Kalobeyei, 7 December 2016 – Through strengthening the county urban planning function and the preparation of an integrated settlement plan for the Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement in Kenya, UN-Habitat is demonstrating sustainable approaches to human settlement development and harmonious integration of refugee populations and host communities.

UN-Habitat has been working on a series of analyses that will create a better understanding of the specific relationship between refugee and host communities in order to enhance the potential for integration through spatial planning.

In August-September 2016, a socio-economic research and mapping team led by Dr. Romanus Opiyo and Dr. Felix Mutua, conducted a  socio-economic survey and mapping in Kalobeyei, Kakuma and environs.  The outcome of this work will shape a well-informed planning for Kalobeyei New Site and improvement of Kakuma, as well as provide the county government, UNHCR and development partners with information for planning other development interventions in the area.

In partnership with UNHCR, UN-Habitat organized a two day stakeholder meeting in Kalobeyei and Kakuma to share the key findings for a large scale mapping and socio-economic survey. The research is an important pre-requisite for the physical planning process since it will provide a sound foundation and guidance to the key stakeholders and other thematic working groups.  Overall, it will feed into the short-term, intermediate and the long-term objectives envisaged in the project as well as setting a vision from the host and the refugee communities for the new settlement and its hinterlands.

A fully integrated community approach

In the first day of dissemination, the research consultants presented the key findings to members of the host community, representatives of the county assembly and local administration. UN-Habitat experts conducted a group discussion where the participants were allowed to make contributions to the results of the survey.  This was an important part in the participatory process and on one hand it proved to be very useful in achieving effectiveness, equity and transparency while on the other hand it increased the sense of ownership among the intended beneficiaries.

“As a community we would like to urge all the other partners in the Kalobeyei project to approach the community like UN-Habitat and Peace Winds Japan before doing any project in the host community’,  said the area Member of County Assembly.

The second day of dissemination gathered all organizations and UN agencies involved in Kakuma-Kalobeyei area, delegates of different ministries from the Turkana County Government, as well as representatives from the National Government but also representatives of the host community including youth, women, elders and elected officials.

The survey consultants presented the identified settlement systems, the assessment of the humanitarian and development needs of both the refugees and host communities, including existing housing typologies, patterns of the settlements of the host communities, residential systems and topographical maps of the new site and the wider area. Key stakeholders and county government officials made recommendations and comments related to the spatial organization of the settlement and human activities in relation to topography, agriculture, hydrogeology and environment to augment the results and the final survey report.

Addressing emerging challenges

UN-Habitat project coordinator and the Head of Sub-Office (UNHCR) reiterated on the importance of ensuring that the planning of Kalobeyei Settlement follows a proper planning process and technical guidance while paying attention to the humanitarian crisis due to the high influx of refugees from South Sudan.

Salvatore Fundaro, key UN-Habitat Planner, highlighted that Kalobeyei New Settlement has numerous opportunities and challenges and the plan will therefore seek to maximize the opportunities and address the emerging challenges for a sustainable development. He also added that the plan will also consider the interlinkages with the County Integrated Development Plan for Kakuma.

Lastly, Simon Lokakwan from the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning and Urban Area Management gave an affirmation on the commitment of the County Government in ensuring an integrated Kalobeyei Settlement.