water collection Turkana

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

The success of the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) is dependent in large part on the extent to which greater self-reliance and inclusion of refugees and host communities is achieved. This can only be established by examining the extent to which initiatives, activities, structures and processes of a country’s rollout procedures engage with the perspectives and priorities of displacement-affected communities. Kenya committed to the CRRF framework by joining the list of initial CRRF rollout countries in 2017. Notably, its two major refugee hosting counties, Turkana and Garissa, have integrated refugees into their respective County Integrated Development Plans (CIDPs). This means that these two counties have included refugee populations in their planning for healthcare, education, water supplies, sanitation and hygiene, spatial planning, infrastructure, agriculture, livestock breeding, environmental protection, sustainable energy, involvement of the private sector and the protection of vulnerable groups. Our rapid review analyses the implementation of the CRRF in relation to localisation and refugee and host community participation in ensuring the successful rollout and sustainability of the CRRF in Kenya.

Positive planning versus meaningful mechanisms for engaging displacement-affected communities

The Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-Economic Development Program (KISEDP) in Turkana County and the Garissa Integrated Socio-Economic Development Plan (GISEDP) in Garissa County, which are both conceptualised around the Local Economic Development (LED) approach, provide roadmaps for collaboration between public, business and NGO partners. This is a demonstration of high-level participation and multi-stakeholder engagement. The Kenya Comprehensive Refugee Programme (KCRP), an all-inclusive planning process, also considers the needs of refugees and host communities, prioritises activities and overall funding requirements of refugee operations, outlines the devolution of government decision-making responsibility to the counties and formalises the establishment of the CIDPs.

Although the planning indicates strong commitments to participation in the rollout process, our review reveals gaps in meaningful participation. The space for genuine participation remains constricted and the objective of participation has tended to be to inform displacement-affected communities about decisions already made rather than to involve them in planning and decision making. There is therefore not yet much meaningful participation and where it has been present, the representativeness remains questionable because of a lack of diversity of voices included.

Are perceptions of both displacement-affected communities and governance stakeholders important?

Image CC2.0 EU/ECHO/Martin Karimi

Our research revealed that displacement-affected communities had mixed feelings about efforts to foster localisation and participation. Some people indicated a decline in efforts inviting their participation, while others indicated that they do participate. Local governance stakeholders interviewed had the opinion that the county structure is best placed to articulate the hopes, desires and fears of the community in relation to the CRRF rollout. In other words, they called on the national government to cede more powers to the counties to take the frontline in championing the rollout process. Overall, the engagement of displacement-affected communities, though nascent, continues to shape public participation and make wider impacts on localisation of the CRRF in Kenya. If this is to be sustainable, however, there is much work still to be done to shift from tokenistic consultation to meaningful participation.

Connecting ‘bottom-up’’ and ‘top-down’ approaches to realise the whole-of-society approach

There are mixed reactions that point to inadequacies in the mechanisms for coordination and inclusion at the national and local levels, hence having implications on localisation. While there is an effort to engage a great number of stakeholders, there exists a disconnect in the involvement of stakeholders with some groups side-lined from the discussions and decision-making processes. The inclusion of civil society partners, the private sector, host communities and other local groups is still inadequate, yet these groups can bring on board critical contributions to the process based on their experiences, networks and capacities.

Conclusion and way forward

There is evidence of stakeholder participation in the two rollout counties in Kenya. Genuine localisation and participation present the potential to transform the CRRF rollout process. This can be achieved by emphasising meaningful partnerships and placing displacement-affected communities alongside other stakeholders as crucial actors rather than beneficiaries without agency. More needs to be done to flesh out the operational dimensions of the whole-of-society approach to arrive at the full realisation of the CRRF process.

Kenya may also learn from others in the region, for example from Djibouti, which introduced new laws that streamlined refugee status determination procedures and granted more opportunities for socioeconomic integration. In Ethiopia, the Jobs Compact an agreement between the Ethiopian government and international partners, which aims to support the industrialisation, employment and refugee policies leading to the realisation of decent jobs for Ethiopian nationals and refugees, is another welcome approach. In Uganda, refugees are entitled to work, move freely and access Ugandan social services such as health and education.

This report recommends the resuscitation of the stalled Refugee Bill in parliament and the development of wider initiatives that facilitate large numbers of refugees’ full participation in the economy, going beyond the Kakuma Kalobeyei Challenge Fund initiated by the International Finance Corporation. The report also calls for support for local organizations lobbying for policy reform, improved relay of communication and public information about the CRRF process, the employment of a range of mechanisms to close the feedback loop to ensure accountability to affected populations and fleshing out of the issues that underscore the principles of partnership and cooperation embedded in the whole-of-society approach.

Author: Mike Owiso

Team Leader of the Forced Migration and Vulnerable Livelihoods Research Group at Maseno University, Kenya

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

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