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Closing Dadaab: How the Muslim Ban is affecting Somalis

A travel ban implemented on January 29th, 2017, by executive order, has effectively prohibited citizens of Syria, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from entering the U.S. on any visa for 90 days; in addition, new refugee applications have been suspended for 120 days.

For Somalis and other asylum seekers, the reality of being barred from the U.S. is harrowing. Within the Horn of Africa there are an approximate 892,794 registered Somali refugees, with 37% seeking refuge in Kenya according to data by the UNHCR.

Of those seeking refuge in Kenya, many have made Dadaab, the world's largest refugee camp their home. With a population larger than the City of Burnaby, Dadaab is set to close in May. Data from the UNHCR indicated that the 261,496 residents of Dadaab must be resettled since the camp has become rife with violence, disease, and has become a recruiting ground for Al-Shabab, an Islamist militia group.

Resettling those who live in Dadaab is an arduous process that has just become more difficult with the executive order put in place by the U.S. For refugees who have now lost the option to relocate to America, returning to Somalia means going back to a country that has been in civil war since 1991, as well as confronting an anticipated drought crisis, potential famine, and Al-Shabab attacks.

According to an article by the Guardian, “up to 26,000 [Somalis] who hoped to travel to the U.S. have been hit by the new [executive order]. The total includes those cleared for imminent travel, as well as those whose applications are under review.”

“[Refugees], who have all been rigorously screened by US and UN officials, have waited for between seven and 10 years for their resettlement to be approved and organised.
Some had already checked in for the flight to their new homes in the US when they were told they would not be allowed to board the plane. Others had travelled to Nairobi with children ready to leave. “These are people who have packed their bags, emptied their bank accounts, sold all their goods and said their goodbyes. Then they hear they are not going to the US after all,” said one aid worker in Nairobi.”  see more

While the fate of asylum seekers is very uncertain, PeaceGeeks stands committed to developing technology for peace, and is currently working with partners in order to facilitate refugees’ access to services with our Services Advisor App.

Feb 8, 2017
Category: Issue Briefs

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders - Kenya

Crisis Overview

In recent years the work of human rights organizations in Kenya has become simultaneously more necessary, and more threatening for those involved. Some of these threats are posed as a governmental risk of persecution or delisting of human rights organizations. Other threats are advanced from citizens, businesses, and individual politicians as a result of opposing opinions on issues of focus for human rights defenders (HRDs). Gender-discrimination, homophobia, and islamophobia, create inherent barriers to the work of HRDs. Patriarchy and intolerance facilitates acceptance of retrogressive cultural practices like female genital mutilation, early marriage, and widow inheritance. The vilification of HRDs has resulted in an increase in extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances and other human rights violations, with journalists, refugees, aid workers, with HRDs being among those most targeted.

What They Do

The National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders - Kenya (NCHRD-K) is a national organization that aims to strengthen the capacity of human rights defenders (HRDs) to work effectively in the country and to reduce their vulnerability to the risk of persecution, including by advocating for a favourable legal and policy environment in Kenya. Established in 2007, NCHRD-K is the only national organisation that works primarily for the protection of HRDs, representing over 1000 human rights organizations around the country. NCHRD-K provides legal, medical, psychological, relocation and security support to ensure their safety. NCHRD-K also supports HRDs through capacity building programmes such as training on monitoring, documenting and reporting on human rights violations.

Our Impact

PeaceGeeks supported NCHRD by strengthening their processes to electronically document violations against Kenyan human rights defenders. These interventions will improve efficiency, information security and accessibility for reporting. Building NCHRD-K’s digital security capacities was also of our utmost concern as this project focused on the handling of very sensitive information. We developed a secure online database for capturing all critical information related to human rights incidents. We provided them guidance on data cleaning practices in order to ensure quality of data. We conducted a digital security assessment with the NCHRD team to ensure a safe chain of custody of information was maintained. We continue to work with NCHRD-K to strengthen their ability to produce useful reporting from the data collected.

Deliverables Summary

Mobile app to document human rights violations, System to report on human rights violations.

PeaceGeeks Contributors

  • Renee Black, Executive Director and Founder
  • Magdi Rizkallah, Technology Projects Director
  • Kris Constable, Digital Security Expert

National Coalition of Human Rights Defenders - Kenya Contributors

  • Kamau Ngugi, Executive Director
  • Salome Nduta, Protection Officer
  • Gloria Madegwa, Case Officer

Collecting Statistics to Combat Gender Based Violence in Kenya

PeaceGeeks is working in conjunction with the incredible efforts of our local Vancouver volunteers to establish an innovative statistics-collections app for Kenyan NGO Nakuru Gender Based Violence Network (Nakuru GBV Network). With a focus on empowering grassroots organizations that help victims of sexual and gender-based violence, the Network works to reduce the level of violence in Nakuru County through community sensitization, educational campaigns, and fostering connections for others committed to ending such atrocities.

PeaceGeeks has previously worked with the Nakuru GBV Network by developing their website last January, giving them the platform to fully utilize their efforts and provide their local communities with the skillset and knowledge necessary to develop self-reliance and sustainability.

In addition to working relentlessly on the individual level to empower and support survivors in the community, the Nakuru GBV Network also aims to make substantial changes on the grand scale to reduce the level of gender-based violence that has seen a recent increased.

One major hurdle on the path to improving conditions however, is the severe lack of critical information and accurate data surrounding the current state of affairs with regards to gender-based violence in Kenya. PeaceGeeks is currently supporting Nakuru GBV Network to overcome this impediment through an innovative app that uses SMS to collect disaggregated statistics in rural areas. This technological innovation will give the Nakuru GBV Network a more accurate picture of what citizens are truly enduring in areas of Nakuru that potentially may not receive the attention needed from the government. Such developments mean an increase in awareness for the Network, and in turn for the greater community at large, strengthening an already leading Network’s available scope of influence.

Oct 16, 2015

Young Women Entrepreneurs Kenya

Crisis Overview

Women were the disproportionate victims of Kenya’s post-election violence in 2008. Sexual violence was acute, with an estimated 40,000 sexual and gender-based attacks. Women today struggle to heal from the violence during and after the conflict, particularly in Nakuru county where violence was most severe. Their struggle is both caused by and intensified by entrenched gender inequality in the region. Economically, women, who perform the vast majority of agricultural labour, are disproportionately poor and vulnerable. Women receive less education than men, have limited property rights, and are at extremely higher risk of obtaining HIV/AIDS.

What They Do

Founded in Nakuru county in response to Kenya’s 2008 violence, Young Women Entrepreneurs Kenya (YWEK) aims to restore the dignity of women by empowering them to become self-reliant and participate in the national development process. The organization’s goal is to empower women to be physically and mentally healthy, to be involved in leadership and civil society, and to become economically independent and secure. To do so, YWEK offers programs which provide young mothers, sex workers, and vulnerable youth with health services, skills training, networking opportunities, and entrepreneurial support.

Our Impact

PeaceGeeks helped YWEK launch their first website in February 2014, as well as train their team to manage the site over the long-term. We were also able to work with YWEK to develop a new logo and communications material, such as letterhead and business cards, that reflect their values. These helped develop their confidence as a presentable, professional organization. With their new logo and website, YWEK was able to effectively broadcast their message to the public, and help more people in their community.

The most crucial thing PeaceGeeks has done is to help us develop a website. Thanks to PeaceGeeks, we will not need an expert to update the contents of the web as they have made it easy by training us on how to update and upload content. 

Deliverables Summary
  • Website deployment
  • Hosting
  • Training
  • Newsletter
  • Social media training
  • Logo design
  • Branding guidelines
  • Business cards
  • Letterhead

PeaceGeeks Contributors

Renee Black - Project Manager - Lan Yan - Graphic Designer

Young Women Entrepreneurs Kenya Contributors

Bruno Owiti - Project Officer

Rural Women Peace Link

Crisis Overview

Kenya’s Rift Valley has been in conflict since the early 1960s. Situated in the North of Kenya, the agrarian region is populated by pastoralist and nomadic peoples. It stems from President Kenyatta’s redistribution of British lands in the area to the Kikuyu, his own native tribe, though the area is ethnically diverse. Bitter ethnic tension persists to this day, stemming from land claims and unequal access to resources. During violent ethnic clashes in January 2008, 220 people were killed and almost 170,000 forced to flee. In one particularly brutal incidence, a church was burned with 30 people inside, mostly children.

What They Do

Rural Women Peace Link is a network of grassroots, non-governmental women’s organization which seeks peaceful negotiation of conflict in Kenya’s Rift Valley, as well as parts of Western and Nyanza provinces. RWPL believe that the exclusion of women from decision making powers within the community leads to their extreme vulnerability in conflict situations. They therefore endeavor to empower women by promoting female participation in peacebuilding processes, by lobbying the government to recognize women’s rights as enshrined in the constitution, and by lobbying for a greater share of resources to be directed towards women’s needs, such as maternal and reproductive health.

Our Impact

PeaceGeeks successfully launched RWPL’s new website in 2014, featuring 160 pages of content. The organization reports that their website now receives steady traffic. It has helped strengthen their connections to partners and donors. And it has enabled them to broaden public awareness of their cause. The new website has also allowed RWPL to shed light on the plight of their rural partners, who are generally otherwise invisible to the international community.

The new website clearly outlines the work we do, how we do it, who we are and whom we do it with. This will go a long way for sustainability as RWPL does not have to source for external persons to do this work. The PeaceGeeks team took RWPL staff through the whole process. Thank you to the PeaceGeeks team your assistance has gone a long way!

Rhoda Litoroh, Executive Director
Deliverables Summary
  • Website deployment
  • Hosting
  • Training on website maintenance and design

PeaceGeeks Contributors

Renee Black - Project Manager - Chieh Tang - Content Migrator - Ron Boaz - Trainer

Rural Women Peace Link Contributors

Rhoda Litoroh - Executive Director - Daniel Wereh - Program Officer

Young Women Entrepreneurs Kenya

Bruno Winston Owiti is my name. I am a certified Public Accountant in Kenya, and one of the Programs Manager at Young Women Entrepreneurs Kenya (YWEK) where I have worked since its inception in 2009. YWEK is a non-profit organization that engages young Kenyan women, their dependants and social networks to address various socio-economic, political and health issues affecting the society. Such issues include, TB, Malaria, HIV/AIDS, Enterprise development, gender-based violence, leadership and governance. YWEK accomplishes this through conducting training, outreach, focused group discussions, informative and interactive forums, consultancy and research, table banking, small business formation and management, formal group formation and management.

Communication is essential in every sector of our lives. If you cannot communicate well what you do and have achieved overtime is like a blind person trying to figure out where he or she is. As YWEK since inception in 2009 to date, we have been grappling with how we could amplify the voices of the young mothers and youth headed households we serve. Getting more people to be in touch with what we do has been the major challenge. Laura Lee May, researcher from University of British Columbia introduced us to PeaceGeeks, who offered to help us overcome our twin challenge of amplifying the voices of the young women and youth headed household by undertaking to do several crucial things to help us become visible.

PeaceGeeks has helped us with the basic needs of every organization - creating a logo and brand to give It a professional look, developing letterhead and business cards, creating new email accounts and creating a website. Now, it is very easy for me to represent the organization since I can easily share my contacts with people via business cards and also write correspondence to other organizations without fear of being ridiculed or YWEK documents being tossed aside.

The most crucial thing PeaceGeeks has done is to help us develop a website for Young women Entrepreneurs Kenya. Soon everybody will know about YWEK. I ask myself what more can I ask for? Thanks to PeaceGeeks, we will not need an expert to update the contents of the web as they have made it easy by training me on how to update and upload content onto the web. I have since trained other key staff in YWEK on how its done.

Thanks for providing YWEK with the Website, renewing our domain, designing our business cards, logo and letterhead, designing our site, and providing training and professional advice on project impact communication. This would have cost us more than US Dollar 2000, which YWEK does not have.

Thanks most especially Renee and Lan for your efforts daily to put us on the global map.

By Bruno Owiti

Jul 9, 2014
Category: Testimonial
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