More than 83,000 refugees and asylum seekers live in Kenya’s urban areas. The majority are in the capital of Nairobi. Refugees living in cities often have access to fewer protections than refugees living in camps. They often fall through the cracks of complex referral networks. The result is that their needs go unmet. Through our Urban Refugee Protection Program (URPP) in Nairobi, we assist refugees in regaining the ability to meet their essential needs. The URPP reaches about 10,000 refugees annually, working intensively with a core caseload of about 1,500 refugees.
The URPP also serves as a learning hub for the larger refugee-response field. We develop innovative programs, demonstrate that they work, and scale them to drive large-scale change. The URPP’s success has a unique opportunity to influence system-wide change. Learning generated from the URPP was the founding impetus for the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative (RSRI).
The URPP offers a holistic service approach with three phases:
1.) Phase 1: Identification and Assessment. First, we identify vulnerable refugee households. These families may face homelessness, food insecurity, health problems, and inadequate income. We then conduct a needs assessment for these households using the Self-Reliance Index (SRI) tool. The assessment guides RefugePoint caseworkers and the members of the household as they collaboratively outline a plan for how the family can work toward self-reliance.
2.) Phase 2: Stabilization. In Phase 2, we help households stabilize. This includes supporting refugees with housing, food assistance, household items, medical care, mental health counseling, and school fees. These are time-limited services to ready households for Phase 3.
3.) Phase 3: Empowerment/graduation. Once refugees’ basic needs are met, RefugePoint provides livelihood support. Our support is focused on micro-business development. This includes business training, business plan development, and microgrants.
Our combination of services and supports is refugee-centered. Our support is tailored to each household’s needs, desires, and capacity. Households are re-assessed every six months using the Self-Reliance Index to determine when they are self-reliant enough to graduate from the program. On average, this takes two years.