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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
© European Union, 2019 (photographer: Brian Inganga)



Kenya hosts over 560,000 refugees and asylum seekers. They are dependent on humanitarian assistance, even for their most basic needs.

After 4 consecutive poor rain seasons, compounded with the impact of COVID-19 and rising commodity prices, food insecurity in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands is increasing.

According to the Long Rains Assessment released in August 2022, between October and December 2022, some 3.5 million people are facing acute food insecurity and over 4.3 million people are projected to be.

The EU continues its longstanding assistance to refugees in Kenya and responds to disaster-related emergencies.

What are the needs?

Kenya has revised its intention to close all refugee camps by June 2022. With the 2021 Refugee Act, there is a process of looking at converting camps into settlements.

Meanwhile, refugees, mainly from Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi and Ethiopia, continue to arrive, including unaccompanied minors.

They are most likely to remain in Kenya, as for most of them, returning home safely does not seem possible anytime soon. Unlike Kakuma, in the Dadaab complex newly arrived refugees still need to be fully registered, which limits their access to assistance.

Due to the encampment policy, refugees cannot leave the camps, and their access to services and aid depends on international assistance.

Over 3.5 million people in the arid and semi-arid lands are experiencing high levels of food insecurity due to 4 consecutive poor rain seasons and increasing food prices. In addition, over 880,000 children need urgent treatment for acute malnutrition.

Due to low harvests and declining livestock conditions, families’ income and food stocks dry up, increasing food prices. Moreover, the effects of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine on the international markets will continue to push food prices up.

The situation is expected to deteriorate further as the short rains season of 2022 – from October until December – is also expected to fail, with scattered, delayed and low rainfall.

Kenya country map

How are we helping?

Over the years, the EU has maintained its humanitarian support for refugee operations in Kenya. EU humanitarian actions have helped:

  • secure, safe, and dignified living conditions for refugees, including access to essential services like health and education
  • build the resilience of refugees and host communities in the arid parts of Kenya, where refugee camps are situated
  • support authorities in preparing for emergencies
  • respond to food security emergencies for the most vulnerable people in arid and semi-arid lands.

In 2022, the EU is allocating €17 million in humanitarian funding in Kenya, including €4 million for the drought response. The funding aims at assisting refugees and responding to the growing food and nutrition insecurity in arid and semi-arid lands.

In the Kakuma and Dadaab refugee camps, the EU continues to support the provision of basic life-saving aid such as (i) food assistance; (ii) healthcare; (ii) nutritional assistance; (iv) water, sanitation and hygiene; (v) protection; and (vi) education.

The EU also supports COVID-19 vaccination campaign in the refugee camps. This action is part of the EU’s humanitarian initiative supporting the rollout of COVID-19 vaccination campaigns in Africa.

In response to the extreme drought in Arid and semi-arid lands, the EU is also supporting vulnerable families with multi-purpose cash support. The aim is to ensure they have access to food and basic services.

Since 2012, the EU has provided more than €200 million in humanitarian aid to Kenya.

As a partial alternative to distributing in-kind food rations, the EU funds electronic food vouchers called ‘bamba chakula’ (‘get your food’ in Swahili) and cash transfers. Both modalities allow refugees to choose which food to buy, diversifying their diet while helping the local economy.

EU humanitarian aid helps health facilities offer comprehensive services, including in-patient wards for refugee and host communities. We provide them with clean water, sanitation facilities and hygiene promotion to prevent illnesses.

We also provide care for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence and work with communities in the camps to prevent it.

The EU contributes to the education of refugees and young people by providing, for example, learning opportunities for more than 135,000 pupils enrolled in schools in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps.

The situation is worse for girls and other vulnerable learners, such as children with disabilities. They are often left behind in an increasingly resource-scarce education environment. The EU supports education projects targeting children with disabilities and requires that at least 50% of the beneficiaries are girls.

Last updated: 24/10/2022

Facts & figures

Hosts more than 560,000 refugees and asylum seekers (UNHCR)

4.2 million people require humanitarian assistance

Over 880,000 children aged 6 to 59months need malnutrition treatment

EU humanitarian funding:
€17 million in 2022
more than €220 million since 2012