KENYA: Govt raises funds, resettlement ongoing despite hitches

KENYA: Govt raises funds, resettlement ongoing despite hitches

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) at a camp in Eldoret, Rift Valley Province

NAIROBI, 13 May 2008 (IRIN) – The Kenyan government has raised Ksh1.46 billion (US$22.4 million) of the Ksh30 billion ($462 million) it says it needs to resettle at least 350,000 people displaced during the post-election crisis.

“The magnitude of the destruction caused by the violence was enormous; we will therefore require about 30 billion shillings to meet the full costs of resettlement, including reconstruction of basic housing, replacement of household effects, as well as rehabilitation of community utilities and institutions destroyed during the violence,” President Mwai Kibaki said on 12 May during a funding drive in Nairobi.

Kibaki helped to raise Ksh457,272,129 ($7 million), with donations mainly from government ministries and individual businesses, for the Humanitarian Fund for Mitigation of Effects and Resettlement of Victims of Post-2007 Election Violence.

On 5 May, the government launched a resettlement plan targeting 158,000 IDPs in camps across the country, which has seen some 85,000 IDPs resettled so far.

Kibaki said the programme started with those living under difficult conditions in various camps and that the next phase would involve those who sheltered with relatives and friends.

“I want to emphasise that the ongoing resettlement programme which commenced early last week is purely voluntary, and the government will not coerce people to return to their homes,” he said.

Resettlement concerns

However, the international community and some IDPs have expressed concerns over the lack of consultation with stakeholders before the launch of “Operation Rudi Nyumbani” (Operation Return Home).

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga toured Rift Valley Province ahead of the government’s resettlement programme

“I am aware of the fears and reservations expressed by some of the displaced people with respect to the ongoing resettlement programme,” Kibaki said. “I want to assure them that the government has put in place adequate security arrangements for their safety. Moreover, the current resettlement initiatives are the outcome of intense reconciliation efforts by grassroots peace committees and the local leaders.”

In a humanitarian update covering 1-9 May, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reported on 12 May that “due to the sudden and unexpected nature of the operation, serious concerns have been raised about the lack of consultation and participatory planning for returns.

“Some piecemeal requests for support from the international community are coming from line ministries at district level, emphasising the need for greater consultations and development of a more comprehensive return plan.”

OCHA said some coercion had been reported in specific camps by local authorities.

“Furthermore, the involvement of the military in the operation had added psychological pressure on IDPs to return in areas like Trans Nzoia and Molo,” OCHA said.

The IDPs’ ability to make informed decisions about their choice to return may have been compromised by the sudden and expedited nature of the operation and conditions in places of return, the agency reported.

More help for IDPs

“In the interim, the international community is focusing on how humanitarian aid can reach those who leave camps and may set up transitional camps or subsequently experience secondary displacement from places of return,” OCHA said. “Without adequate warning of the government resettlement operation, take-home rations were not prepared for the first to depart from many camps; quick efforts to prepare such resources are under way.”

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre says the displacement is complex and multi-faceted, and revolves around unresolved issues of land and property, as well as the struggle for control of political and economic resources.

The centre says while different displacement situations are distinct, they share common trends, and any effort to address them requires a holistic understanding of the country’s political history as well as the socio-economic and cultural dynamics of affected communities.

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
A boy drinks rain water at a camp for the displaced in Eldoret, Rift Valley Province

Rift Valley hosts the highest number of IDPs, 134,399 as at 1 May, according to figures from the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS). Before “Operation Rudi Nyumbani”, there were 158,124 IDPs in 157 camps across the country, the KRCS reported.

Food concerns

Fragile food security was exacerbating conditions for the displaced, stated OCHA, “while it also links to the sustainable return and resettlement of IDPs. In East Africa, the FAO [Food and Agriculture Organization] estimates that two million people are at risk of food insecurity, one-fifth of these as a result of humanitarian crises. Kenya is among these countries. A food deficit is expected in Kenya due to the global food shortages, increase in food prices and reduced production, primarily because of displacement.”

It said the fist planting season for maize was coming to a close yet many IDP families had yet to cultivate their lands, while farmers who were able to plant would not have the resources to provide second rounds of fertiliser to their crops.

“Furthermore, drought is expected, primarily in the arid and semi-arid land areas,” OCHA said, because of poor short rains from October to December 2007.

However, OCHA reported that the government had taken measures to improve the food security outlook. “In addition to the fund established [recently] for loans to farmers [ the ministry of agriculture has made tractors available in the North Rift for tilling land and has provided seed and fertilisers to farmers,” OCHA said.


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