Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement was established in 2016 as a permanent settlement where the local Turkana host community and over 10 nationalities of refugee communities live side by side, with equal access to infrastructure and opportunities for all, while also structuring self-reliance.
Unlike traditional refugee settlements that are designed to be temporary, this settlement was planned to permanently support 60,000 refugees across three villages. However, the settlement has disproportionately limited access to inclusive public and green spaces, and it experiences an extreme climate with high exposure to the climatic risks of drought, extreme heat, and flash flooding.
This project showcases the impact of public spaces in vulnerable communities for refugee settlements that face societal challenges, especially those dealing with lacking or failing infrastructures, population dynamics, environmental conflict, and climate change.
With extensive experience working with communities in Kibera and other urban settlements to develop Productive Public Spaces, KDI recognizes the need to apply the model to other areas. KDI has joined other partners to support refugee and host communities in the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement to improve access to a growing network of vibrant and inclusive public spaces that support social integration, community well-being, access to economic opportunities, and flooding and extreme heat risk mitigation.
KDI has tested and adapted its participatory and collaborative approach in Kalobeyei through partnerships and engagement with host and refugee communities to assess, co-design and (re)program two dedicated public parks, as well as co-develop a new public park from scratch. Through engaging women, children, men, youth, and people with disabilities, KDI is co-creating public spaces that are accessible, inclusive, safe, and comfortable for use during both the heat of the day and the dark of the night, allowing longer periods of use.
The community-driven approach emphasized the importance of children's play and recreation, spaces for women to meet and conduct business, shaded zones for respite from the extreme heat, and multifunctional sports and games areas. Through community-based construction, including working with a local contractor, residents are deeply involved in the whole process to completion and are critical in the long-term management of the public spaces.
While the larger vision for public spaces in the settlement requires further advocacy and budgeting, the success of this community-led initiative provides a strong foundation for future development and serves as an inspiration to other communities to take action and create positive change in their own neighborhoods.
By providing safe, inclusive, and accessible public spaces, this network has cultivated vibrant and resilient communities that are better equipped to handle the challenges of extreme weather and other risks. The community-driven approach has also empowered local residents to take ownership of the development process, fostering a sense of pride and ownership over the public spaces.
The project fosters joy, safety, and collaboration, enhancing the overall well-being of the settlement. Collaboration between host and refugee communities not only improves their lives, but also supports the healing of historical tensions, interaction, and mutual respect.