This week in Foreign Policy Professor Alexander Betts writes about how Kakuma, a refugee camp in Kenya, has found a way to create “sustainable settlements that can empower and employ refugees and benefit their host countries at the same time”.
In the article ‘Refuge, Reformed’, Betts discusses the benefits for both refugees and the host community of the new Kalobeyei settlement within Kakuma, drawing on his research within the Refugee Economies Programme. Opened in 2016, Kalobeyei was, he says, “planned from the start as a market-based settlement in which refugees and members of the host community would live side-by-side, using the same stores, schools, and hospitals.”
For Kenyans who have relocated to Kalobeyei, it provides benefits such as health and education facilities that are among the best in the country, as well as job opportunities. For refugees, Betts writes, “the presence of locals means less marginalization. Integrated living lends the camp a feeling of permanence, so often lacking in refugee camps.” He adds, “The ultimate vision is that, once built, the infrastructure will stand the test of time and that the settlement will eventually be more like a city with residents able to pay for and provide services for themselves.”
The article discusses innovative pilot programmes in Kalobeyei, such as bamba chakula (Kalobeyei’s voucher currency) and cash-for-shelter, which help to keep the camp’s nascent economy growing.
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