Kenya- Kakuma Refugee Camp

Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya August 2013

In August 2013, One Million Lights(OML) partnered with the United Nation High Council for Refugees(UNHCR) and the Lutheran World Federation(LWF) to distribute solar lanterns in the Kakuma Refugee camp in Northern Kenya. Kakuma is a active refugee camp started in the early 90s, and is currently housing about 125,000 people from various east African countries particularly Somalia, Sudan, Ethiopia and the Congo.

We worked closely with LWF to identify high-risk groups and used OML’s distribution experience to ensure equitable distribution. LWF is responsible for operating the schools and many of the social services in the camps.  We worked with their staff to generate the lists of those most vulnerable people and quantities of lights for each group. LWF communicated with and mobilized the community to know what was happening and how the distributions would operate. This pilot distribution in the camp was with 700 lanterns that we split between the diverse at-risk groups.

The first target group was children with handicaps and their families. This included mental and physical handicaps and went to the mother of the child unless she wasn’t part of the household, in which case it went to the children themselves. We also focused in on child headed households, which is when the leader of the household is under 18 and most often a sibling of the other children.  We worked with the schools to provide lighting for after school study and teacher work. The last group was the reception center, where we provided lights to the area where new refugees are received and held. They often arrive with nothing, and in a posttraumatic state, so a light to live by is very transformative of the experience.
Ultimately the distribution was a great success.

Thank you Energizer!

We got good feedback both on the lantern and its design as well as the project and its impact. The UNHCR doesn’t have a consolidated strategy to address lighting, so the need for programs such as ours in great. The challenge of this area is the scale, with over 120,000 refugees not including the local host community and the aide workers. We effected a small portion of total households, as mentioned around 650 households totaling around 2500 people. We are invited back to distribute again, and supremely thankful of our partners including Energizer who provided the lanterns,  for their efforts in regards to coordination and mobilizing our project as well as there ongoing efforts to benefit and support the refugees.