Meet Kasanga from the Kakuma Refugee Camp


Meet Mr. Kasanga Alexandre, a refugee from Congo who lives with his family in Kakuma refugee camp. Kakuma is situated in a semi-arid region of Kenya and is home to almost 150,000 people who have escaped persecution in neighbouring countries such as Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Ethiopia.

Refugee status is supposed to be temporary, however due to the continuing conflict in this community’s countries of origin, Kakuma is the only home many of those living there can remember.

Kasanga fled to Kenya with his wife and 3 children in 2016. Kasanga has hopes and aspirations of a better future for his three children Zamarade Chibalonza 19, Kasanga Riziki 18 and Kasanga Henry, 16, all of whom attend vocational training courses not far from the camp. Kasanga has also found employment at the camp as a solar agent and is doing really well! Unfortunately though, he cannot be employed permanently as laws of Kenya prohibit the employment of refugees, and as a refugee Alexandre cannot easily get a work permit.

Like many living in Kakuma he would like to move back to his home country one day but not with the current turbulent situation. Violent conflict still continues in the eastern DRC, and 1.7 million people had to flee their homes in 2017 alone. To see a stable government in his home country is one of his greatest wishes.

As you arrive at the camp you will be greeted firstly by the stifling heat and then the street traders and noise of motorcycles. When Kasanga is at home and not working, he watches children playing football in clearings in the compound and women strolling on dusty paths with five litre water jerry cans on their heads. Observing such ordinary scenes, sometimes it is hard to believe that this is a refugee camp and not just an ordinary village on the outskirts of a city.

Mr. Alexandre is a proud and happy owner of a solar home system. In fact, he was one of the first people at the camp to purchase one. Through funding from Energising Development (EnDev), SNV is currently implementing a market based energy access intervention for refugees and host communities in Kakuma, Turkana County, Kenya.

Since the launch of the project, 754 solar systems/lanterns have been sold reaching a total of 754 households (approximately 4,600 people) and 500 clean cookstoves. Thanks to the solar home system which the Alexandre family bought from Azuri technologies, all of Kasanga’s children can now study at home and complete their homework in the evening. Azuri is one of SNV’s partners in this energy access project.

“Before I bought this Azuri solar home system my family had to make do with a kerosene lantern which we all shared. It was difficult for my children to study at home.”

In an effort to provide more lighting for his family, Mr Alexandre bought different solar components including a motorbike battery, a cheap solar panel, a car charger and cheap solar bulbs from China. The solar light would provide light for only 2-3 hours in the evening, and the motorbike battery lasted for only 6 months, and then it needed to be replaced. These different items turned out to be too costly for Mr Alexandre as a refugee with little income. He has since bought his current system for which he has only paid a deposit of KES 1,300 (12,60 USD).

“I now have light in all of my 3 rooms, and my wife and children have light in the kitchen which means in total we have 4 lights. In addition, I can now charge my phone from home, I can follow the news on my radio and I still have a torch if I need to move around the camp at night.” - Kasanga