School of Population Health

Investigating health needs of vulnerable people living in internally displaced person's (IDP) camps in Nakuru, Kenya

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The 2007 presidential elections in Kenya were followed by significant ethnic violence.  Tribes were forced out of their homes, towns and businesses and around 600,000 people across Kenya became displaced with many fleeing to Nakuru and living in internally displaced person’s (IDP) camps. The people residing in the IDP camps are very vulnerable to numerous public health problems related to limited resources, poor sanitation, severe overcrowding, transitory populations and extremely poor nutritional status. Kenya also has one of the world’s worst HIV and AIDS epidemics. Women in the IDP Camps are disproportionally affected by HIV and many are at higher risk for infection due to sexual violence. 

The aim is to apply knowledge learnt from studies of the public health needs of those living in the camps in Kenya to advocate with officials for the establishment of a mobile preventive health clinic run by the local public health officers. This research is guided by the United Nations Millennium Development Goals which “set timebound targets, by which progress in reducing income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter and exclusion - while promoting gender equality, health, education and environmental sustainability - can be measured. They also embody basic human rights - the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter and security.”  Robyn Richmond has led two delegations to Kenya during 2012 and 2013. The UNSW Research team consists of academic colleagues, Prof Heather Worth and Dr Holly Seale as well as master of public health students and medical students.

Study 1: Pipeline IDP Camp

During Professor Robyn Richmond’s first trip to Kenya in mid 2012, 132 women living in the Pipeline IDP camp in Nakuru were interviewed on their specific health issues, such as reproductive health status, nutritional status, lifestyle factors, female genital circumcision, birth and neonatal mortality, antenatal care, bednet use, water and sanitation issues. The research was supported by the IDP Camp Chief, the local hospital, the health clinic and the Member of the Office of the President for Nakuru District in the Rift Valley.  The research team employed camp residents as translators during the course of the study.

There were around 6,500 people who live In the Pipeline IDP Camp. The study found that the living conditions were extremely poor, overcrowded and unsafe.  Acces to health services was limited. Access to sanitation and potable water was well below the Kenyan average. Few owned a bed net to protect against mosquitoes and developing malaria. Professor Ngugi, from the School of Public Health at the University of Nairobi, ran workshops for the women in the camp on reducing the prevalence of HIV by condom use. Please see page 6 of the SPHCM newsletter: The Globe, Iss 14, Dec 2012

Study 2: Shalom IDP Camp

In late June 2013, the Kenya Research Team visited Kenya again, this time to the Shalom City IDP Camp in Rongai in the Rift Valley, Kenya. The Shalom IDP camp is home to 444 families displaced as a result of the 2007 post-election violence. Five years on, many IDP residents are still trying to re-establish their lives and provide a better future for their children.

The research focussed on collecting data on nutrition, food security and cardiovascular risk factors among the men, and reproductive health and antenatal care among the women. The data were collected using surveys, physical measures and in-depth interviews. Talks were again provided by Professor Elizabeth on prevention of HIV and the importance of safe sex and condom use. Please see page 6-7 of the SPHCM newsletter: The Globe, Iss 16, Nov 2013

In 2013, the Principal of Springs High School, Mr Duncan Mwangi, generously donated the use of two of his classrooms for the research interviews. Springs High School was established in 2013 for the young people of the IDP camp in Rongai and is prized in the community for having quality teaching. During the visit, the significant need for a school library became apparent. After returning from the 2013 research trip, the UNSW team began sourcing books to establish the Springs High School Library for the school’s students. To date, funds have been provided for shelving, and nearly 2000 books have been sent including English literature and science textbooks. Please see page 5 of the SPHCM newsletter: The Globe, Iss 20, Aug 2015

Project Members
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Professor of Public Health
Ph (612) 9065 5091
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Honorary Professor
Ph (612) 9385 8658
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Associate Professor
Ph +61 2 9385 3129
Project Collaborators: External

Professor Elizabeth Ngugi
University of Nairobi