Conflicts in Kenya’s neighbouring countries have led displaced populations to find protection in Kenya’s refugee camps and urban settlements. In both settings young refugees lack the opportunities to further their education or find employment. This leaves the young people with little skills to defend themselves and puts them at risk to getting involved in criminal activities, armed groups or fall victim to sexual abuse and drug consumption. RET intervenes in Dadaab refugee camps, as well as in urban settings to provide empowerment, livelihood skills and formal education to the most vulnerable displaced youth.


  • 1.
    The Crisis Affecting Kenya
  • 2.
    Its Impact on Young people
  • 3.
    How RET Protects Them

1. The Crisis Affecting Kenya

Over the years, continued political instability in neighbouring countries and severe drought in the region led certain populations to seek safe haven in Kenya.

Sudan has undergone five decades of civil conflict that led to South Sudan’s independence. Somalia still suffers from a weak state and an intense multifaceted civil conflict dating from the late 1980s. While Kenya also has IDPs, its major challenge remains the approximately 550’000 refugees (over 482’000 of whom are from Somalia) residing in cramped, harsh and dangerous camps and settlements.

Kenya hosts the world’s largest refugee complex, Dadaab. It was established in 1991, and is comprised of 5 camps and hosts a total of approximately 400’000 refugees. This is about three times its original capacity. A portion of refugees driven by informal trade and work opportunities also settled in the urban neighbourhood of Eastleigh in Nairobi.

2. Its Impact on Young people

As the conflicts in Somalia became protracted, Dadaab and Eastleigh increasingly became permanent homes for a whole generation of refugee youth born and raised in Kenya.

In Dadaab as in Eastleigh, most young people lack the opportunities to further education or engage in gainful employment. In Dadaab alone, young people between the ages of 14 and 24 years make up 22% of the camps’ total population; however, only 9% of primary students have access to secondary education.

Such trends predispose adolescents and youth to criminality, recruitment into unlawful groups, drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, early marriages, etc. Equally, young people do not possess the relevant skills, which would allow them to play a meaningful role in an eventual repatriation to their home country.

3. How RET Protects Them

In order to build young people’s capacity and self-reliance, RET has intervened in Dadaab as well as in Nairobi to provide youth empowerment through capacity building for youth associations and youth led projects for positive social change; accelerated formal education and non-formal education in the form of life skills, as well as sustainable livelihoods programmes in the form of digital work, apprenticeship placements, small farming and more.

This provides young people with valuable skills both in the current context of Kenya and upon their eventual repatriation or resettlement, which will enable them to become positive actors and lead their communities out of crisis and towards development.