Promoting Life Skills and Livelihoods (S4L)

Skills for Life aimed to strengthen the income-generating capabilities of unemployed youth between 18 and 25 years by enhancing their access to technical skills training, financial, life and literacy skills for improved livelihoods. The project targeted both members of the host and refugee communities living in Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement located in Turkana County, the North-Western region of Kenya. Through improved access to employment opportunities and increased income generation, socio-economic integration of both the refugees and the host community is promoted and youth self-reliance increased. 
Kakuma, Kenya
Lokichogio, Kenya
Project duration
2016 - 2022
Financed by
  • Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation SDC

The project

Turkana County, the second-largest county in Kenya, has an estimated population of 926,976 with young people below the age of 19 years accounting for 60% of the host population. Classified as the most impoverished county, 79% of its inhabitants live in poverty with illiteracy levels at a high of 82% (Kenya Population Census, 2019).

Turkana West sub-county is home to Kakuma Refugee Camp, which hosts approximately 186,000 refugees from 21 nationalities (KISEDP Report, 2019). The camp was established in 1992 and has since grown and surpassed its capacity leading to the formation of Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement, located 20 km from Kakuma town. Turkana county shares a porous border with Uganda, Ethiopia, and South Sudan, which increases susceptibility to cases of insecurity and illegal migration. The residents mainly comprise of nomadic pastoralists who have limited access to basic education due to recurring conflicts and other socio-economic constraints.

Turkana's economy is mainly dependent on livestock. The county faces various challenges brought by recurrent drought, the rapid growth of the local population, the continued influx of refugees and over-dependence on humanitarian support. These have exacerbated the vulnerability of the livelihood systems and weakened the local economy. Presently, the county is seeking to achieve its potential by exploring other income-generating activities and developmental growth areas. It is against this background that the Skills for Life Project operated to help the youth explore diverse opportunities for improved livelihoods and achieve a sustainable development pathway.


Project Goals

Skills for Life promoted the socio-economic integration of refugees and the host community living in Kakuma and Kalobeyei through enhanced self-employment, job creation and income generation opportunities. The project targeted unemployed youth between 18 and 25 years, where graduates accessed skills training thereby improving their income-generating capabilities and livelihoods.

The project sought to catalyse systemic change in skills development and employment creation. It facilitated flexible, low-cost, market-oriented, and competency-based skills training, which served to create pathways to decent self/wage employment for the youth. In its last phase, the project aimed to achieve the following:

  • Increased access to vocational, life, business, financial and when required, basic literacy and numeracy skills among the refugees and the host community.
  • Enhanced resilience and livelihood coping solutions through income generation from business groups, self or wage employment, and increased access to financial services.
  • Develop a replicable and scalable skills development model for fragile environments.

Swisscontact provides short-term technical and financial support to deliver multiple project interventions and uses the Learning Group (LG) model to offer non-formal technical skills training. The Skills for Life project was executed within three main components:

  • The technical skills component offered training in different sectors within the labour market. These include carpentry, masonry, welding, catering, motorcycle repair, computer and phone repair, hairdressing, bakery, electrical wiring, plumbing, tailoring, barbery, poultry management, screen printing, beadwork, weaving, and soap making.
  • The social skills component spearheaded training focused on life skills, sexual and reproductive health, sexual and gender-based violence prevention, sports for development, work readiness and literacy and numeracy sessions.
  • The business support component delivered training on financial literacy, entrepreneurship, group savings and lending and business support through coaching and mentorship.

Project partners

Skills for Life was implemented in partnership with various stakeholders such as local community-based organisations, private sector businesses, non-governmental organisations, and government agencies. 

  • United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
  • Turkana County Government
  • Ministry of Education, Sports and Social Protection - Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET Directorate)
  • Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ)
  • African Entrepreneur Collective (AEC)
  • Faulu Productions
  • Oropoi Pastoralists Poverty Eradication Initiative (OPPEI)
  • Seeds of Peace Africa (SOPA)
  • Turkana Christian Development Mission (TCDM)
Project Journey and Key Achievements
The Promoting Life Skills and Livelihoods project commonly referred to as Skills for Life (S4L) was designed to strengthen the income-generating capabilities of youth (both refugee and from the host community) in Kakuma by enhancing their technical, financial, life and literacy skills to improve their chances of an enriched livelihood.


Initial vocational education and training, Migration
Hotel Isimbi is just the beginning
Janete fled from her home country Rwanda to Kenya in 2014. Despite having started off with little in the Kakuma refugee camp, she founded her own catering business thanks to training.
Initial vocational education and training
Raphael's ambitions with his poultry farm
Thanks to training in poultry rearing, Raphael acquired the necessary skills to make his chicken farm in Kakuma town a success. He is able to provide for his family and advises upcoming farmers who want to venture into poultry farming.
Initial vocational education and training, Migration
Hard work pays off – building a screen printing and graphic design business in Kakuma 
Bonface and Clement started their business called Clearface Printers after completing the Skills for Life training as screen printers 6 years ago.