Socioeconomic Survey of Urban Refugees in Kenya, 2021
Socio-Economic/Monitoring Survey [hh/sems]
Kenya hosts over half a million refugees, who, along with their hosts in urban and camp areas, face difficult living conditions and limited socioeconomic opportunities. Most refugees in Kenya live in camps located in the impoverished counties of Turkana (40 percent) and Garissa (44 percent), while 16 percent inhabit urban areas—mainly in Nairobi but also in Mombasa and Nakuru.
Refugees in Kenya are not systematically included in national surveys, creating a lack of comparable socioeconomic data on camp-based and urban refugees, and their hosts. As the third of a series of surveys focusing on closing this gap, this Socioeconomic Survey of Urban Refugees's aim is to understand the socioeconomic needs of urban refugees in Kenya, especially in the face of ongoing conflicts, environmental
hazards, and others shocks, as well as the recent government announcement to close Kenya’s refugee camps, which highlights the potential move of refugees from camps into urban settings
The SESs are representative of urban refugees and camp-based refugees in Turkana County. For the Kalobeyei 2018 and Urban 2020–21 SESs, households were randomly selected from the UNHCR registration database (proGres), while a complete list of dwellings,
obtained from UNHCR’s dwelling mapping exercise, was used to draw the sample for the Kakuma 2019 SES. The Kalobeyei SES and Kakuma SES were done via Computer-Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI). Due to COVID-19 social distancing measures, the Urban SES
was collected via Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). The Kalobeyei SES covers 6,004 households; the Kakuma SES covers 2,127 households; and the Urban SES covers 2,438 households in Nairobi, Nakuru, and Mombasa.
Questionnaires are aligned with national household survey instruments, while additional modules are added to explore refugee-specific dynamics. The SES includes modules on demographics, household characteristics, assets, employment, education, consumption, and expenditure, which are aligned with the Kenya Integrated Household Budget Survey (KIHBS) 2015–16 and the recent Kenya Continuous Household Survey (KCHS) 2019.
Additional modules on access to services, vulnerabilities, social cohesion, mechanisms for coping with lack of food, displacement trajectories, and durable solutions are administered to capture refugee-specific challenges.
Kind of Data
Sample survey data [ssd]
Unit of Analysis
Households and individuals
v2.1: Edited, cleaned and anonymised data
Household: Demographics, livelihoods, land and farming, food security, housing, access to services (health, water, sanitation, education), participation in public events, safety and security, conflict resolution, social cohesion and inter-group relations, perception about displaced population, intentions.
Individuals: Demographics, education, livelihoods, personal documentation.
Livelihood and Social cohesion
Nairobi, Mombasa, Nakuru
All refugees registered with UNHCR via ProGres, verified via the Verification Exercise conducted in 2021
Producers and sponsors
The World Bank
– The survey was conducted using the UNHCR proGres data as the sampling frame. Due to the COVID-19 lockdown, the survey data was collected via telephone. Hence, the survey is representative of households with active phone numbers registered by UNHCR in urban Kenya – Nairobi, Mombasa and Nakuru. A sample size of 2,500 was needed to ensure a margin of error of less than 5 percent at a confidence level of 95 percent for groups represented by at least 50 percent of the population.
The sample for the urban SES is designed to estimate socioeconomic indicators, such as food insecurity, for groups whose share represents at least 50 percent of the population. Considering the total urban refugee population as of August 2020 and the proportions of main countries of origin, as well as a 10 percent nonresponse rate, the target sample size is 2,500 households in total, with 1,250 in Nairobi, 700 in Nakuru, and 550 in Mombasa. A total of 2,438 households were reached: 1,300 in Nairobi, 409 in Nakuru, and 729 in Mombasa.
The units in ProGres list are UNHCR proGres families, which are different from households as defined in standard household surveys. Upon registration, UNHCR groups individuals into ‘proGres’ families which do not necessarily meet the criteria to be considered a household. A proGres family is usually comprised by no more than one household. In turn, a household can be integrated by one or more proGres families.
Households were selected as the unit of observation to ensure comparability with national household surveys. Households are a set of related or unrelated people (either sharing the same dwelling or not) who pool ration cards and regularly cook and eat together. As proGres families were sampled, the identification of households was done by an introductory section that confirms that each member of the selected proGres family is a member of the household and whether there are other members in the households that belong to other ProGres families. Thus, the introductory section documents the number of proGres families present in the household under observation.
Before selecting the survey strata, the team attempted to better understand the type of bias observed by focusing on refugees with access to phones. From the proGres data, phone penetration in urban areas is high (Nairobi and Mombasa: 93 percent, Nakuru: 95 percent). To understand the type of bias observed by focusing on refugees with access to phone, we looked at socio-economic outcomes for proGres family refugees with access to a phone number and those without
The sampling weights were constructed using the outline in Himelein (2014): i) as the first step, the base weight was computed, equal to 1 for all households. Ii) In the second step, we derive the attrition-adjusted weights for all households by modeling a linear logistic model at the household level. Iii) In the third step, the weights of the previous step are trimmed to correct outlier weights. Iv) As part of post-stratification, weights are scaled to the number of households in each location.
Dates of Data Collection
Data Collection Mode
Computer Assisted Telephone Interview [cati]
Data Collection Notes
The mode of data collection limits comparability between refugee and host communities. The Urban SES was conducted through CATI, whereas the KCHS was done through computer-assisted personal interviews. Phone surveys can limit the representativeness of the sample and the external validity of their estimates due to telephone coverage, low participation, and response rates.44 These limitations are a source of bias, which can be reduced by adjusting the survey weights using information from the population data. While the sampling weights for the SES control to some extent for differences in household profiles by phone ownership (households with phone vs. all households), they do not address the differences that might arise between the two modes of data collection. In addition, the training of enumerators and fieldwork might differ between phone surveys and face-to-face surveys.
Hence, comparisons between refugees and hosts are limited. Poverty comparisons are also limited. Since collecting consumption data to estimate poverty can result in long interview times and reduced quality of phone survey data, the Urban SES did not include a consumption module. Therefore, poverty rates are not provided, although they are available through the KCHS for host communities.
The World Bank
UNHCR, The World Bank (2020). Kenya: Socioeconomic Survey of Urban Refugees in Kenya, 2021. Accessed from: https://microdata.unhcr.org