The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has launched a two year project aimed at preventing human trafficking of climate change affected communities in Kenya. The initiative is expected to reduce the prevalence of human trafficking by addressing vulnerabilities caused by climate change induced displacement in Garissa and Marsabit Counties.

Kenya is facing one of the severest droughts in decades with nearly 4.2 million people currently facing severe hunger. Climate change induced disasters and other environmental hazards are decimating livestock, destroying farming land and community infrastructure, and devastating people’s livelihoods. Millions are at risk of displacement.

“Forced migration and displacement due to climate change expose vulnerable populations, in particular women, girls and children to TiP violations and other forms of abuses,” said Dimanche Sharon, IOM Kenya Chief of Mission. “Victims of trafficking (VoTs) from climate change affected locations often remain unnoticed due to lack of mechanisms to identify and respond to their needs as well as limited sensitization of communities on TiP.”

“The impact of weather-related events on economic activities have led to high levels of poverty. This has increased vulnerabilities of women and children to human trafficking, child labour, and early marriages,” said, Florence Bore, the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Labour and Social Protection.

IOM Kenya has received USD2.3 million (Ksh. 289 million) from the U.S. Department of State Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons. The funds will go towards addressing human trafficking in Kenya brought on by vulnerabilities and displacement exacerbated by climate change. IOM will employ a variety of livelihood support models to build economic resilience in communities facing economic insecurity due to climate change. Additionally, IOM will work to create awareness of human trafficking among the specific communities.

“The U.S. Government recognizes the critical link between climate change and human trafficking. We are proud to support this important project that will create a model for preventing human trafficking in communities impacted by climate change while making a real difference in the lives of vulnerable people,” said Ambassador Meg Whitman.

The project will be implemented in close collaboration with the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Counter Trafficking in Person (CTiP), local NGOs and researchers from the University of Massachusetts Lowell and New York University.

IOM is an inter-governmental organization promoting humane and orderly migration for the benefit of all, with presence in over 100 countries. IOM has been present in Kenya since 1983.