Positioned on the edge of north-east Kenya since 1991, Dadaab is known as the largest refugee camp in the world and home to more than 470,000 people – most of whom have been forced to flee the on-going conflict in their neighbouring country of Somalia.
Severe drought in 2011 exacerbated the already fragile situation in the Horn of Africa and at times more than 1,000 people were arriving at the camp every day, with the Dadaab camp registering more than 113,5001 new arrivals between January and August that year.
The Kenya Red Cross Society, with support from the British Red Cross and other partners, is providing more than 85,000 refugees in the so-called IFO II area of the camp with access to health services, water and sanitation.
Improving living conditions
Frequent flooding has disrupted camp life, causing further displacement of refugees and an increase in the risk of disease. Overcrowding means that diseases are quickly spread and cholera, polio and diphtheria have become major health concerns.
To improve living conditions in the camp, the Red Cross is:
- providing health care to the community
- supporting pregnant women through a newly established hospital maternity wing
- constructing 8,000 latrines
- providing nutritious meals to refugees
- installing hand washing facilities in schools
- raising awareness of good hygiene to prevent the spread of disease.
Story continues below the map of Ifo II camp.
Ifo II camp
Family life centre
The security situation in Dadaab is volatile, with regular reports of incidents in and around the camp. This continues to cause concern over the safety of Red Cross staff and volunteers and has also led to road closures, making it difficult to access the camp with supplies.
Despite these challenges, the Red Cross continues to work with the communities at Dadaab, whose input is crucial to improving conditions. Women are particularly vulnerable and those that have been affected by sexual violence are being supported by the Red Cross.
For women who are pregnant, life is difficult – those in labour face a two-kilometre walk to the hospital. As well as improving maternal health at the camp, the Red Cross has arranged safe transport – also known as the mama taxi – to take women in labour to the nearest health facilities.
Updated June 2013