Education for all in Kakuma

Education for all in Kakuma

In the arid border regions of Kenya there are two huge refugee camps: Dadaab – it is the world’s largest camp – and that of Kakuma. Hundreds of thousands of displaced people have been living there, some for decades. The SDC project “Skills for Life” in Kakuma provides vocational training and social as well as economic competencies – and therefore prospects for a better life.

jlh. About 185,000 people – slightly more than in the city of Basel – live in the refugee camp of Kakuma in northern Kenya. “Nowadays, the average length of stay in refugee camps is 17 years worldwide,” says Martina Durrer, SDC programme officer for the Horn of Africa. What begins as a sudden humanitarian crisis at the moment of expulsion, threatens to become a permanent condition in the camp. This compels to a combination of approaches in humanitarian aid and development cooperation: The people in the camp need prospects, employment and some income, in order not to be completely dependent on foreign support. The SDC project in Kakuma gives the people various practical skills to cope better with life and to be able to attain a certain independence, whether it be in the camp itself or, in case of return, in the home country.

Neither compensation nor free meal

“Refugee camps in border areas often evolve into an economic hub,” Martina Durrer says. As is the case in Kakuma. From the viewpoint of the local population, whose living conditions are often even more appalling than those of the people in the camp, this situation has its positive aspects. For, thanks to the refugees, markets arise; there is trade and some infrastructure. But at the same time the camp represents a competition for scarce resources such as water or firewood. While the refugees are often not allowed to integrate themselves into the local labour market, the local population has in turn no access to the aid for the refugees.
In order to defuse tensions, the project “Skills for Life” in Kakuma is therefore open for the people from the camp as well as for the local population. Women and men are equally involved. Participation in the project is voluntary, there is neither compensation nor free meals – decisive is solely the motivation to improve one’s own situation. For this project, SDC on site works together with local and international partners.
The Swiss foundation Swisscontact, being involved in vocational education in developing countries for decades, is in charge with the operational management of the project. “The challenge is,” as Katrin Schnellmannshausen of Swisscontact says, “to adjust the dual approach of vocational training to the local context of the partner country.”
A second important partner is the United Nations High Commissariat for Refugees (UNHCR), which is responsible for the management of the camps and the maintenance of the refugees and coordinates the work of other locally active organisations.

Earning money as soon as possible

Having jointly carried out a market analysis, the local authorities and the economy have launched the pilot phase of the project in autumn 2013 which lasted until summer 2016. It is about an informal and cost-effective education, which focuses on “learning by doing”. At the heart of the project are study groups of several men and women with similar profiles (interests, age, education) being composed of refugees and the local population.
You can choose between a total of twelve subjects – from agriculture, masonry and waste management via computer and mobile phone repair up to laundry and weaving. Each group is dedicated to one of the topics. To complement this, there is a basic training in literacy and numeracy and also training in economic and social skills such as entrepreneurship, financial management, health and prevention. The aim is an all-round education, because after their training the participants should as quickly as possible be able to achieve a first income and ideally be able to set up a small business together with other members of the study group. During several months, they are accompanied in a coaching programme and gradually released into the entrepreneurial independence. The training lasts four to five months and for the participants it ends with a lot of knowledge and a certificate.

Successful pilot phase

An independent evaluation in 2015 and an assessment as part of the supervisory group (local government, UN, partner organisations and beneficiaries) showed that the pilot phase is successful. They gave very good marks to the training in the learning groups.
The proportion of women there is at around 55 per cent. The next project phase of two to three years serves to learn from the experience and to consolidate the training methodology.
“Very pleasing is the fact that several study groups of the project have already joined forces to form small businesses,” Martina Durrer says. Some groups have concluded contracts and secured firm orders, such as for waste management in refugee camps or the repair of IT of the local government. “After the next phase we want to be ready,” Durrer says, “that, thanks to the pilot in Kakuma, we have a package model for informal training, which in the future can be modularly activated in other refugee crises. We are well on the way there.”    •

Source: Eine Welt (One world) No 3/September 2016

(Translation Current Concerns)

600 000 refugees in Kenya, according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) worldwide there were about 65 million refugees and expellees in 2015 – more than ever since Second World War. Turkey, Pakistan, Lebanon, Iran, Jordan, Ethiopia, and Kenya host most of them.
In Kenya there are about 600,000 humans; about 365,000 live in the Dadaab-camp, 185,000 in Kakuma. Globally about two third of all refugees and expellees do not live in camps, but in urban regions. This presents the host countries and local authorities with great challenges to guarantee a minimum of medical, educational, and employment supply.

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