Kakuma to be elevated to municipality to attract investors

Senior Un Habitat Programmes Officer Ms Ivan Unluova (left) witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Un Habitat and Turkana county government on July, 12, 2022

Photo credit: Sammy Lutta | Nation Media Group

Kakuma town in Turkana West sub-county, which grew on the back of a refugee camp, is in the final stages of being elevated to municipality so as to attract investors.

This is after the Turkana County government and UN-Habitat on Wednesday announced a legal agreement that will streamline upgrading and create the desired changes for Kakuma-Kalobeyei as the second municipality after Lodwar.

UN-Habitat Senior Programmes Officer Ivan Unluova said the refugee agency UNHCR and other agencies of the world body had kicked off the process of elevating refugee hosting areas to municipalities, noting that the pact with Turkana would hasten it.

"The municipality will cover refugee hosting areas in Kakuma and Kalobeyei and settlements of host community,” Ms Unluova said. 

“With our expertise that is not based on the Kenya experience but the global experience, we will support the county government in the upcoming work relating to land governance issues, municipality financing and the overall trend of urbanisation across the county."

UN-Habitat, she said, promotes transformative change in cities and human settlements through knowledge, policy advice, technical assistance and collaborative action.

County Secretary Peter Eripete said Kakuma-Kalobeyei, by virtue of its population of more than 190,000 refugees and the host community, meets the standards to qualify for a municipality charter as stipulated in The Urban Areas and Cities Act of 2011.

Upgrading the town to a municipality, he said, will attract investors, who will in turn create employment for young people.

"Kakuma will also be assured of funding from donors such as the World Bank to further improve urban infrastructure, assuring traders and investors of better business and living conditions," he said.

The face of the town has changed tremendously from temporary corrugated iron-sheet structures to modern permanent structures, including hotels, hospitals and rental houses for the ongoing renovation of the Lodwar-Kakuma-Lokichoggio road linking Kenya and South Sudan.

Some of the most noticeable ones are Lavena Lounge, Lucky Restaurant and Cairo Palace whose lifeline is the road.

Others are Tarach Guest House, Narusi Guest House, Silga Hotel and Guest House, Nakosi hotel and guest house, Loswam Guest House and Prestige Guest House.

There is also the Vanillas Supermarket.

With the growth of the middle class in the area due to increased job and business opportunities, private health facilities have also mushroomed, including Gateway, Guardian Pharmaceutical, Turkland Medical Care and Shepherd Hospital.