Kenya IDP Figures Analysis

IDMC estimates that there were 309,200 internally displaced people (IDPs) in Kenya as of 24 April 2015.


This is the most recent informed estimate available for the country (OCHA, 11 February 2015). In the absence of any updates, OCHA has continued to refer to this figure since 2012. The figure includes a protracted yet unverified number (about 250,000) of people internally displaced by ethnic, political and land-related violence since the 1990s (OCHA, September 2013) and an additional approximately 50,000 registered IDPs who had fled as a result of the 2007/8 post-election violence (PEV) and who, at the time, had not been resettled yet. The estimate therefore does not include people forced to leave from 2008 onwards, although new displacements have continued to take place. Some 50,000 people were reported to be newly displaced in 2011, 112,000 in 2012 (OCHA, 21 November 2012), 55,000 in 2013 (OCHA, January 2014) and more than 220,000 in 2014 (OCHA, 4 December 2014) - mostly due to inter-communal violence.

Although over the years many of the 309,200 IDPs have settled either locally, or elsewhere in the country, or through return, no official assessment of their numbers and remaining protection needs was carried out. Most of those newly displaced in recent years are believed to have returned but their situation has rarely been assessed. According to humanitarian reports, at least 60,000 of the 220,000 newly displaced in 2014 were still living in camps in Mandera County as of December 2014.

The estimate also excludes people displaced by disasters and development projects, and the so called “integrated” IDPs – i.e. people that following the 2007/8 election-related violence fled to urban or peri-urban areas and found shelter with host communities or in rented accommodation. The latter constitute an estimated 300,000 out of the over 650,000 that fled at that time. The remaining 350,000 IDPs took refuge in camps. A registration exercise was undertaken in 2007/8 for the PEV IDPs, but the methodology applied was often inaccurate, inefficient and not disaggregated, and thus as a result the national database was restricted to the 6,800 households identified and formally recognised by the Ministry of State for Special Programmes, the ministry responsible for IDP issues at the time (OHCHR, February 2012). The results of a verification exercise are yet to be released.

Data gathering on internal displacement in Kenya generally focuses on instances of fresh displacement caused by violence or rapid-onset disasters such as floods, usually carried out by the first responders to a crisis such as the Kenya Red Cross Society. However, there is little quantitative and qualitative data on displacement dynamics after the IDPs’ initial flight.

No comprehensive and up-to-date national data on displacement is available for Kenya, as the country has no centralised IDP-related data collection system and the government has never carried out an exercise to profile their numbers and locations throughout the country. The data of the National Bureau of Statistics is not disaggregated by any criteria that might be used to identify IDPs or capture their needs. Local authorities do not systematically document or analyse population movements either.

Improving the availability of comprehensive data on IDPs disaggregated by age, gender and location (including those in urban settings) is paramount. In 2012, Chaloka Beyani, the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, urged the Government to develop accurate, comprehensive and disaggregated data-collection and database/registration systems inclusive of all categories of IDPs, and to undertake at the earliest opportunity a comprehensive data-collection exercise with a view to considering how best to identify, assess and respond to IDPs’ assistance, protection and durable-solution needs, with particular attention to vulnerable groups (OHCHR, February 2012). Similarly, in its final report in 2013 the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission of Kenya (TJRC) – the body set up with international assistance to strengthen the National Accord which ended the 2007-2008 political crisis – recommended the audit and registration of all 2007/8 IDPs not benefitting from Government assistance, with a particular focus on integrated IDPs (TJRC, May 2013).  Neither sets of recommendations have been acted upon.

The 2012 Prevention, Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced persons and Affected Communities Act, Art.13(d), states that its implementation committee - the National Consultative Coordination Committee - is responsible for “ensuring the registration of all internally displaced persons in order to maintain a national database of such persons which registration shall: (i) commence and conclude within 30 days of the occurrence of internal displacement; (ii) be declared by the Cabinet Secretary through the issuance of a Gazette notice; (iii) be only for reason of ascertaining the identification, profile, conditions and numbers of internally displaced persons for the sole purpose of protection and assistance in accordance with the Art. 3(4) of the Great Lakes Protocol on Assistance and Protection of IDPs”. The NCCC became functional in January 2015.

IDMC uses only the most credible accurate information available. Notwithstanding the caveats and limitations of the source information described above, IDMC believes this to be the best data and is grateful to the partners for sharing it.