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SEI working paper

Vulnerability to displacement: the case of Kihoto, Kenya

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SEI working paper

Vulnerability to displacement: the case of Kihoto, Kenya

This working paper focuses on the informal settlement of Kihoto, Kenya. The authors provide an overview of the socio-economic impacts and displacement outcomes relating to the water level rise of Lake Naivasha, including reflections regarding the underpinning vulnerabilities that may increase the risk of people to disaster displacement. They also provide suggestions toward improving protection of communities vulnerable to disasters and climate change in general.

Janne Parviainen, Mario Cárdenas, Cynthia Sitati, Carol Mungo, Sharon Anyango Onyango, Lawrence Nzuve

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Citation

Parviainen, J., Cárdenas, M., Sitati, C., Mungo, C., Onyango, S. A., & Nzuve, L. M. (2024). Vulnerability to displacement: the case of Kihoto, Kenya. SEI working paper. Stockholm Environment Institute. https://doi.org/10.51414/sei2024.024

The researchers’ goal was to examine what factors make people vulnerable to disaster displacement in urban and informal settings, how disaster displacement exacerbates existing vulnerabilities and creates new ones, and how urban actors can better prepare for and respond to disaster displacement, given past experiences with flooding in the settlement. They conducted household and business surveys and participatory flood impact mapping in Kihoto, an informal settlement of located on shoreline between Lake Naivasha and the town of Naivasha.

They provide an overview of the socio-economic impacts and displacement outcomes relating to the water level rise of Lake Naivasha, including reflections regarding the underpinning vulnerabilities that may increase the risk of people to disaster displacement. They also provide suggestions toward improving protection of communities vulnerable to disasters and climate change in general, with a focus on the flood event of 2020, among people affected by displacement, three years later.

Continuing problems include the pervasive loss of livelihoods, housing and access to essential sanitary facilities, such as water and medical care. The delayed economic recovery and the absence of official help compound underlying and pre-existing vulnerabilities. From their surveys, the authors found the following: the combined effects of floods, displacement and the COVID-19 pandemic severely damaged many people’s incomes and eroded their long-term resilience, including through loss of income and savings due to unemployment, increased costs, loss of business or housing, and loss of local savings schemes. In particular, the flooding had severe impacts to horticulture and agriculture (primary employers) and businesses that were already struggling due to the pandemic. Women between the ages of 18 and 35 reported the greatest loss of livelihoods and that they were unable to find work after the disaster.

Further, social support networks were often eroded due to separation caused by displacement and due to instability caused by the events, although they were also found to provide support in the absence of formal support mechanisms for the community. Vulnerability to displacement is further increased by limited official capacity to handle disaster response and recovery in informal settlements and by limited access to basic services (such as sanitation, safe water and healthcare), which both contribute to worsened disaster risks and to slower recovery.

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SEI working paper / PDF / 2 MB

SEI authors

Janne Parviainen
Janne Parviainen

Research Associate

SEI Oxford

Mario Cárdenas

Research Associate

SEI Latin America

Cynthia Sitati
Cynthia Sitati

SEI Africa

Lawrence Nzuve

Communications Coordinator

Communications

SEI Africa

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