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Guterura (Up-lift) Scheme

The Guterura scheme is a multidimensional project that is benchmarked on using adult education as a conduit to refugees improved livelihood.

Photo of Wanjala Wafula
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What problem does the idea help to solve and how does your solution work? (2,000 characters maximum)

Kenya hosts thousands of refugees from neighbouring countries in both Daadab and Kakuma refugees’ camps and in major urban centres. Most of these refugees never had access to an education – or were forced by wars and famines to abandon their studies. In the urban centres these refugees reside in informal settlements as most do not have UNHCR certification as refugees in Kenya. While the urban setting provide economic opportunities for refugees involved in small business, the majority remain impoverished with incomes of only about 35 percent of those in the host communities, who are themselves some of the poorest and most marginalized in the country. A large number especially women remain marginalized as they lack the capacity to engage in employment or economic activities due to language barriers, illiteracy and vulnerabilities. A vast majority of the refugees emanate from countries where English is not the official language thus it’s troubling for them to commune, interrelate, and join the accessible official education in Kenya.

Geography of focus (500 characters)

The project will be implemented in Kitengela, Kajiado county and Eastleigh in Nairobi county. These counties are found in Kenya, East Africa region. We target the urban refugee communities in these towns as they live in deplorable conditions in informal settlements due to marginalization, poverty and lack of resources.

Building Bridges: What bridge does your idea build between people on the move and neighbors towards a shared future of stability and promise? (500 characters)

The project anchors its outcomes on refugees on the program being able to use language skills and information technology to access the basic services in Kenya, interact with the host communities, get official registration as refugees, find work placements, reconnect them to their prior expertise, knowledge or passions, trace family and friends, rebuild their lives, as well as the lives of others

What human need is your idea solving for? (1,000 characters)

The project is premised on harnessing the refugees own creativity and ideas to better their lives. We purpose to transition to improved self sustenance, integration, skills development, linkages and access to work. Strategies • ICT literacy program-Set-up a resource centre equipped with ICT equipment. Provide basic ICT training programs • Economic independence initiative –develop English Language literacy skills, Job opportunity linkages, enterprise development • Address power relations-Target and work with refugee/host community men, boys and communities toward the elimination of all forms of violence toward women and girls. • Provide legal assistance in partnership with partners and networks. We will also work with the county governments to fast track access to justice and services • Media- will work with practitioners and media house owners. Activities to include training, radio broadcast content features.

What will be different within the community of focus as a result of implementing your idea? (1,000 characters)

We envisage: i) Increase in number of refugees by 35% who have improved ICT literacy and competence this witnessed through increase in online freelancing activities that enable them to support themselves and also operating cyber cafes. ii) 30% increase in self-reliance among refugees hence the ability to meet essential needs and enjoy social and economic rights. iii) The acquired communication skills will enable improved relations with host communities and also increase in the refugees’ employment chances and self-employment. iv) Over-dependence on UNHCR assistance to self-dependence will be reduced. v) The ability of access to information has been improved 40%, thus, allowing refugees to orient themselves, discover what they need and avoid exploitation. vi) 35% Increase in respect of the human rights of refugees by the host communities and also within the refugee community especially substantial reduction in police brutality and general exploitation

What is the inspiration behind your idea? (1,000 characters)

The project is in response to the reality that many urban refugees and asylum seekers in Kenya live in cities and towns where they are duty-bound to self support yet a bulk of them has literacy and language challenges that inhibit them from the competitive market structures in Kenya. Therefore, adult education was considered as a conduit to help refugees become educated, exposed, self-sustaining and contributing member of the society. In addition, for majority of women the extended family networks from which they normally drew much of the strength and support for their onerous roles in traditional society have completely been lost; instead women have become isolated, dependent upon themselves, solely responsible for children in the absence of fathers, subject to exploitation, and, in many cases, also to emotional and physical/sexual abuse. This has promoted the need to create awareness on the rights of women and refugees in general in the target community.

Describe the dynamics of the community in which the idea is to be implemented. (1,000 characters)

Refugees from the camp move to urban areas to find community, safety and economic independence. Refugees in urban centres in Eastleigh and Kitengela towns respectively are often highly mobile and reluctant to come forward for support due to fears that they could be deported or sent to refugee camps. Many have few places to turn to meet their basic needs given their illegal status in the country, language barriers, illiteracy, stigma/discrimination against them and the trauma associated with the circumstances that rendered them refugees. They are thus confronted with limited access to formal employment, basic services and poverty. They are under continuous security agents stalking, arrest and prosecution. In the urban areas, refugee women and girls have to fend for their families given the limited number of organizations and individuals readily available to provide assistance. IRC affirms that 80% of refugee women and girls engage in chores that expose them to violence especially rape.

How does your idea leverage and empower community strengths and assets to help create an environment for success? (1,000 characters)

Community engagement The project depends on wide support from the host community to avoid them feeling left out in the education opportunity provided to the refugees. Thus the program provides job opportunity to the host communities as volunteers in the literacy program and the ICT components of the project. The project beneficiaries who are computer literate work as instructors in the ICT program thus promoting the skills available in the community.

What other partners or stakeholders will work alongside you in implementing the idea, if any? (1,000 characters)

Partner: Give back to Berlin an organization with refugees world wide. Stakeholders: County government, UNHCR, community groups in the refugee setting

What part of the displacement journey is your solution addressing

  • Arriving and settling at a destination community

Tell us how you'd describe the type of innovation you are proposing

  • Service: A new or enhanced service that creates value for end beneficiaries

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Pilot: We have started to implement the idea as a whole with a first set of real users. The feasibility of an innovation is tested in a small-scale and real world application (i.e. 3-15% of the target population)

Group or Organization Name

Coexist Initiative

Tell us more about your group or organization [or lived experience as a displaced person?] (1000 characters)

Coexist initiative is a pioneer in promoting gender justice, human rights, education and conflict mitigation by targeting men and boys as its key clusters. For more than 15 years Coexist has not only won international awards, such as the latest in 2018, Tolerance Prize-UNESCO Madanjeet Singh on Promotion of Non-violence and Tolerance Prize for our work in refugee camps but also has been selected as one of the most effective organization’s working to end violence against women and girls by addressing negative socialization processes, negative cultural practices, stereotypes, and masculinities. We have worked in education sector in promoting girls education in Daadab refugee camp that won Intercultural Innovation Award 2016 Global Inter-Cultural Innovation Award and recognized as a best practice by UNHCR

Website URL:

Type of submitter

  • We are a registered Non-Profit Organization

Organization Headquarters: Country


Organization Headquarters: City / State



Join the conversation:

Photo of Gastone Mwiine

Thanks Wanjala Wafula. Welldone for the good work you are doing in my neighbouring country. Am from Uganda and we also face a serious refugee crisis. My question however is, how do you plan to reach out to those who cannot come to the community centre? Do you have a plan of catoring for Persons with Specific Needs? If so, how do you plan to include them in the programme?
In your idea, you hinted on language barrier as one of cross cutting issues, what is your plan of breaking that barrier?
Otherwise, you are doing a commendable work and will stay engaged to see how far you can go. In the meantime, check through my idea and give me your feedback. Am also looking at the possibility of having like minded people to join me in fulfilling vision in Uganda.

Photo of Wanjala Wafula

Hello Gastone, Thank you for your comment. Due to the limited resources , in this first year of the project we will work with learners enrolled in the resource centre but as the program continues we will integrate the program into existing community programs that focuses on refugees. For the people with Special needs for now we do not have the capacity to cater for their needs. The project addresses the language barrier by use of Kiswahili as the primary language as the learners enrolled in the program are able to understand and communicate through it and English as the secondary language.

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