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Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support

by IsraAID
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support
Kakuma Refugee Camp Holistic Support

Since 2011, IsraAID has been working in the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya. We have established Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) projects, psychosocial support networks, Child Friendly Spaces (CFS), among other education, protection and mental health projects. Due to the recent COVID-19 global pandemic, many of our IsraAID's activities in Kakuma have been put on pause, or adapted to comply with government regulations.

As of May 16th 2020, there are no confirmed cases of the virus in Kakuma refugee camp, however, restriction of movement of persons in and out the camp remains effective until at least the end of May. Additionally, residents are under a 7 pm - 5 am daily curfew (national directive by the Government of Kenya) and all movements in and out of the camp have been restricted to only essential services, and cargo. 

Support for vulnerable groups must be prioritized. For IsraAID, that means the refugees we work with, who live in often-overcrowded, under-resourced camps, with limited access to medical care and safe water.

These new regulations that encourage social distancing do not really work within the refugee camp context. If the virus were to spread to Kakuma, it would be very difficult to contain. Water, for instance, is only available from communal boreholes. It is the same story for picking up food distributions. Kakuma camp’s population cannot avoid gathering in public — it is how they get their essentials.

On top of the need to collect basic necessities like water and food, refugees in Kakuma have no access to hand sanitizer and, for some, even soap is in short supply. Without the income to purchase these hygiene products, they rely heavily on aid from UNHCR, further limiting the capacity to reduce the spread of coronavirus if it reaches the camp. 

IsraAID has been forced to halt its child-friendly services in order to limit exposure of the virus to children. While many organizations are now moving their work online, the population of Kakuma camp has limited access to the internet and most of our services involve heavy personal interaction. We have, therefore, had to be creative in how we provide our services when our usual facilities are closed, and many of the staff are working remotely. 

In terms of the daily life of the refugees we work with, this means that children will not have access to child protection services, and field staff and facilitators will be without work for an indefinite period of time. Our field teams, which are made up mostly of refugees from the community, have been raising awareness on COVID-19, hygiene promotion, and psychosocial support activities to parents and caregivers whose children are registered to our facilities. We have been reaching the families in Kakuma through phone calls, since most of our beneficiaries do not have regular access to the internet. We are also doing followup phone calls to ensure that the information has been understood fully, and shared among the family. This has really been helpful in addressing their concerns and offering psychosocial support. If necessary, we can also refer individuals to the relevant agencies for further support. 

We are also supporting partners through mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) coordination, working in groups to develop scripts for radio shows. These aim to help children deal with stress and anxiety during this period.

We look forward to re-opening our Child Friendly Spaces as soon as the authorities deem these activities safe. In the meantime, we are finding ways to keep working with these communities while the coronavirus-related limitations last.

Thank you for your support refugees in Kakuma during this especially challenging period. 


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On November 20, 2019, the Iboa Child Friendly Space (CFS) opened its doors to residents of Uganda's Palorinya Refugee settlement, to provide integrated Protection and education services to some 166,000 South Sudanese refugees and 140,000 Ugandan host community members. 60% of this population is made up of children—many of whom have experienced war, displacement, famine, and other issues that can exacerbate their mental and emotional health.

The Iboa CFS was a created to respond to the needs on the ground, and establish a safe space for children from the refugee and host communities to play, learn, develop, and grow.

Daily activities are implemented by 10 facilitators—3 of whom are refugees, and 7 Ugandans—who completed training with the IsraAID professional team on CFS facilitation, Child Protection, and the basics of providing Psychosocial Support services.

Feedback from community members about the establishment of the Iboa CFS is positive, and often centers around the new opportunity the CFS presents for integration between the refugee and host communities. Children explained that even though classes at Iboa Primary School are made up of both refugee and host children, the busy school schedule leaves them without time to play together. After school, refugee and host children go home to separate neighborhoods were they don’t have a space to interact. The Iboa CFS answers this need, providing a play center where children can dance, sing, learn, and create together, learning about each other’s cultures and experience, as well as cultivate relationships between these communities.

Nataline is a 13-year-old girl. Her mother is Ugandan, and her father, who unfortunately passed away in 2017, was South Sudanese. Today Nataline lives with her mother in a Ugandan neighborhood.

Nataline feels that she is more South Sudanese than Ugandan, but because she was raised in Uganda and her father hasn’t been in her life for the past few years, she can hardly speak Kuku, the South Sudanese language he spoke.

Nataline explains that coming to Iboa CFS has allowed her to play more with other South Sudanese children. “Before the CFS was opened, I used to play in the Ugandan neighborhood with only Ugandans but now when the CFS was opened I play with both Ugandan s and South Sudanese, even my Kuku is improving because we use Kuku while playing.”

Nataline added that playing with South Sudanese kids has taught her how to better understand South Sudanese culture. For example, she now knows South Sudanese music and dance, and allows her to connect to her roots.

Nataline is one example of how the Iboa CFS is bringing together the host and refugee communities, offering for the first time an opportunity for the children to play and learn together, toward creating a more diverse, tolerant society in the future.

Thank you for your ongoing support!

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IsraAID’s programming in the Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Moyo District provides Child Protection and basic educational services to the local population. Close to 330,000 individuals live in the area, including refugees and the host community, made up of 65% children under the age of 17. With 74% of households reporting that at least one member lacks the psychological care they need, protection services are crucial to provide urgent support. Uganda hosts more than 1.2 million refugees, just under one third of all refugees worldwide, and the highest number in Africa. 67% of these refugees are from neighboring South Sudan, where war and civil strife forced them from their homes; others are from the DRC, Burundi, Somalia, and Rwanda.

IsraAID’s team on the ground improves community-based Child Protection mechanisms, by providing daily activities for children in our Child Friendly Space (CFS). The CFS’ implementation model is designed to involve community members directly in ensuring that children have the resources they need to learn and grow.

Over the past months, IsraAID, thanks to the generous support from our partners, has begun to construct a new CFS, which will allow us to reach new families and children in need of support. Upon completion, this CFS will have capacity to host an average of 150 children per day, 6 days a week, for 8 hours per day. Daily programming in basic numeracy/literacy, recreational activities, sports, expressive arts, and psychosocial support will be implemented by refugee and host-community facilitators who have undergone intensive psychosocial and child protection training with IsraAID staff. In addition, the CFS will be used as an outreach hub to engage the wider community in the importance of Child Protection and advocate for education.

Currently, the building process is well underway, with the foundation set and the structures beginning to take shape. After the site was cleared of trees, bushes, and hills, the foundation’s pit was dug for the two-classroom block, as well as the latrine. The foundation and column base was set, made of concrete, and the brick for the walls is currently being laid for the classrooms. The latrine block is completed, with an iron roof. The steel casement for the doors have been fitted, and are awaiting painting, which will take place three weeks after the plaster surfaces have cured and been set. The external walls of the latrines are finished with
rough cast, to protect them from the effects of weathering. The latrines also have a gutter connection from the roof, a vent pipe to prevent bad odors, and a handwashing tank has been constructed next to the latrines.

Following a few issues with which  authorities had jurisdiction of the land (now resolved), the most significant challenge during this period was bad weather. Heavy rains slowed down the process of transporting materials to the construction site and delayed the contractor’s ability to keep up with the schedule. Although this has postponed the CFS’s launch date, the wet weather has helped to cure the CFS’s walls, which in the long term, will make the building far more durable and weather resistant.

In addition, the contractor faced some difficulty in employing a sufficient number of workers, which further slowed down the work. IsraAID staff stepped in, seeing this as an opportunity, and recruited local community members to support the process. Not only does this help speed up the process, but it also bolsters local ownership of the CFS.

Concurrent to the construction of the new CFS, IsraAID’s regional Protection team also trained the new, and existing, CFS facilitators from the refugee and host community. The training included Psychological First Aid (PFA), elements of Child  Protection, the Protection referral system, how to operate CFS and more!

Thank you for your support!!

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Due to the tumultuous climate of war in the region, Kakuma Refugee Camp has become a home to 187,000 refugees. IsraAID currently focuses its efforts on empowering women and youth, including new arrivals, offering support to the most vulnerable within the camp. A lack of proper sanitation and hygiene education, along with violence and poverty, make Kakuma a difficult place to live. Ariella is currently attending Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. She is one of two IsraAID Humanitarian Fellows volunteering in Kenya for summer 2019.

In Kakuma Refugee Camp, IsraAID-trained facilitators hold diagrams of women’s reproductive systems as they stand in front of an attentive class of forty-four.

This isn’t a typical classroom. The students are refugee women aged twenty-five and above, and for several of them, this is their first time learning about menstrual health. Many of the women cradle months-old babies in their arms. The classroom is broken into three informal groups according to language: Swahili, Arabic, and Kirundi. Each facilitator teaches the lesson to students in the language with which they are the most comfortable.

The facilitators, who are refugee women themselves, begin their lesson by passing around charts and diagrams that depict the process of menstruation. IsraAID trains refugees in Kakuma to lead workshops, promoting sustainability and independence in the community.

“In many communities, we are not told about this,” Amandine, one of the participants, tells me in Swahili. She explains to me that topics of women’s reproductive health and menstruation are not spoken about comfortably, and are frequently considered taboo. As a result, women often lack awareness of vital changes in their bodies and proper self-care for reproductive health.

It is essential that the workshops start with the basics — many of the women have different levels of understanding when it comes to menstrual hygiene. The training covers basic principles of menstrual hygiene management, including the biology of menstruation and aspects of reproductive health. Women are also trained in proper self-care during menstruation, including how to relieve pain and discomfort.

“By having more trainings like this one, we can begin to share the knowledge,” Amandine adds.

She says that she has never attended a class on menstrual hygiene and health before, but found this one very useful. She tells me that such training is important to the refugee community in Kakuma because it encourages women to gain a deeper understanding of their bodies. Their newfound knowledge also serves to support other women in the community who did not attend the class.

One of the older participants in the room tells me that the information is a good refresher. For her, the most important part of the lesson was learning about different reproductive and menstrual complications. Infections destabilize home life, she shared, because women often don’t know what is causing the issue and are unsure of how to seek treatment. By learning about prevention, women can take the initiative when it comes to their health.

“Women need more trainings,” insists Riziki, one of the facilitators. Riziki tells me that there are still many obstacles facing female refugees when it comes to these issues. Even purchasing menstrual supplies can be a challenge. Some women simply do not feel comfortable doing so, while others struggle to afford them.

The facilitators tell me that Kakuma’s environment poses a serious challenge for women seeking contraception. The overwhelming heat can cause birth control in the form of implants to fail, resulting in complications for many women. Tragically, issues surrounding bleeding and a lack of treatment often result in a woman’s death during childbirth. Risks associated with pregnancies are crucial for women in the community to understand. “If we educate more women, there wouldn’t be so many complications,” Riziki says.

IsraAID recognizes the need for further workshops to educate women in the community. An additional Menstrual Hygiene and Health training, specifically for adolescent girls, was also organized. 

Thank you for your support!

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Kakuma refugee camp located in West Turkana, Kenya, opened in 1992 and is currently home to over 190,000 refugees from different nationalities, who have fled persecution and war in neighbouring countries including South Sudan, Somalia, and the DRC. Instability in the region, most notably in South Sudan, continues to cause displacement. In addition to the camp’s population there are an estimated 50,000 members of the host community, many of whom rely on government and NGO support. 

The acute malnutrition rate in Turkana sits at 30%, with children at the highest risk. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition contributes to more than a third of pediatric deaths. Tuberculosis, Malaria, and HIV/AIDS, and other illnesses, further increase vulnerability to malnutrition. The Kakuma refugee camp is in one of Kenya’s poorest and most drought-stricken regions, exacerbating access to enough nutritional resources.

In April, the IsraAID Kenya team, in partnership with the UNHCR, IRC, and Kenya Red Cross, donated food supplement distribution to patients identified as high-need. Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) is the recommended method of supplementing food in the final stage of rehabilitation from malnutrition. Forty cents purchases one sachet of the supplement; on average, each patient needs to receive one sachet per day, for over 21 days, as their outpatient treatment, while rehabilitating at home and returning to educational frameworks. 100 boxes can serve over 700 children.

RUTF is a ready-to-use paste, made of peanut butter, dried skim milk, and additional vitamins. It can be stored for months without refrigeration and has recently begun being manufactured in the region to decrease dependency on imports and increase sustainable usage. The WHO and UNICEF identify RUTF as optimal treatment for severe malnutrition, specifically for children, because it can be utilized at home rather than in hospitals.

IsraAID was able to donate 108 cartons of RUTF-- supporting many of the most vulerable residents of the Kakuma Refugee Camp.

Thank you for your support!

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Organization Information


Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @IsraAID
Project Leader:
Molly Bernstein
Tel Aviv, Merkaz Israel
$2,483 raised of $99,000 goal
25 donations
$96,517 to go
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