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.
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:
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:
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.