Skip to main content
European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
Brian Inganga/European Union, 2019



Kenya hosts over 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers. They are entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance, even for their most basic needs.

After 3 poor rain seasons, compounded with the impact of COVID-19, food insecurity in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid lands is increasing.

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

What are the needs?

Kenya announced its intention to close all refugee camps by the end of June 2022, but seems to have reversed its decision. Meanwhile, refugees, mainly from Somalia, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia, continue to arrive, including unaccompanied minors.

They are most likely to remain in Kenya. Returning home safely does not seem possible anytime soon for most of them. Many refugees remain undocumented, which limits their access to assistance.

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

Over 3.5 million people in the arid and semi-arid lands are experiencing high levels of food insecurity due to 3 consecutive poor rain seasons. In addition, over 600,000 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. Prices will likely continue to grow due to COVID-19, the economic crisis, the recent locust desert infestation, and the war in Ukraine (a major source of Kenya’s wheat imports).

The situation is expected to worsen, as the first rain season of 2022 – from March until May – started with scattered, delayed and low rainfall, and forecasts are negative.

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 basic 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 to prepare for emergencies
  • respond to food security emergencies for the most vulnerable people living in the arid and semi-arid lands.

In 2022, the EU is allocating €15 million in humanitarian funding in Kenya, including €2 million for the drought response. The funding aims at assisting refugees and responding to the growing food and nutrition insecurity in the 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 is also supporting the 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 the Arid and semi-arid lands of Kenya, 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 both refugee and host communities. We are providing 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. For example, we are offering learning opportunities for more than 135,000 pupils enrolled in schools in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps.

In 2020, the schools in the refugee camps had to close for nearly 10 months and re-opened only in early January 2021.

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.

Last updated: 21/04/2022
Picture: © European Union, 2019 (photographer: Brian Inganga)

Facts & figures

Hosts more than 500,000 refugees and asylum seekers (UNHCR)

2.8 million people require humanitarian assistance

Over 600,000 children aged 6 to 59months need malnutrition treatment

EU humanitarian funding:
€15 million in 2022
more than €220 million since 2012