This working paper, titled “Refugee Economies in Kenya: Preliminary Study in Nairobi and Kakuma Camp,” provides insights into the economic lives of refugees in Kenya. The study focuses on two locations: Nairobi, where refugees live outside of camps, and Kakuma camp, which hosts a large refugee population.
The paper begins by discussing existing research on the economic lives of refugees and introduces the concept of “Refugee Economies.” It then provides a historical background of refugees in Kenya and highlights the securitization of asylum and the challenges faced by refugees in the country.Â In Nairobi, the study finds that refugees engage in a variety of livelihood activities, including informal trading, small-scale businesses, and casual labor. However, they face challenges such as limited access to capital, discrimination, and insecurity. In Kakuma camp, refugees also participate in various economic activities, such as small-scale farming, trading, and skilled labor. The camp’s economy is connected to external markets and exhibits economic divisions among different refugee groups.
The paper concludes by discussing the implications of the research, including the diversity of refugees’ economic lives, the shrinking informal economic space, and the specific challenges faced by refugees in pursuing livelihoods. It suggests the need for further research and policy interventions to support refugee economic empowerment in Kenya.