Three Garissa MPs whose constituencies host Somali refugees have expressed optimism that the Kenya Development Response Displacement Impacts project (KDRDIP) will change residents’ lives.
The MPs spoke after attending a steering committee meeting chaired by area county commissioner Meru Mwangi.
The meeting was meant to approve the annual work plan and budgets of 2021-22.
The Sh10 billion World Bank-funded project is being implemented in three counties over the next five years.
Garissa will receive Sh4.2billion, Wajir Sh2 billion, Turkana Sh3.1 billion while three Garissa sub-counties of Fafi, Daadad and Lagdera will each receive Sh1.5 billion, Sh1.6 billion and Sh1.1 billion respectively.
Over the last 30 years, the communities have hosted the refugees by providing a haven. However, this has left devastating effects on both the environment, economy and social well-being of the hosts.
MPs Mohamed Dahiye (Dadaab), Mohamed Hire (Lagdera) and Abdikarim Osman (Fafi) said they want to see their people benefitting from the projects.
Dahiye whose constituency currently hosts 273,000 refugees said the projects will improve access to basic social services, expand economic opportunities, and enhance environmental management for communities hosting refugees in the targeted areas.
“We are happy that the Kenyan government together with the World Bank have considered supporting these refugee-hosting communities with some finance for development,” Dahiye said.
Hire said that contrary to what was being said that they were out to interfere with the project, all they want was to see the people they represent benefit.
“This project will empower the communities at the grassroots level. As you know when our respective constituencies hosted refugees there were serious impacts in terms of environment, economic, social and communal aspects,” he said.
Osman expressed optimism that with proper planning, coordination and implementation of the project, the host communities will benefit immensely through access to basic services, expansion of economic opportunities and enhancement of environmental management.
“By the end of the project period, we hope that it will improve self-reliance among refugee-hosting communities, social cohesion between refugees and host communities, increase the voices and roles of citizens in decision-making regarding development,” Osman said.
The MP thanked the County Project Implementation Unit (CPIU) and facilitating partners whom he said have ensured all requisite procedures are strictly complied with.
Speaking in Garissa in 2018 during the project launch, Devolution CS Eugene Wamalwa said the community should be the ones to prioritise their projects.
Eugene said the project is an integral part of the broader North and Northeastern intuitive plan that will focus on community-level approaches to addressing the impact of the protracted presence of refugees in the affected areas.
There is a total of Sh762 million which will be disbursed to the three subcounties of Garissa. The money will benefit 408 groups with each group getting Sh500,000.
The presence of refugees in the three project counties has impacted negatively the host communities and deepened poverty levels.
This has led to increased demand for natural resources, water, pasture and fuelwood that has cost degradation of the environment.