Revisiting the Politics of Asylum in Africa: Explaining Kenya's Sub-National Policy Variation

Public Deposited
Resource Type
  • The politics of asylum in Africa are changing. In recent years countries in Africa have taken increasingly different approaches from one another in the development, interpretation, and implementation of asylum policy. However, the advent of such variation is not just occurring between sovereign states, but also within them. It is no longer possible to refer to a generalized 'politics of asylum in Africa,' nor is it possible to omit discussions of sub-national politics from our analyses - as I contend that they play a valuable role in determining policy outcomes. To understand these changes, I ask what explains contemporary sub-national variation in the politics of asylum in Africa's major refugee hosting states? This dissertation uses Kenya to conduct a within-case comparison that examines the interpretation and implementation of Kenya's national asylum policy in its three major refugee hosting regions: the Dadaab refugee camps in Garissa County, the Kakuma refugee camps and the Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement in Turkana County, and the urban refugee population in Kenya's Capital City, Nairobi. This dissertation argues that sub-national variation in Kenya has been facilitated, at least in part, by the introduction of the 2010 Constitution and the introduction of devolved governance to the country. Replacing Kenya's previously highly centralized political structure with democratically accountable county governments is expected to influence the political calculus of local elites, creating space for more diverse policy options in these contexts. As the scope of what is politically possible widens, so too does the potential for mutually beneficial outcomes that support both the refugee and local host populations. The politics of devolution in Kenya, while a key facilitating factor, is not the sole influence on the outcomes observed in each major refugee hosting region. I further argue that additional contextual factors unique to each major refugee hosting area such as the level of involvement from the central government, refugee population demographics, and local political opportunity structures work to shape and condition the limits of political possibilities at the sub-national level.

Thesis Degree Level
Thesis Degree Name
Thesis Degree Discipline
Rights Notes
  • Copyright © 2022 the author(s). Theses may be used for non-commercial research, educational, or related academic purposes only. Such uses include personal study, research, scholarship, and teaching. Theses may only be shared by linking to Carleton University Institutional Repository and no part may be used without proper attribution to the author. No part may be used for commercial purposes directly or indirectly via a for-profit platform; no adaptation or derivative works are permitted without consent from the copyright owner.
Date Created
  • 2022


In Collection: