Why RLOs are the best problem-solvers for their communities

Programme Officer Amina Adnan, reflects on why refugee-led organisations are the best problem-solvers for their communities, and how we're strengthen their efforts.

Kenya hosts over 495,000 refugees and asylum seekers. One of the largest refugee populations in Africa spread across urban and camp areas. When a refugee sets foot in the country, UNHCR, the Refugee Affairs Secretariat (RAS), and other humanitarian actors provide support in terms of protection, access to basic needs, education and livelihood. Unfortunately, not all refugees can meet their needs despite the support. Donor funded programs have also experienced unexpected changes like reduced funding making humanitarian actors and refugees adapt to new ways of sustaining themselves. 

In refugee camps and urban areas, CBOs, NGOs, FBOs, youth groups, savings groups, and many other institutes operate. These establishments not only address challenges within refugee communities but also serve their needs.

As a humanitarian actor working with refugee-led organisations, I believe the best way to respond to the needs of refugees is by building on what these establishments are doing to help their communities lead fulfilled lives. These organisations are the best creators of solutions because they are part of refugee communities and know what areas to prioritise. They know what resources are available to them and are more adept at understanding the nuances of the challenges.

Over the years, I have observed that the main gaps hindering refugee-led organisations from effectively implementing projects are the need for capacity strengthening, information sharing, and access to funding opportunities. Xavier Project’s development and delivery of the Capacity Strengthening and Sharing Course has enabled them to get the necessary skills to identify problems within their community and independently develop and implement sustainable projects. 

Our focus at Xavier Project is strengthening the capacity of these refugee-led organisations and providing access to funding. We recognise the changing nature of humanitarian aid, and one constant is the continuous presence of grassroots organisations serving their communities. Knowing that I am part of catalysing the growth and impact of refugee-led organisations gives me purpose.

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