A government project targeting communities hosting refugees is succeeding in changing the narrative that refugees have over the years been receiving preferential treatment compared to the communities hosting the refugees.
Beneficiaries of the Kenya Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project which is a national government project supported by the World Bank expressed their gratitude for how the project is turning their lives around.
Kakuma resident, Maclevis Ewoi says since the project began, himself alongside 14 other members who formed a motorcycle spare parts shop are now able to put food to their families’ tables and meet their daily needs.
Ewoi who is also the deputy secretary of Kakuma boda boda riders group says the shs 500,000 grant they received from KDRDIP has enabled the youth to be self employed by buying their own motorcycles.
‘We have also created a job opportunity for a mechanic who repairs motorcycles and another lady who sells motorcycle spare parts and also runs our Mpesa shop, said Ewoi.
He added that by engaging the youth in income generating activities it has helped reduce crime rate in Kakuma town.
‘Before we started most youths who were then unemployed were afraid of even getting married for fear of being unable to provide for their families, now most of us are married and are able to fend for our families,’ said Ewoi.
He says funding from KDRDIP enabled the group to purchase land and start the spare parts shop business and appeal that with additional funding the group will be able to expand the shop.
Another member of the bodaboda group Esther Munialo says she used to wash clothes for Kakuma residents to eke a living.
‘This project has helped me to gain a stable source of income and improve my life,’ she says.
The project commissioned shs 434 million as part of this financial year’s shs 906 million that will benefit residents of Kakuma sub county.
There are seven wards in the sub county with a lion’s share of the funds going to upgrading of Kakuma sub county hospital.
Project coordinator Humfrey Amoni said a morgue, an incinerator, and a ward will be constructed at the hospital.
‘Residents will for the first time be able to take their departed ones at the morgue and save the time and finances they used to incur in taking their loved ones to Lodwar county referral hospital which is 120km from Kakuma town,’ said Amoni.
Area MP Daniel Epuyo said he was grateful for the government intervention saying it has helped change the narrative that host communities are inferior to the refugees.
‘We are grateful that the host community are finally reaping the benefits of hosting the refugees for many years,’ said Epuyo.
The KDRDIP is a community led project meaning that the community takes the leading role in identifying the projects and their implementation including the procurement process.
The key areas of focus include construction of schools, water provision and road construction. It also includes environment protection and conservation as well as improving livelihoods of communities.
Amoni said the project emphasizes record keeping for transparency and accountability.
It also pays a key attention to inclusion of women, youth and persons living with disability.
Another beneficiary Jacinta Lokutari who is the treasurer of Lopuski women group, the shs 500,000 they received from the project has enabled them to purchase a land, construct a semi-permanent shop from where they sell beads and other household items like sugar and beverages.
‘We have also undergone training on how to keep records and operate a business,’ says Lokutari.
By Peter Gitonga