A little over a week ago I was fortunate to be able to attend the UN High Commission for Refugee (UNHCR) stakeholders meeting. This was a meeting was intended to gather the key stakeholders in the international community who contribute to the Kenyan refugee situation. In an intimate setting, this meeting also enabled all beneficiaries to meet their financial donors and development agencies to discuss what has or has not been working, also to contemplate future plans and potential outcomes.

All the development agencies agreed that refugee management in Kenya is a hard task. It was stated that Kenya is already confronted with the immense needs of its own citizens; as a result, sharing the land, resources, and services so intimately between refugee camps and host communities causes a major strain on the development progresses. Although, it was apparent that Kenyan Government is eager to see successful reintegration and the efficient socioeconomic inclusion for their refugees.

The presentation about Kakuma Camp in Turkana County was my favourite. The development agency working with the camp had done a study of their refugee population to find that 98% of people in the camp owned a mobile phone. The study also found that the majority of these people electronically conversed over Whatapp. This development agency discovered that through the use of Whatapp they were able to send refugees PDF files, voice recordings (in many languages), and they are able to keep refugees informed about the status of their cases. This new way of mass communication helps to speed up the development process by cutting out major bureaucracies between displaced peoples and governments, thus eliminating some stress for an already vulnerable group.

The meeting ended with a simple statement which resonated with me, “prevention is cheaper than conflict resolution.” I believe this was a beautifully placed statement, as it can be applied in so many different settings. It is a statement which leaves us with the question, what is the prevention measure to rid nations of mass conflict and insecurity?


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