Kenya: Mudavadi Urges International Community, Donor Groups to Support Kenyan Local Farmers

Nairobi — The Government has urged the international community, donor groups and development partners to commit higher purchases of relief food for refugees to local farmers.

Prime Cabinet Secretary, Musalia Mudavadi has challenged the international community to increase relief food off take from Kenyan farmers saying the need for integration is important in supporting host communities.

He regretted that Kenyan farmers have been neglected while supporting the refugees and are struggling to sell their produce.

“One of the biggest debates we have had in Kenya for quite sometime is that when supporting the refugees, the Kenyan farmer has been neglected. We sometimes always grapple about the price of maize, wheat and what it takes,” said Mudavadi, during a forum to mark World Refugee Day, held in a Nairobi hotel.

According to Mudavadi, one of the pleas Government has always made is that within the package of providing relief food for either refugees or the needy groups, the international community should also embrace and commit higher purchases from the local farmers to feed these communities.

“It is sometimes tragic when we see that the farmer in Kenya is struggling to sell his/her maize but we are steadily importing all the grain to feed these refugee camps from elsewhere so the support goes to another farmer but it does not come to the host farmer,” regretted Mudavadi.

He added: “…So within the framework of your reorganization, I pitch for the Kenyan farmer so that when you are supplying that relief support please think of how you can increase the off take from the Kenyan farmer.”

Currently, Kenya is the 13th largest refugee hosting nation in the world and fifth in Africa.

According to Mudavadi, some 612, 413 registered refugees and asylum seekers are hosted in Kenya, out of which, 84 per cent are resident in the camps while the balance is in urban areas.

Somali, South Sudan and the DRC are the top three sources of Kenya’s refugee population with 56 per cent, 30 per cent and 7 per cent respectively.

There are also 94,417 refugees mainly in our major towns of Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru and Eldoret among others.

He said Kenya is managing refugees through encampment policy where refugees reside in two camps namely Kakuma and Dadaab.

The PCS however stated that the care and maintenance approach has not supported effective leverage of the social-economic potential of the refugees.

He said it has not purposed to tap into the refugees’ enormous potential to support the growth of host regions and the management of adverse environmental impact of the refugees’ presence.

“The administration is fully aware of the need to give full focus and attention to sustainable refugee management. Soon, the regulations to operationalize the Refugee Act 2021 will be tabled in Parliament for necessary approval and enactment,” Mudavadi said.

He affirmed that the Government is keen to create an enabling environment that supports socio-economic inclusion of refugees and the collective efforts to build the resilience of host communities.

Last year, he said the Government re-gazetted the Ifo2 and Kambios Camps and registration of members of the Somali Community has commenced. Similarly, he said Kenya has reopened its border Somalia and established three border points to serve not only as entry points, business, trade and tourism interests but also genuine asylum seekers.

“It is important to recognise the global shift in refugee management. Host countries are increasingly turning into settlements for refugees. This approach has two aims: to reduce reliance on humanitarian help from host governments and other humanitarian agencies, and to make refugees self-reliant and important players in the growth of host countries’ economy,” he stated.

Mudavadi said Kenya cannot be an exception to this trend, even as he reiterated the Government’s to transform refugee camps into integrated settlements.

“By promoting the socio-economic inclusion of refugees, we are collectively preparing them for the eventual voluntary repatriation to their home countries,” he affirmed.

To anchor this shift, the government developed a Marshal Plan “Shirika Plan” last year to provide relevant policy and implementation roadmap.

According to Mudavadi, the Plan will ensure that host communities in Turkana and Garissa benefit from additional development support.