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UNHCR/Anthony Karumba
Collecting water in Kakuma 4 refugee camp

Written by Cory Rodgers (Research Consultant) and Louise Bloom (Research Officer, Humanitarian Innovation Project), this new research brief examines systems of infrastructure provision in refugee camps, looking at both informal and formal systems of provision, with a focus on Kakuma refugee camps in Kenya.

Refugees who pursue livelihoods in protracted encampment contexts are held up as exemplars of self-reliance, but their success relies on access to basic resources and infrastructure. Such amenities are often lacking, however, because refugee camps are seldom included in state infrastructural development, and resources provided by camp agencies are intended for domestic use, not livelihoods. Nonetheless, the systems of water and energy use in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camps exemplify the ways that refugees acquire the resources needed for their livelihood activities, either by creatively re-distributing resources from formal systems of humanitarian provision, or by seeking alternative sources of these basic goods.

Findings show that the form of infrastructure available in a camp has implications for safety and sustainability, refugee livelihoods, and refugee-host relations. Interventions to improve resource provision and camp infrastructure must consider the implications both between and within the refugee and host communities.

Download the brief here: Research in Brief: Informal versus Formal Infrastructure: Energy and water systems in the Kakuma refugee camps, Kenya

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