Refugee Engagement and Empowerment Project
2015-02-20 ~ 2016-02-20
Agency: Caritas Nairobi
This project focuses on urban refugees who are living in the city without the same protection as people living in a refugee camp. The project will promote education and skills training for refugees, integration through language training, legal awareness, and setting up micro-enterprises through vocational skill training. The education and skills training will focus on many different areas including planning and organization of micro projects, micro credit and financial management and gender equity. The refugees will be provided with information on their legal rights and assisted with permanent residence applications.
There has been a significant lack of support for urban refugees in the past and the project aims to address the needs of refugees in a more comprehensive manner. The programme will benefit at least 60 refugees through capacity building and skills training, legal aid and language skills. Skill development will focus on catering/food preparation, hairdressing and tailoring helping refugees gain the skills to develop small scale businesses. Beneficiaries will be chosen based on level of poverty as well as motivation. This includes: possession of goods and means of production, household composition, income, condition of home, occupational status, food security, state of health, education, access to basic services and to credit, physical appearance and clothing.
In the long-term this programme will benefit 300 or more people indirectly, through family support, employment and community development.
The urban refugee population in Nairobi is Pan-African and complex in nature. People may choose to live in the city rather than refugee camps for various reasons: if they have special health needs, they expect to have better access to services, they expect to have more freedom or that there will be better employment opportunities. They often find the opposite and are vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.
Caritis Nairobi is the aid and development department of the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi. Established in 1973, Caritis Nairobi provides aid regardless of race, age, social background, gender or religious affiliation.
As a pilot scheme, this project proved very successful. The workshops on running and sustaining a micro-project and community-based organization management reached 158 refugees living in Nairobi.
Literacy classes allowed people to integrate with people in their communities better. A smaller group of beneficiaries were trained in marketable vocational skills – the most popular being catering. Cooperatives were established and registered to allow beneficiaries to discuss enterprise knowledge and skills.
The project also facilitated 3 legal aid clinics to help refugees understand their rights and the laws of Kenya and a legal advisory desk was set up to provide advice and follow-up on refugee’s referral cases. A study on legal challenges faced by refugees was conducted to inform future programming.
Through these initiatives, 158 refugees’ self-reliance and independence was greatly improved, thus benefiting many more people indirectly through their families and communities. The project shows how refugees can be of benefit to a community and the local economy if they are allowed some freedom to work and be independent.
Sumayaah Muhammad Abdisebur attended a vocational training course in catering and now has a food kiosk where she sells various types of food including injera and other foods of Somali origin. She lives in a small rented room with her three children. She no longer needs to depend on friends for her survival.