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Localisation and participation within the rollout of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework in Kenya

Michael Owiso and Farah Manji

Kenya formally adopted the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) in October 2017. Since then the country has made progress towards its implementation by undertaking self-reliance and inclusion measures for refugees. Under the leadership of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS), Kenya developed a roadmap and, although it has not yet been published, some important milestones have been achieved, including the establishment of technical committees that look into the issues around the CRRF and its implementation by Garissa and Turkana counties. The Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-Economic Development Programme (KISEDP) in Turkana County has been lauded as an important effort in the realisation of the CRRF. Garissa County has also been developing the Garissa Integrated Socio- Economic Development Plan (GISEDP), which has since received some seed funding from the European Union.

This rapid review analyses the extent of localisation and participation in the rollout of the CRRF process in Kenya. By focusing on localisation and participation, the review examines the extent to which the initiatives, activities, structures and processes of the CRRF have contributed to progress towards self-reliance and inclusion for refugees in Kenya. The following key findings have emerged from the analysis:

  • Despite the restrictive legal environment, a degree of participation of refugees and host communities within the displacement environment existed before the rollout of the CRRF. Participation and localisation have been realised, for example, from the engagement of refugees in the informal-sector businesses in Kenya. There has also been an effort to open up the space for refugees to participate more fully in the economy by, for example, opening accounts with certain banks.
  • Some aspects of participation in the rollout of the CRRF in Kenya are strong, namely information sharing, consultations at different levels, partnerships involving different stakeholders in the planning process, and decisions and actions that are in concert with and support the process from some stakeholders. The KISEDP and the draft GISEDP demonstrate high-level participation and multi-stakeholder engagement in the search for durable solutions. These two interventions have – on paper at least – embraced community participation and ownership of the displacement-affected communities and made conscious efforts at localising the CRRF process. However, these have tended to be top-down processes which have frequently failed to translate into meaningful involvement on the part of displacement-affected communities.
  • There exists a disconnect between the desired and the actual in relation to participation. This gap is related to the limited availability of space for participation that leads to ownership on the part of the displacement-affected communities. In turn, it also affects the

efforts to localise. The displacement-affected communities have not been at the centre of the CRRF rollout process, which remains largely top-down. There is therefore a need for effective and meaningful engagement of local actors in order to legitimate the process and make it sustainable.

  • There has been a conscious effort to localise the CRRF rollout process. This is demonstrated by the active involvement of the host counties through their governments. Further, as a result of the focus on self-reliance and inclusion measures embedded in the development plans of the hosting counties, the county governments have made implementation of the CRRF a matter of priority.
  • Certain stakeholders remain left out or have been minimally involved, thereby negating the spirit behind the whole-of-society approach. Partnership and cooperation have not been fleshed out; this has led to missing out on the ‘nuts’ and ‘bolts’ of the partnerships. This has also led to a disjointed rolling out where certain stakeholders, such as the county governments, remain ahead of others. In particular, the involvement of local civil society organisations and groups has been feeble and has negatively affected localisation and participation. This reveals the need to improve and expand on a number of aspects such as the mechanisms for engagement.

The above mentioned initiatives and processes point to positive yet slow developments in the localisation and participation in the CRRF rollout process in Kenya. The rollout process is contributing to positive changes, with a stronger focus on self-reliance, integrated refugee–host community programming, engagement of development actors and a commitment to support stronger participation of refugees and host communities in programming and policy processes (ReDSS, 2018). This review involves a careful examination of the dynamic nature of localisation efforts and the participation of displacement-affected communities in Kenya.

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Image source: ©2019 European Union/Brian Inganga

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