Legal Identity Study in Protracted Displacement Situations Job Vacancy in Kakuma Refugee camp and Kalobeyei Settlement in Focus - Norwegian Refugee Council

Contextual Background

Kenya’s asylum space hosts 561,836 registered refugees and asylum seekers in Kakuma and Dadaab Camps and in urban areas comprising of 496,983 (89%) refugees and 64,853 (11%) asylum-seekers. Kakuma Refugee Camp, which hosts a total population of 233,648 refugees and asylum seekers, (UNHCR, 2022) is one of the longest lasting humanitarian settlements in sub-Saharan Africa and one of the largest refugee camps in the world (Dr. Helen Guyatt, 2016). Located in north-western Kenya, it hosts refugees and asylum seekers mostly of South Sudanese descent and was established in 1992. As of 31st August 2022, the refugee and asylum-seeking population is mainly made up of people who had fled from South Sudan, Somalia, and Democratic Republic of Congo (UNHCR, 2022).

In the past few years, the human rights and development discourses have referred to the lack of “formal” legal identity as a primary obstacle to achieving human rights and development for a significant majority in developing countries. The assumption is that a person without legal identity cannot access rights and services like education, adequate housing, health, political rights or simply open a bank account or obtain a driving license. Practice in the Kenyan context points to evidence of hampered access to rights and services, without proof of a legal identity. For instance, the Makonde tribe whose origins are traced to Mozambique, remained stateless from their arrival in Kenya in the 1930’s, until they were issued with Kenyan Identity Cards and birth certificates in February 2017 (UNHCR 2017). They could not open bank accounts, acquire business permits, move freely or register with telecommunication companies. Legal identity documentation opened up an avenue for them to access rights provided under the Constitution (Apiyo 2015). Lack of access to rights and services (as evidenced in the example of the Makonde tribe before they were granted Kenyan citizenship), perpetuates exclusion and vulnerabilities. International policy makers have finally echoed this assertion and legal identity has been added to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. SDG 16 is about promoting peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. Legal identity appears in Sub-goal 16.9: “By 2030, provide legal identity for all, including birth registration”.

In March 2021 Government of Kenya (GoK) gave the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) a 14-day ultimatum to develop a plan to close refugee camps. This significantly impacted the overall operational environment in Dadaab and Kakuma. The Government cited security, environmental and economic burdens as the reason for this decision. UNHCR in response, proposed a roadmap towards finding durable solutions for the protracted situation (UNHCR, 2021) including: enhanced voluntary repatriation in safety and dignity; alternative stay arrangements for refugees from the East African Community (EAC); acceleration of issuance of National Identity Cards to approximately 11, 000 Kenyans who had previously double registered as refugees, and continuation of the vetting exercise for others in a similar circumstance; and resettlement to third countries for a small number of refugees unable to return home due to protection risks.

To effect the roadmap, these proposals would need to be implemented against a backdrop of the affected populations having/being provided with proof of legal identity. The Refugees Act, 2021, commenced operation on 21st February 2022. The Act provides that refugees shall be enabled to contribute to the economic and social development of Kenya by facilitating access to, and issuance of the required documentation at both levels of government”. The Act in principle, underscores the role of the Government in facilitating access to legal identity, and is envisaged to facilitate the GoK to create systems that will enable implementation of proposals brought forth in the roadmap.

For refugees in Kakuma, basic forms of documentation, like the refugee ID, birth, marriage and death certificates are often hard to acquire (Norwegian Refugee Council, 2022). Proving your identity and registering life events is critical to supporting refugees to secure their status, access services in displacement and in achieving durable solutions. Without legal and civil documentation refugees may also face additional barriers to work and other livelihood opportunities and movement outside of the camps. In registering vital events that take place in Kenya the main challenges that refugees in Kakuma face are undue technicalities at the tail end of Refugee Status Determination (RSD) processes, lack of information on procedures and access owing to the fact that the Civil Registration Services (CRS) are located in the County’s capital, hundreds of kilometers away from the camp. Movement for refugees outside of the camps is also limited due to Kenya’s encampment policy. Moreover, authorities responsible for issuing these documents are understood to be unable to meet the demand for the required services due to limited resources and weak capacity (Norwegian Refugee Council, 2022).

Children without birth certificates face challenges with accessing education. While parents have in the past not necessarily required a birth certificate to register their children in schools, the children were able to sit national exams and move up grade levels. In August 2022, the Ministry of Education (MoE) announced a revamped National Education Management Information System (NEMIS), which requires all students to be given a Unique Personal Identification (UPI) number to support increased tracking of students and resources.For Free Primary Education (FPE), Free Day Secondary Education (FDSE) and Special Needs Education (SNE) top–up capitation funds processes will require learners to have birth certificates in order to be eligible for capitation. The revamped NEMIS system will have a particular impact on refugee and host community children given the barriers to obtaining timely birth certificates.

Securing refugee status through refugee registration and status determination procedures has been reported to be a challenge in the Kakuma context in the last few years. The GoK is understood to have largely suspended registration of new arrivals, returnees and onward movers, leading to a growing number of unregistered refugees in the camps. As of August 2022, UNHCR reports that the numbers of unregistered persons profiled is 64,853. For those asylum seekers already registered, refugee status determination (RSD) procedures carried out by the GoK’s Department of Refugee Services (RAS) with support from UNHCR are also understood to have stalled and conducted on a case-by-case basis. For existing refugee’s renewals of important refugee, documentation such as Refugee ID cards (often called ‘Alien Cards’) is also reportedly challenging. This has led to many instances of hampered access to services. Refugees without refugee IDs must rely on those with IDs to access rights or services such as communication and financial services (bank and mobile money). The Sim Card Regulations of 2015 recently saw the Communication Authority of Kenya deregister mobile numbers that were not linked to a picture of the owner and their ID number (Anon., 2022), further deepening the dependence on the few refugees with IDs in order to access these essential services, and in effect potentially creating vulnerabilities and chances of exploitation. The President of Kenya (H.E William Ruto) recently noted a gaping revenue leakage due to non-registration of potential taxpayers and issued a pronouncement to register every citizen with an ID and provide them with personal identification Number, thereby expanding the tax base. It is not clear to what extent this directive will affect refugees.

NRC’s Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA) program seeks to assess the situation around our relevant global thematic areas of intervention. While ICLA has been in operation in Kakuma since 2016 it remains important to continually analyze the context to ensure needs-based responses through safe and inclusive programming. The purpose of the study is to support an in-depth understanding of the Kakuma context to review our response strategies and to use the assessment findings to coordinate and respond to gaps. The study is aimed at improving programming and advocacy efforts in support of this demographic of displaced persons in line with humanitarian principles and refugee’s laws and conventions

NRC's activities and presence

The Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is an independent, humanitarian nongovernment organization that provides assistance, protection and durable solutions to refugees, internally displaced persons and the communities that host them. NRC works in both new and protracted crises across 35 countries. NRC has been operational in Kakuma since 2012 and currently provides humanitarian assistance through Education, Livelihoods and Food Security (LFS) and Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance (ICLA) core competencies. NRC always endeavors to programme within humanitarian principles and to leave no one behind in the provision of humanitarian support. However, the plight of the refugees and asylum seekers

Objectives of the study

The objectives of the study are;

  • To understand/highlight the barriers and facilitators in acquisition of legal identity documentation/refugee IDs for refugees and asylum seekers in Kakuma and Kalobeyei.
  • To undertake a comparative study of in Kakuma/Kalobeyei and other similar contexts in relation to access to refugee IDs/cs and undocumented asylum seekers.
  • To highlight refugees/undocumented persons’ rights, entitlements, plight, and protection concerns in the Kakuma/Kalobeyei context.
  • To identify challenges and opportunities that will contribute to the ICLA Theory of Change on Legal Identity. To generate findings that inform and influence the GoK, operational partners and other stakeholders to respond deliberately to the documentation concerns of refugees.
  • To amplify the voices of refugees/in the camps-highlight their concerns and perceptions towards their status and the situation generally.
  • To analyze the legal and policy frameworks that affirm and safeguard the rights of refugees and asylum seekers; and
  • To develop key messages on access to refugee IDs in Kakuma camp and Kalobeyei settlement.

How will the research study be used?

The research study will be used by the GoK, UNHCR, NRC as well as other operational partners to highlight the plight, status and needs of the undocumented persons in Kakuma and Kalobeyei and to collectively design programmes that address these protection needs The study outputs will also be useful in the designing of an advocacy strategy for the recognition and protection of the ‘forgotten’ undocumented asylum seekers towards, possibly, opening up the asylum space for this population.


The study is titled “Legal Identity in Protracted Displacement Situations; Kakuma Refugee camp and Kalobeyei Settlement in Focus” and is funded by the Germany Federal Foreign Office (GFFO) and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (NMFA). The research study is expected to be completed in June 2023 from the date the contract is signed by NRC and the Consultant. NRC will conduct household surveys, focus groups and informant interviews while the Consultant will conduct desk review including literature review, data analysis, triangulation and development of a report.

Lines of inquiry

The research study will focus on the following lines of enquiry, albeit not exhaustive:

  • To what extent are operational partners (including the private sector) able to identify and assist refugees and asylum seekers who do not have refugee IDs in Kakuma and Kalobeyei
  • To what extent have the ongoing interventions by operational partners in Kakuma specifically considered those without refugee IDs?
  • What humanitarian assistance (and other assistance) is offered to those without refugee IDs? What is offered on a case-by-case basis and what is not offered at all?
  • What services are available to refugee with IDs and those without IDs
  • What services are not available to refugees without IDs?
  • What are the specific challenges faced by the undocumented populations/those without refugee IDs across various demographics that is women, men, youth, persons with disability, nationalities with prima facie refugee status etc.?
  • Have there been any advocacy efforts in support of this group of persons?
  • What is the government’s position on the status of refugees and asylum seekers without refugee IDs? Is there a possibility to speed up eligibility procedures?
  • What are the concerns and perspectives of the refugees and asylum seekers without refugee IDs?
  • Are there contexts that Kenya can learn from in handing the undocumented population?


The methodology will be a mixed-methods approach, mostly seeking qualitative outcomes. The data collection methodologies should use a participatory approach engaging all relevant stakeholders, UNHCR, DRS and other protection partners. The data has been collected by NRC and a consultant will only be engaged in analysis of the available data sets, triangulation, desk review including literature review. The following data is in the custody of NRC ICLA and shall be provided to the consultant after formalization of the engagement;

  • Household level surveys with refugees of different nationalities, taking into consideration gender and disability [as per the Inclusive Humanitarian Action (IHA) Policy].
  • Key Informant Interviews (e.g., with NRC, UNHCR, DRS, IOM, Relevant government departments, NGOs, private sector partners, key community members and representatives from the Local and Regional Authorities, to gather evidence.
  • Focus group discussions with target community groups including community leaders/elders, religious leaders, and specific demographic groups affected directly or indirectly.

The consultant is expected to undertake the following:

  • Desk review of background documents (project documentation, project monitoring data, progress reports, field assessment reports, available publications by external parties, internal assessment reports etc.). .

Deliverables and reporting deadlines

The analysis and triangulation of the data and desk review is envisaged to take a cumulative period of 30 days. The following deliverables should be submitted within the agreed timeframe.

Consultant’s obligations

  • Understanding of the research objectives in the ToR.
  • Schedule of activities and Identifiable milestones
  • Data protection commitment.
  • The report should be in the format indicated below, to be submitted to NRC Kenya Country office. It is preferable to illustrate the results by appropriate graphs, visuals, tables and/or a dashboard (editable i.e., not pictures) with an accompanied explanatory text. The report should consist of:

a) Executive Summary in bullets (max. 2 pages)

b) Introduction

c) Methodology, including sampling and limitations

d) Analysis and findings of the Research.

e) Address concerns, lessons learned and comments by the partners.

f) Experiences and quotes

g) Recommendations for adjustment in program set-up within the remaining implementation period and for future projects. Include an implementation strategy

for the recommendations h) Annexes:

  • Relevant maps and photographs of the evaluation areas where necessary
  • Bibliography of consulted secondary sources
  • Finalized data collection tools and analyzed tables and graphs (should be editable and not pictures)
  • List of interviewees with accompanying informed consent forms
  • PowerPoint presentation of preliminary findings

i) Learning event for project stakeholders, partners. The structure and activities of the learning and evaluation meeting(event) will be agreed with NRC Lessons learning event.


Deliverable 1: Conducting of interviews of applicant’s by 20th May 2023 -Draft inception meeting report and payment of 1st instalment

Deliverable 2: Analysis and presentation of initial findings and draft of the report*.*

Deliverable 3: Presentation and review of draft report to Country Office for analysis and feedback

Deliverable 4: Final Report and payment of 2nd instalment by 20th June 2023

How to apply

Application Deadline:

10th May 2023 at 1000 Hrs

Bids must include the following:

  • Proposal including outline of mapping framework and methodology, including comments on the TOR (Terms of Reference as per the excerpt above) , proposed period and work plan.
  • Proposed budget, including professional fees, travel costs, and administration costs (if any) which should be inclusive of all taxes
  • CVs of key consultant/s to undertake this study.

Along with CV interested candidates should submit.

  • A technical and Financial proposal explaining their comprehension of the ToR and how they would approach this assignment, summarizing the methodologies and approaches they plan to use, including a timeline.
  • Two samples of similar previous assignments.
  • Their availability
  • Company profile or CV (for individual consultants) including three references
  • Copies of legal registration documents - Registration cert, tax compliance, business permits.

Qualified candidates/firms should submit their completed bids in PDF format before or on 10th May 2023.

Due to high number of applications expected, only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

For enquiries, kindly contact