Visualizing Activities in Kenya’s Kakuma Refugee Camp

I visited Kalobeyei–Kakuma in northwestern Kenya in February 2016 as part of a joint mission to understand the needs and challenges of the refugees living there.

The mission was timed with the launch of the Humanitarian Private Sector Partnerships Platform (HPPP) — an initiative that creates opportunities for affected people, humanitarians, businesses and the government to address humanitarian needs through innovation and shared-value creation.

While there, I talked with staff in UNHCR’s Kakuma office on ways to surface data about partner activities in the camp. We agreed to develop an interactive data visualization showing who is doing what where (3W).

 

The data preparation work involved aggregating individual camp boundaries shapefiles to form a single shapefile representing the entire camp. There was also some data cleaning done to categorise agency activities to allow for a visualization. The dataset is available under the UNHCR Kenya organization on HDX.

This visual enables those far away and first-time visitors to the camp to have a comprehensive overview of the agencies that working in the camp, the services they provide, and where they are active. It can also be used by refugees to quickly find out the services offered by the various agencies.

Going forward, the UNHCR Kakuma office would like to have an additional visual that shows the locations of key facilities and landmarks in the camp — perhaps an opportunity for a Missing Maps project.

‘Kakuma 4’ Refugee Camp – the most recent settlement for new arrivals. Photo: Moses Sitati

Increasing the creation and use of this data will support the conversation within the HPPP to improve information sharing, communication and coordination between humanitarian and private sector in East Africa. It should be noted that at the time of this writing, the Kenyan Government has made an announcement of its intention to close all refugee camps in Kenya.