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Economic reprieve for Northern refugee host Communities, as they benefit from Sh3.7bn

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Devolution Cabinet Secretary Eugene Wamalwa has said that the three counties of Garissa, Turkana and Wajir have profited from National Government’s Sh3.7 billion economic cushion for hosting refugees in their communities.

The funding which is running into its fourth year has benefited the marginalized regions through provision of basic accessible social services, broadening of economic opportunities and improvement of natural resource management.

Eugene Wamalwa said that, since the launch of the five-year community project through the Kenya Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project (KDRDIP) in 2018, the government has allocated Sh10 billion for it implementation. So far, the Garissa County which hosts Dadaab refugee camp, has benefited with development projects worth Sh1.4 billion. Turkan, which is home to Kakuma refugee camp, and Wajir County have received a combined figure of Sh1.5 billion for community projects.

Mr Wamalwa further said, that the World Bank-funded projects will steer economic recovery of the three regions, which have suffered the strain of hosting large population of refugees. As a result, this has led to competition of already scarce resources, environmental degradation, overstretching of the local hospitals/schools and destruction of infrastructure. These factors have often led to conflicts between the host communities and the refugees.

“Through a loan from the World Bank, we are boosting education through construction of more classrooms, improving health facilities with modern structures, improving access to clean water with new boreholes and financially empowering local enterprises and restoring the ecosystem in Turkana West, Wajir South, Fafi, Lagdera, and Dadaab Sub Counties,” the CS said on Wednesday during an inspection tour of the projects in Turkana.

Quest to alleviate poverty among residents

While inspecting the projects in Turkana, Devolution Cabinet Secretary was accompanied by his Petroleum counterpart John Munyes, local leaders, Turkana Deputy Governor Peter Lotethiro, and State Department for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands Principal Secretary Micah Powon. Wamalwa disclosed that the project was part of the World Bank’s Sh100 billion initiative in North and North Eastern regions. The global lending body is rolling out the projects in dryland areas through the North and North Eastern Development Initiative (NEDI.

Mr Wamalwa said that the government and World Bank’s efforts  to implement the projects in the North Eastern frontier are aimed at alleviating high poverty levels, marginalisation and economic deprivation. According to the Kenya Bureau of Statistics, 70% of locals in the region live under the poverty line, with inadequate access to basic social and economic services. Other regions that are benefiting from NEDI projects include Isiolo, Lamu, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Tana River and West Pokot.

Petroleum CS John Munyes also appealed to the government to prioritise provision of water projects to enable the pastoralist communities to sustain their livelihoods for economic development.

“I call for more support from the national government to invest more in mega water projects to sustainably address the perennial water scarcity in rural areas that always force locals to cross over to neighbouring countries during droughts and in major towns that frequently experience water rationing.” He said.

On the other hand, Turkana West MP Daniel Epuyo speaking in a separate function lamented the deprivation of the Turkana region which is a refugee host community. He said that the region has sunk to poverty as a result of depleted resources, environmental degradation prioritizing refugee population during aid, and perennial scarcity of water.

“Lack of safe and affordable clean water has frequently exposed residents to diseases such as typhoid and cholera. Our environment has also been degraded as refugees need trees for constructing shelter and wood fuel for cooking,” Mr Epuyo said.

The Northern regions of Garissa Wajir and Turkana have seen rapid sprawling of refugee camps since 1992. The large population has led to competition for already limited resources, further plunging the arid region to poverty and diminishing economic opportunities.

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