Kakuma is a sprawling refugee camp in north-western Kenya hosting some 200,000 refugees from across east Africa, including South Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Burundi.
The camp opened in 1992 and many of its long-term residents now live in mudbrick houses, but new arrivals are forced to crowd together in tents made from plastic sheeting and bamboo under scorching temperatures until the UN Refugee agency, UNHCR, can find them something more permanent.
Moved by the plight of the 30,000 refugees stuck on waiting lists for homes, UAE-based property developer, Arada - in partnership with Sharjah’s The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) - is sponsoring the construction of new houses and other infrastructure in the camp.
In 2022, the company’s CSR arm, the Arada Foundation, contributed just over US$ 1 million to pay for 407 new homes for 2,000 refugees and support an additional 43,000 people with clean water.
And this year, for every new house sold in the company’s new Masaar development in Sharjah during Ramadan, Arada says it will make a donation to UNHCR, who will then make cash available to refugee families in Kakuma to source materials locally like cement, sand, stone blocks, and timber to build their own home.
Peace Winds Japan (PWJ), an NGO, will oversee construction of the shelters, while UNHCR staff will deliver training to support the refugees and ensure the build quality meets standards.
“This approach creates accountability, and helps the recipients learn project management skills, as well as giving them a sense of pride in their new home,” explains Rosa Piro, Arada’s senior director of Business Development.