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The town has hosted the Kakuma Refugee Camp since 1992. This camp currently serves over 138,000 men, women and children who have fled wars and violence in neighboring countries. The majority of refugees are from South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia. The camp is also host to refugees are from Ethiopia, D.R. Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Eritrea and Uganda.
Living in Kakuma as a refugee is a very difficult experience. Dust storms frequently pass through the area. Malnutrition, communicable disease outbreaks, and malaria are all ongoing problems, while donor support has faltered due to conflicts in other parts of the world. Many of the refugees hope to leave Kakuma for resettlement in another country such as the USA. For example, the "Lost Boys of Sudan" were a special group who were resettled from the camp to the U.S. in recent years.
Kakuma Refugee Camp was the location of a large project from 1995 to 2002 sponsored by Solar Cookers International through which thousands of families began using solar panel cookers to cook their daily meals. Many families had been trading some of their meager food rations for firewood to use to cook what little food they had left. The project was organized such that a group of refugee women were trained to be trainers. These women would then be paid to hold regular classes to teach other women to solar cook and to provide them with a cooker. The cookers were made locally in Nairobi for US$2.00 each.
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