Engaging mid-level officials to help refugees access healthcare

  • Kenya



Date program started:



  • Help urban refugees access healthcare by engaging with mid-level officials.


  • Increase urban refugees access to healthcare through Kenya’s national insurance scheme
  • Focus on mid-level officials within local bureaucracies, rather than focusing on fighting for rights at high-level governmental platforms

Targeted population:

  • Refugees without healthcare
  • Mid-level Kenyan government officials

Challenge addressed:

  • Refugees lack of access to affordable healthcare in Nairobi
  • Lack of engagement between refugee-focused organizations and mid-level government officials

Program description:

  • Refugees are politicized in Kenya—specifically those of Somali origin who have been popularly and politically linked to issues of terrorism, crime, and urban degradation
  • Overt calls for refugee rights can backfire and lead to greater restrictions being placed upon refugees
  • Nairobi is one of 47 county governments in Kenya under the 2010 Constitution and it has a wide array of governance and service delivery functions
  • Due to this urban protection will depend heavily on county-level policies and practices
  • This program found that the, “most effective reforms for urban-based people of concern are likely to be negotiated outside of formal legal processes
  • It found that working with mid-level officials within the local bureaucracy, or negotiating with local urban actors and communities, may be more beneficial for POC than overtly fighting for their rights at high-level governmental platforms
  • This programme focused on RefugePoint work in facilitating refugees’ access to Kenya’s national health insurance scheme
  • The organization conducted a review of insurance legislation and determined that refugees were legally entitled to insurance
  • They worked behind the scenes with a mid-level official to complete the necessary paperwork to register hundreds of refugees at a minimal cost
  • Reluctance on the part of the official was overcome by focusing on their need to meet targets
  • They are required to ensure a certain number of new people are enrolled for health insurance and registering refugees assists this objective
  • This program shows that appeals to local authorities’ interests in program implementation, revenue generation, and business formation may provide opportunities for advocates to help align government action with protection interests
  • This avoided the creation of a parallel system of service delivery and supports RefugePoints other medical outreach work

Impact on targeted population:

  • This project assisted local officials meet their performance targets of ensuring that a specified number of new people enrolled in the national insurance scheme

Impact on host community:

  • This project assisted local officials meet their performance targets of ensuring that a specified number of new people enrolled in the national insurance scheme

Conditions required:

  • A national scheme that is legally available to both refugees and citizens.


Urban Institute – ‘Becoming Urban Humanitarians: Engaging Local Government to Protect Displaced People’

Our impact

  • 3700

    refugees have better access to education and livelihood opportunities

  • 40

    countries in which our partner NGOs are implementing solutions

  • 490

    refugee children benefit from mathematics, english, art and sports classes

  • 700

    women can now support their families

  • 650

    refugees have access to critical healthcare and safety information

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