Lodwar, June 5, 2024 (Public Communications and Media Relations)

The Deputy Governor, Dr John Erus has today officiated the County Stakeholders Engagement Forum focusing on refugee and host communities, hosted by Vereniging Nederlandse Gemeenten (VNG) International in Lodwar.

Turkana West Sub- County is one of the biggest global host communities to refugees, hosting over 300,000 out of the estimated total of 650,000 refugee population in Kenya.

Over the years, there have been growing concerns from the host community over unequal delivery of services and employment opportunities with perceived preferential treatment to the refugees.

VNG International through their Sustainable Development through Improved Local Governance (SDLG) programme aims to address these challenges by supporting county government in their role of shaping more sustainable future for both host and displaced communities within their territories.

The launch of the SDLG programme in Turkana led to the discussion of the crucial role of development partners, the national and county governments in improving social development and service delivery to host and refugee communities.

The forum fostered discussions on collaborative approaches for enhanced support and integration.

During the engagement forum, the DG emphasized the importance of public participation, in accordance with Article 10 of the Constitution of Kenya and highlighted the need for a robust NGO partner coordination framework.

“We acknowledge the valuable relationship with the National Government and the necessity of addressing the concerns of host communities while supporting refugee affairs. We remain committed to supporting Lodwar and Kakuma Municipalities and we therefore appreciate VNG International for their efforts in rolling out the SDLG programme”.

The VNG International Resident Programme Manager, Grainne Kidakwa explained the relevance of the forum was to start a discussion between various stakeholders through a collaborative and coordinated effort, in ensuring inclusive approaches in their service delivery to accommodate both the host and refugee communities.

“We are committed to strengthening local governance, creating better future, through a collaborative approach to service delivery in ensuring inclusive approach when making decisions that would affect the host and refugee communities,” said Grainne Kidakwa.

Kidakwa stated that it is important for the national government to consider supporting the county government in integrating refugees into the Turkana community.

She added that the relevance of burden sharing is to ensure collaboration between the County and Development Partners.

The Speaker of the County Assembly of Turkana, Christopher Nakuleu, welcomed the collaboration with partners, stating the necessity for government involvement in service delivery.

“There is need to leverage existing county structures and address land issues to prevent encroachment, as well as handling disparities between host and refugee communities in Kakuma”.

DG Erus also underscored the importance of local content and the development of local capacities, expressing gratitude on behalf of the Governor and the residents of Turkana for the commitment of VNG International to uplift the region’s development ventures.

The County Commissioner Julius Kavita emphasized the need to see tangible impact from NGOs operating within the region.

He acknowledged the county’s contribution by offering land to NGOs in Kakuma and stressed the importance of balancing benefits between refugees and host communities. He also called for proper documentation of refugees.

In Kenya, the SDLG programme zeroes in on the Migration thematic area, working in collaboration with the National Government, Garissa and Turkana County Governments, various government institutions to empower and enhance the capacities of local governments to foster sustainable future for both refugees and host communities.

The forum brought together senior county government officials including Deputy County Secretary, Dr Albert Gamoe, Directors, Manager Kakuma Municipality, Peter Emuria and host of MCAs.

The partner representatives included; UNHCR, UNICEF, DRC, ReDSS, RDM, APIR, Peace Winds Japan, LWF, INKOMOKO among others.


13TH-14TH AUGUST 2024