Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa on Tuesday launched a Sh10 billion project that seeks to improve the basic social services and expand the economic opportunities for communities that host refugees in Turkana, Garrissa and Wajir counties.
Speaking in Lodwar, Wamalwa said World Bank loan of Sh10 billion would also be complemented by another Sh800 million from Danish International Development Agency.
Dubbed Kenya development response to displacement impacts project, it will directly benefit 1, 041, 436 people 50 percent being women.
Wamalwa noted that water scarcity was the main challenge facing the communities that host refugees saying it would be given priority.
A total of 1.5 million people will access socio economic services such as water provision, education and healthcare during the project which runs between 2018 -2023.
Wamalwa said although the country has an obligation to support refugees from countries that have faced war, the host communities need to be supported due to the environmental and economic burden of hosting the refugees.
“Turkana, Garissa and Wajir counties have been shouldering the heavy burden of hosting refugees, but we are saying the burden must be acknowledged and the way to do it is by supporting the host communities,” said Wamalwa.
Turkana West MP Daniel Nanok, whose constituency hosts refugees in Kakuma, welcomed the World Bank and national government’s support terming it as a dream come true.
“We have had to deal with an issue where refugees who were welcomed by host communities enjoy better services compared to the host communities,” said Nanok.
Turkana West constituency will receive Sh3.2 billion of the allocated funds while
Wajir and Garrisa will get Shs2. billion and Sh4. billion respectively.
The project has four main components among them socio economic and infrastructure services, environmental and natural resource management, livelihoods programme and project management monitoring and evaluation and knowledge sharing.
Project coordinator Dr. Anne Kinyua said the project is a game changer and it would transform the livelihoods of communities hosting refugees.
“The project will be community driven where the community would identify their priorities,” she said.
By Peter Gitonga