Environmental Best Practices in UNHCR
EIA of a proposed refugee camp, Fafi District, North-Eastern Kenya
Project dates: June 2009
At the request of UNHCR and CARE International, ProAct led a multi-agency team to conduct an environmental impact assessment (EIA) mission to Dadaab, North-eastern Kenya, to assess the establishment of a proposed new refugee camp. An EIA for the proposed new camp is required under Kenya's Environmental Management and Co-ordination Act (EMCA) 1999 and the Environmental (Impacts Assessment and Audit) Regulation 2003. It is also part of UNHCR's own environmental management requirements.
The Dadaab region currently hosts three refugee camps – Ifo, Dagahaly and Hagadera. Designed for a total of 90,000 people, they now accommodate more than 280,000 refugees. Given the numbers of refugees arriving on a monthly basis, UNHCR's predictions are that at least an additional 100,000 people will have arrived in Dadaab by the end of 2009. Congestion in the camps has resulted in overcrowding, reduced access to camp facilities and services such as water, sanitation and health care and an increased risk of communicable diseases.
The assessment was carried out through a combination of desk research, on-site investigations and consultations with different stakeholder groups. Some key findings emerging from an analysis of the impacts of the proposed new camp include the following figures:
- 10,950,000 m3 of water would need to be provided;
- 300,660 tonnes of firewood would be consumed;
- 438,000 tonnes of waste that would need to be treated;
- 21,600 tonnes of wood are required – at a minimum – for plot perimeter fencing; and
- 192,000m3 of soil would be required for bricks for refugee shelters alone. Additional materials would be required for institutional facilities.
While these issues were examined purely in the context of a proposed new camp site, they cannot be seen in isolation from the environmental impacts of the current operations and those of the previous 18 years while refugees have been in Dadaab. Based primarily on the anticipated impacts associated with fuelwood, shelter materials and refugee livestock, the potential environmental impact of the proposed new camp is considered as high.
Two sets of recommendations were made on the basis of the ProAct-led assessment, some of which are of a general nature in relation to environmental management in the Dadaab context and others in direct reference to the proposed new site.