Street scene in downtown Dadaab.
|Province||North Eastern Province|
|Time zone||EAT (UTC+3)|
Dadaab features a UNHCR base that serves refugee camps around the town: Hagadera, Ifo Dagahaley and Kambios. The international humanitarian organization CARE is UNHCR's lead implementing partner responsible for managing the camp. Much of the town's economy is based on services for the base's residents. The camps cover a total area of 50 square km and are within an 18 km radius of Dadaab town.
Dadaab hosts people that have fled various conflicts in the larger Eastern Africa region. Most have come as a consequence of the civil war in southern Somalia, including both Somalis and members of Somalia's various ethnic minority groups such as the Bantu. Most of the latter have migrated from the southern Juba River valley and the Gedo region, while the remainder have arrived from Kismayo, Mogadishu and Bardera. In 1999, the United States classified the Bantu refugees from Somalia as a priority and the United States Department of State first began what has been described as the most ambitious resettlement plan ever from Africa, with thousands of Bantus in Dadaab scheduled for resettlement in America.
The Dadaab camps (Ifo, Dagahaley, Hagadera) were constructed in the early 1990s. Ifo camp was first settled by refugees from the civil war in Somalia, and later efforts were made by UNHCR to improve the camp. As the population expanded, UNHCR contacted German architect Werner Shellenberg who drew the original design for Dagahaley Camp and Per Iwanson initiated the creation of Dagahaley camp. For many years the camps were managed by CARE, and later environmental and waste management issues were overseen by GTZ.
Deforestation has an effect on the lives of Dadaab's residents. Despite typically being required to remain in the camp, residents often have to venture out in search of firewood and water. This leaves women and girls vulnerable to violence as they journey to and from the camp.
In 2006, flooding severely affected the region. More than 2,000 homes in the Ifo refugee camp were destroyed, forcing the relocation of more than 10,000 refugees. The sole access road to the camp and to the town was also cut off by the floods, effectively cutting off the town and refugee camps from essential supplies. Humanitarian agencies present in the area worked together to bring vital goods to the area. This effort resulted in the creation of the Ifo 2 camp extension in 2007 by the Norwegian Refugee Council. However, legal problems with the Kenyan Government prevented Ifo 2 from fully opening for resettlement until 2011. With camps filled to capacity, NGOs have worked to improve camp conditions. However, as most urban planners frequently lack the tools to contend with such complex issues, there have been few innovations to improve Dadaab. Opportunities remain such as upgrading and expansion processes for communications infrastructure, environmental management and design.
In 2011, the East Africa drought caused a dramatic surge in the camps' population. In July 2011, it was reported that more than 1000 people per day were arriving in dire need of assistance. The influx reportedly placed great strain on the base's resources, as the capacity of the camps is about 90,000 whereas the camps hosted 439,000 refugees as of July 2011 according to the UNHCR. The number was predicted to increase to 500,000 by the end of 2011 according to estimates from Médecins Sans Frontières. Those population figures ranked Dadaab as the largest refugee camp in the world.
According to the Lutheran World Federation, military operations in the conflict zones of southern Somalia and a scaling up of relief operations had by early December 2011 greatly reduced the movement of migrants into Dadaab. Rainfall had also surpassed expectations and rivers were flowing again, improving the prospects of a good harvest in early 2012.
By February 2012, aid agencies had shifted their emphasis to recovery efforts, including digging irrigation canals and distributing plant seeds. Long-term strategies by national governments in conjunction with development agencies are believed to offer the most sustainable results.
- "Dadaab: The World's Biggest Refugee Camp". English.aljazeera.net. July 11, 2011.
- "Inside world's biggest refugee camp". Blogs.aljazeera.net. July 8, 2011.
- "Refugee Reports November 2002" 3. Refugees.org.
- Dan Van Lehman, Omar Eno. "The Somali Bantu: Their Culture and History". Culture Profile No. 16, February 2003. Center for Applied Linguistics. Retrieved 23 July 2012.
- Salmio, Tiina. "Refugees and the Environment: An Analysis and Evaluation of UNHCR's Policies in 1992-2002" (PDF). Migrationinstitute.fi.
- "Norwegian Refugee Council homepage". Nrc.no.
- "Sphere Humanitarian Standards". Sphereproject.org.
- Daniel Howden (August 2011). "UN and Kenya attacked over $60m Somali refugee camp that still stands empty". Independent.co.uk.
- [Mitchell Sipus] (December 2009). "Technology Based Development Opportunity Within Dadaab Refugee Camp, Kenya".
- "Plea for 'massive aid' for Africa refugees". English.aljazeera.net. July 10, 2011.
- "UN High Commissioner for Refugees applauds Kenya’s decision to open Ifo II camp". UNHCR. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "Number of Somali refugees declining due to aid and rainfall". Pcusa.org.
- Gettleman, Jeffrey (3 February 2012). "U.N. Says Somalia Famine Has Ended, but Warns That Crisis Isn’t Over". New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "The worst drought in 60 years in Horn Africa". Africa and Europe in Partnership. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
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