The 6th edition of the Foundation’s international seminar took place in Nairobi on 29 and 30 October. This first conference in English-speaking Africa is the result of a long collaborative work carried out by the Foundation with its partners: the International Centre for Humanitarian Affairs (ICHA) of the Kenyan Red Cross and the Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD).

More than 100 participants representing dozens of organizations (international and national NGOs, universities, UN agencies, state actors) involved in humanitarian action in Kenya and East Africa gathered to analyze and discuss the humanitarian transition in Kenya.

Kenya: a unique example of humanitarian transition

Despite having joined the category of middle-income countries, Kenya still faces a multitude of humanitarian needs on its territory. The objective of this conference was to analyse together the evolution of the causes of the crises and to work towards a transformation of the responses to be provided, based on solutions and concrete cases unique to Kenya. Abbas Gullet, secretary general of the Kenya Red Cross Society, said: “The organisation of this conference in Kenya could not have come at a better time. Kenya is one of the African countries where the impact of natural disasters has increased dramatically over the last three decades. This conference will provide a space for interaction, dialogue and mutual learning among practitioners, researchers and policy makers.

Analysing new humanitarian practices in Kenya

Among the priority themes are: dealing with the effects of disasters linked to climate hazards, urbanization of crises and responses, new practices and innovations, such as Forecast based Financing or the use of biometric technologies among refugee populations. Kenya still hosts Africa’s first refugee camp in Dadaab, in the east of the country, which currently houses 230,000 people. The issue of refugees was addressed in a cross-disciplinary manner during the discussions.

To close the exchanges, the floor was given to young researchers, doctoral students from Nairobi University and Moi University, interested in humanitarian issues. The four doctoral students summarized the two-day conference and presented their own vision of humanitarian transition in Kenya.

Strengthening collaborations between Anglophone and Francophone Africa

After 5 editions organized in French-speaking countries of Africa and the Middle East (Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Lebanon and Cameroon), this seminar in English-speaking Africa was an opportunity for the Foundation to build academic bridges between these two major regions of the African continent. Marie-Thérèse Mengue, professor of sociology at the Catholic University of West Africa (UCAC) in Cameroon, and Georges Djohy, researcher in anthropology at the University of Parakou in Benin and recipient of a fellowship from the Foundation, were thus able to put the Kenyan humanitarian situation into perspective with that of their respective countries. Thanks to the support of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie (AUF), the Foundation was able to carry out its mission of scientific collaboration between the Anglophone and Francophone worlds thanks to the simultaneous French-English translation of the seminar.

Initiating and developing scientific cooperation

Following the exchanges initiated during the conference, the Foundation intends to continue and deepen its academic collaborations with Kenya. As a first step, a call for applications for a postdoctoral fellowship on the use of cash in Kenya has been launched in partnership with ICHA. The call is currently open until 6 December (consult the call by clicking here). And secondly, with the publication of a book on humanitarian transition, for which the call for contributions will be launched soon.