Kakuma Refugee Camp: Turkana County’s bustling economic region

Kakuma Refugee Camp is located on the outskirts of Kakuma town, which is the headquarters for Turkana West District of Turkana County in Nothern Kenya.

The camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement are home to over of 190,000 registered refugees and asylum-seekers.

Although businesses and local enterprises struggle to scale up due to lack of capital and low purchasing power of locals, Kakuma is a bustling $56 million market and home to approximately 250,000 people, with thousands of businesses, entrepreneurs, and discerning consumers.

Sadiki Claude Dako has been living in the refugee camp for 8 years since he moved to Kenya from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Just like many other refugees and host community members, Sadiki decided to start a construction company to improve his livelihood, create employment to locals and refugees and boost the economy of the region.

Registered in December 2019, Dabibu Building Company (DBC) currently has 25 construction workers.

Most of its clients are non-governmental organisations, community members and private sector entities operating within Kakuma and Kalobeyei area.

“Before, we used to work individually, which made some contractors misuse masons. After work, they would give us small amount of money and that was it. So why not start our own business so that we can also be contracted like them?” says Sadiki.

Sadiki’s initiative has brought together people of different nationalities to work towards a common goal of improving their livelihoods and the region’s economy.

“It is really encouraging to have a team work together. Either be a Kenyan or a refugee, no matter what their background is, we are able to work together and boost our business as much as we can,” he adds.

DBC plans to expand its reach by opening hardware stores across the county to grow the economy of the region for the benefit of the host communities and refugees.

Most businesses in Kakuma area are not registered because of the long and complex application processes.

The Kakuma Kalobeyei Challenge Fund (KKCF) is a program of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), implemented by the Africa Enterprise Challenge Fund (AECF).

The five-year program is designed to support private sector investment and unlock the economic potential of refugees and their hosts, in Kenya’s Turkana County.

The programme will address some of the challenges the community members face such as difficulty in registering their businesses by establishing a one-stop-shop (Huduma Centre) and providing most of the registration services which are currently not easily accessible to the people in Kakuma.

KKCF aims to address the following development challenges in the Kakuma and Kalobeyei areas:

  • Limited access to capital which has prevented the locals from opening their own businesses.
  • Lack of access to reliable, affordable energy.
  • Lack of clean water for domestic use and poor sanitation.
  • Limited access to childcare services

Watch Sadiki’s video story here.


Nicholas Sewe, AECF Communications Assistant