Kenya: Promoting Life Skills and Livelihoods in Kakuma Refugee Camp

Project completed

The Horn of Africa is marked by large numbers of displaced people[1] of whom almost 189’000 are living in Kakuma, Northern Kenya. The project Promoting Life Skills and Livelihoods contributes to enhanced capacities and economic opportunities, self-esteem, dignity and empowerment for refugees and host community through the provision of technical, life and basic skills training to youth. This provides them with improved opportunities for socio economic integration.


[1] IDPs and refugees



Country/region Topic Period Budget
Vocational training
Vocational training
Forced displacement (refugees, IDP, human trafficking)
Basic life skills
01.09.2019 - 31.12.2022
CHF  1’940’000

Kenya is the third biggest refugee-hosting country in Africa after Ethiopia and Uganda. Most people fleeing from conflict in South Sudan arrive in Kakuma in northern Kenya. Built in 1991 to host 16’000 South Sudanese refugees, Kakuma Camp today hosts 189’000 refugees in 4 camp complexes and in the neighbouring Kalobeyei settlement. Since 2016, the numbers of refugees[1] to Kakuma have been increasing (158, 253 in July 2016 to 185,399 in June 2019), which, amongst other reasons, leads to a change in the approach to assistance from care and maintenance to self-reliance. This is manifested by several changes in Kakuma and beyond: design of a refugee and host community integrated settlement scheme[2], entry of new actors like the World Bank and International Finance Corporation (IFC) with a more market-oriented approach, signature of the UN global compacts for refugees and on migration in 2018 and subsequently the adoption of the Comprehensive refugee response framework (CRRF), the Nairobi Declaration signed in March 2017, and the revision of the Kenya refugee bill 2006. The unique context of Kakuma and Kalobeyi is fertile ground for socio-economic integration due to the needs and willingness of the county to collaborate.


[1]  Due to various break-outs of violence in South Sudan for example  on 7 July 2016, UNHCR Sub-Office Kakuma received and registered 409 refugees as of 31 July 2016, bringing the total number of registered new South Sudanese arrivals in July to 524. Kakuma has received 48,868 refugees from South Sudan since the start of the influx in December 2013.

[2] The settlement is called Kalobeyei  scheme

Objectives To promote socio-economic integration of refugees and their host communities in Kakuma and Kalobeyei through enhancing self/employment, job creation and income generation.
Target groups
  1. Refugee and Host community youth in Kakuma; 2’500 young people (16-25 years) with a 50/50 gender ratio including 20% of young mothers benefiting from enhanced skills.
  2. Kakuma based local partner organisations.
  3. Non-formal skills development providers
Medium-term outcomes
  • Through Skills training participants are economically active, either as self-employed or as employees.
  • Through coaching in Employment, Business and Mavuno Group development, participants have enhanced resilience and livelihood coping through income generation in business groups, in self- or wage employment and have increased access to financial services.
  • Sustainability, scalability and cooperation is enhanced through replicating and use of the project model.



Expected results:  

  • Formation of trade-based learning groups.
  • Training in trade related Vocational Skills, Soft Skills (Communication, Sexual reproductive health, Entrepreneurship, Financial Literacy, Work Readiness Training), and as elective in basic Literacy and Numeracy skills. New Training Packages developed.
  • Business Group members coached in establishing and maintaining Businesses
  • Strengthening the consolidation, updating and documentation of the project model internally at SDC and externally.

Results from previous phases:   So far, two phases have been implemented between 2013-2016 and 2016-2019. Key results since 2013 were as follows; 2,200 refugees and host communities were trained on various skills (technical, life and business), 109 business groups formed with 43 business groups being licenced, out of which 17 were refugee groups, 9 training packages applied, 75 active saving groups formed, which mobilized total savings of KES 3’054’400 (CHF 30’540). The groups disbursed loans worth KES 13’574’100 (CHF 135’740). Conflict and gender dynamics were also positively affected.

Directorate/federal office responsible SDC
Credit area Development cooperation
Project partners Contract partner
Swiss Non-profit Organisation
  • Swisscontact

Other partners
Coordination with other projects and actors UNHCR, IFC, Refugee Consortium of Kenya, World Bank, National Industrial Training Authority (NITA), local government officers, education /vocational training NGOs in Kakuma.
Budget Current phase Swiss budget CHF    1’940’000 Swiss disbursement to date CHF    1’940’000
Project phases

Phase 2 01.09.2019 - 31.12.2022   (Completed)