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Mohamed Ibrahim Sugow - Masters of Business Administration (Strategic Management), Kenyatta University, Kenya

Dr. Priscilla Ndegwa - Department of Business Administration, School of Business, Kenyatta University, Kenya


Since the onset of the conflict in Somalia in 1990s, Kenya continues to host the largest Somali refugee population in the region. Given the extended duration of their stay in Kenya, the economic situation of the refugees is increasingly deteriorating mainly due to depletion of resources, savings, and remittances, as revealed by a joint assessment mission conducted on refugees in June 2009. The situation is further aggravated given that Somali refugees in Kenya are not permitted to work, own property accordingly, they are fully dependent on external support, including humanitarian assistance. The overall objective of this study therefore was to evaluate food voucher choice and refugees livelihoods in Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya. The specific objectives of the study was to establish the effect of access to market information, perception of beneficiaries and vendors, cost- effectiveness and coordination mechanism on food voucher choice and refugees livelihoods in Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya.This study adopted a descriptive research design and the study intended to gather quantitative and qualitative data.The sample size was 234 respondents comprising of 30 refugee camp leaders and 204 traders and aid workers. The study established that access to market information, access to perceptions of beneficiaries and vendors, cost effectiveness and coordination mechanism strategy had a positive and significant effect on refugee’s livelihoods in Dadaab refugee camp, Kenya. The study recommended that functioning and integrated markets are key prerequisites for using a market-based approach for providing food assistance. For cash or voucher transfers to work,people must be able to buy what they need in their local markets and markets must have the capacity to respond to increased demand through increased supply rather than through increased prices, availability of food in Dadaab camp markets is determined by the seasonal production cycles, and in the case of commodities not locally produced by the road conditions during the rainy season and main trade barriers in both camps have to do with road conditions and transport, and with the lack or irregular supply which increases transport cost. In Dadaab camp the most important constraint to trade reported by the camp leaders was poor road conditions which is clearly linked to the accessibility problems during the rainy season and the multitude of partners and initiatives foreseen in multi-year plans requires dedicated staff time within the camp to ensure effective planning and coordination, to harness financial resources, and to oversee camp’s interventions through selected implementing partners and their gradual hand-over as appropriate. The study recommended that the adoption of Vouchers as the bet modality than cash in the highly volatile security context of the refugee camps, where even minor incidents quickly escalate to fighting,deaths, and displacement as it has been witnessed in refugee camps in 2012, that the Government of Kenya should be responsible for security in the refugee camps and should express a strong preference for vouchers over cash. Vouchers should be delivered, through Safaricom’s closed loop system which has been analyzed to be the most cost efficient, secure, commercially available system, in order to maximize benefits to the host communities; local producers need to be linked to the new market opportunity. The non-governmental organizations operating in Dadaab camp should apply their expertise in building market linkages through technical assistance to the relevant ministries in the government of Kenya and taking vouchers to every household in the refugee camps needs strong coordination within the relevant NGOs and the involvement of all core functional areas in the design and delivery of the programme. The study suggested that further studies should be carried out on strategic responses on Vouchers for food assistance in Kenya’s refugee camps.

Full Length Research (PDF Format)