Mahat and others creating a dyke near Darfur village (Copyright: Lydia Wamala)
WFP’s food for assets programme is increasing access to food among vulnerable host communities while helping nurture better relations between the locals and refugees in the Dadaab area.
WFP’s support to host communities around Dadaab is helping to reduce conflict while boosting food security among both the refugees and local communities.
A government official and several members of the host communities say that looting of food from refugees has decreased, and that refugees and community members now visit each other freely. They also say that WFP’s role is helping the locals cope with long dry spells in the region surrounding the world’s largest refugee settlement.
“Previously, there was a perception that the refugees were eating better than the locals”, says Yusuf Ali Aden, community chairman at Darfur village near Dagahaley camp. “At the same time the refugees were cutting down our trees. So our young men started stealing refugees’ food. But now there is some peace. We’re happy that we have food, plus our own agricultural land and our own trees.”
Three days a week Working through the Kenyan Government’s Garissa Rehabilitation Programme (GRP), WFP runs a food-for-assets project in the Dadaab region aimed at helping the most vulnerable. It is designed to improve water quality and agricultural infrastructure as well as increasing food security, reducing the camps’ impact on the environment and easing tension with the refugees.
WFP supports a total of 29 such projects in the Dadaab area. Participants are encouraged to work three days a week creating a variety of water-harvesting structures. Earthen dikes help trap water when it rains, enabling plants to grow and animals to have water. At the end of the month, workers get a family ration of cereals, pulses, vegetable cooking oil, salt and corn soya blend.
Bush into fields In Darfur, and other villages, the majority of participants are women.
“The project is very important”, says mother-of-two, Mahat Salat as she and other women walk home after making a bund. “It has really helped us. There was a lot of drought and our animals were dying but when we started this work, we began to get food.”
Joseph Rando, a GRP field coordinator, says that the Darfur area used to be just bush. However, it has been reclaimed and planted with 1,600 trees. He adds that it will now be possible for host communities to plant drought-resistant crops including maize, beans and sorghum.