South Sudan Emergency Aid: The Urgent Need for Water at Kakuma Refugee Camp

Since December 2013, the war in South Sudan has raged on and the turmoil continues. Many continue to flee into the into neighboring Kenya, where the Kakuma refugee camp is located. From February 3rd to the 8th, Naoki UMEDA and Daijo TSUCHIKAWA were AAR Japan's staff on the ground, sent to give emergency assistance and conduct research. Despite the swelling number of refugees, the camp suffers from severe water shortages. This is UMEDA reporting.

People Going Without Water in Severe Heat

AAR Japan's Naoki UMEDA (right) listening to details from a local aid group (Kakuma refugee camp, Kenya. February 4th, 2014.)
From February 2nd, ongoing talks with both refugees and aid workers have made it clear that the need for water is the most urgent issue at hand.
Since December 15th last year, the number of South Sudanese who have arrived in Kakuma has already reached 14,000 <UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees), 2014/2/5> . Many have endured a long journey, only to arrive and find they will likely receive below 10 liters of water on average per day, per person. In contrast, a single Japanese person uses around 300 liters per day (according to figures from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism), making the daily available amount in Kakuma only 1/30 to that of Japan. It is this small amount that must be used for everything from drinking water, to cooking and washing.


South Sudan: “I want to go to school by any means.” Education, the Hope at Refugee Camp

Because of continuous disorder caused by civil war in South Sudan since December 2013, more and more people have fled to Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, a neighboring country of South Sudan. In order to provide emergency assistance, Naoki UMEDA and Daiki TSUCHIKAWA, AAR staff members in South Sudan, visited the site on February 3rd to conduct a field survey. Despite increasing numbers of refugees, water supply is acutely inadequate at the camp. There also arises another problem of insufficient education for the children. Daiki TSUCHIKAWA reports on the latest situation.

Refugees are on the increase, but schools are insufficient

About 100,000 refugees from neighboring countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia, Burundi, as well as South Sudan live in Kakuma Refugee Camp which was founded in 1992. Since many of the refugees are unable to return to their home countries, schools have been set up for these children. There are 6 nursery schools, 17 elementary schools, and 5 junior high schools in the camp. However, due to an influx of new refugees from South Sudan, they urgently need more schools.
Considering this situation, LWF (Luther World Federation), an international NGO, set up a new school at Kakuma Refugee Camp. On February 3rd, under the 5 tents provided by UNICEF (The United Nations Children’s Fund), around 1,700 children ranging from kindergarten to 3rd grade of elementary school are studying in this new school. However, there’s no desks or chairs, only some mats on the ground. Although the number of children is expected to grow, the school has almost reached its capacity and children over 4th grade of elementary school are not accepted into the school.
5 tents are used as a school. However the school has almost reached its enrolment limit due to capacity constraints.
(Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, February 4th, 2014)

More schools and educational equipment, such as tents, strong enough to withstand sandstorms, and desks are in need for the growing numbers of children. The tents currently being used for schools are not strong enough and a lot of sand comes into the classroom. Although there are neither blackboards nor desks, the children are still anxious to study under the tough circumstances.
There are 17 teachers in the new school and they are all refugees. Former teachers and other dedicated people voluntarily teach the children. (Daiki TSUCHIKAWA (right) AAR staff: Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, February 4th, 2014)

Children gathering in the new “school”, which is a tent with no equipment. They are taking a lesson without any chairs or desks. (Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, February 4th, 2014)


Provide a place to study for youth, who have been robbed of their ordinary lives

Joseph is an 18 year old former soldier and a Nuer. He took part in the recent battle and while he was patrolling in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, he witnessed the soldiers of Dinka, the opponent ethic group, killing Nuer residents without hesitation. This convinced him that it was just a matter of time before he would be killed. Then, he threw away his weapon and escaped immediately. He changed buses and finally managed to reach Kakuma Refugee Camp. He said, “I’m glad that the public safety is maintained and nobody own firearms at the camp. I'm going to go to school.”
At Kakuma Refugee Camp, I encountered a number of young people who are eager to receive education. A boy in his late teens said, “In my hometown, I looked after cattle and goats and had no options for schooling. But I don’t have any livestock here. I want to start studying from the 1st grade of elementary school.”  A boy of 18 said, “I lost my parents and relatives in this battle and I came to the camp all by myself. I cannot tell what will happen to me, but I do want to go to school by any means.” Having education is a hope at the refugee camp not only for small children but also for young people who have been robbed of their ordinary lives.

Children gathering around AAR staff, Naoki Umeda after their class. (Kakuma Refugee Camp, Kenya, February 4th, 2014)

AAR plans to continue its survey and provide refugees with much needed assistance such as water supply and educational support, coordinating with other humanitarian organizations so as not to duplicate the support. Activity reports will be updated on the AAR website. We appreciate your support.

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Daiki TUCHIKAWA AAR JAPAN South Sudan Office (profile as of the date of the article)
Started working at AAR in October 2012. He has been dispatched to South Sudan since April 2013. After graduating from a university, he worked as a system engineer and senior high school teacher. Afterwards, majored development study at graduate school in Australia. Born in Iwate Prefecture and grew up in India.

Radio drama capturing the fear of landmines and UXOs airs in Sudan

Landmines and unexploded ordinance (UXO) from the civil war put people's lives at risk even after the conflict's end Until all the remaining landmines are cleared, AAR dedicates itself to educating the people in Sudan, Afghanistan, and Laos so that those living in landmine-affected areas will not become victims of such weapons. We advise them on how best to avoid becoming involved in landmine-related accidents in their daily lives, and what to do when they come across landmines or UXO, taking into consideration the local customs and values. Here is a report from Ms. Harumi Kawagoe, an AAR staff from Khartoum Office in Sudan.

Original teaching materials reflecting a variety of cultural aspects

People in Sudan have been tormented by the countless landmines and UXO planted and dropped during the civil war lasting for more than 20 years. Since 2006,AAR has visited many villages, providing information sessions with our original teaching materials such as posters, flip charts, and songs.  As of January 31, 2014, we have reached 88,483 people in Sudan and raised awareness of the risks and threat of landmines and UXOs. For the local people to have better understanding of these sessions, we have created our own teaching materials that are compatible with the customs and cultures in the area. Before we begin to deliver these sessions, we conduct interviews with local people and children in the target area to find out their awareness level of their own culture as well as the risks of landmines and UXOs, and the results are reflected in our material development.
"We were anxious to find out what would become of Yasir," said the children who listened to the prototype of our radio drama. They enjoyed the content. (Kassala, February 2013)


South Sudan: Conducting Research at a Refugee Camp

In South Sudan, fighting triggered by political conflict has persisted since December 2013. As a result of the fighting between the ethnic groups of Kiir's Dinka and Nuer, thousands have been killed, 700,000 have been internally displaced, and 130,000 have fled abroad. <UNOCHA (United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) 2014/2/3>

With an aim to provide emergency assistance, Naoki UMEDA and Daijo TSUCHIKAWA from AAR’s South Sudan office have been conducting research since February 3 at the Kakuma refugee camp.  Located in the northwest of Kenya, it has been flooded with refugees. This report is written by Naoki UMEDA.

Established in 1992, the Kakuma refugee camp is the largest refugee camp in the world with approximately 100,000 refugees. Buses operated by UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) arrive at Kakuma camp daily with refugees who have fled to Nadapal, Kenya, located along the South Sudan border. 

On average, the camp accepts 400 refugees daily. After taking vaccines and completing refugee registration in Nadapal, the refugees are then taken to Kakuma by bus, where they spend the first night at the temporary tent area beside the reception center. 

New arrivals are given some food, a mat and a blanket to spend the first night at this temporary accommodation (Kakuma, Kenya, February 3rd, 2014)