An integrated approach to the education and health of young people in refugee camps

To help young people in refugee camps to get an education, a broad consortium of technical and institutional partners is setting up a reproducible model of school infrastructures. The first beneficiary is the Kakuma camp in Kenya.

The Kakuma camp was established in 1992 by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) in response to the arrival of refugees who had crossed Sudan and Ethiopia on foot to flee the civil wars. The camp has now been in operation for over twenty years, during which it has witnessed major demographic changes. The camp is overpopulated today, with about 125,000 refugees, coming not only from Sudan and Ethiopia, but from Somalia and even Congo, and above all, a camp where over 50% of the refugees are under 17.

Youth education, a priority for the UNHCR

Besides the problems of hygiene, health and ethnic conflicts, youth education in the camps is a pressing concern for the UNHCR. This is why it wants to introduce an innovative multi-sector, long-term approach, in which all the players will strive for quality education. Apart from a curriculum adapted to the context, the idea is to create a reproducible model of a school, including infrastructure design and management, and water and sanitation systems.

The Education Above All program was created, and a broad consortium was formed for its implementation. Besides the UNHCR, it includes the Government of Kenya and the various authorities concerned, a number of top level technical and financial partners: the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, ASTAD project management, Qatar Solar, the Education Above All Foundation presided by Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser, and the Qatar Foundation.

The Veolia Foundation, like other corporate foundations (EDF Foundation, Vodaphone Foundation, etc.) has been approached to provide financial aid and technical skills in the area of mapping and sanitation.

Creating a standard and innovative system of latrines

The Veolia Foundation will take change of developing the sanitation and hygiene education of the young people of the Kakuma camp and the surrounding communities. In addition to awareness-raising, this means creating a standard and innovative latrine and sewage treatment system, as inexpensive as possible and, naturally, easy to maintain under the conditions prevailing in a refugee camp... while offering quality service.

The project is divided into two phases:

  1. An analysis and design phase involving the definition and precise quantification of the infrastructures to be built and the development of a geographic information system covering the entire camp
  2. An implementation phase, concerning the creation of water reservoirs for the schools, the construction or refurbishing of 166 sanitary blocks and sanitation facilities.

The other partners will deal with school design and construction (ASTAD); power generation (Qatar Solar and EDF) and telecommunications (Vodaphone).

A first mission in June 2014 served to confirm the relevance of the approach and the engagement of the partners. The Veolia Foundation is also organizing a series of missions of Veoliaforce experts to clarify the needs, map the sites and design feasible infrastructures.

The Education Above All program will be launched officially in Doha (Qatar) in November 2014 as part of the WISE 2014 (The World Innovation Summit for Education) project.