IR-Kenya started operations in Kenya in 1993 on a one-to-one orphans sponsorship programme through a local CBO in Mandera County, Northern Kenya. It opened its fully fledged office in March in 2006 at the height of drought in the Horn of Africa. Since, then IR has been providing humanitarian and developmental assistance to vulnerable communities. Over these years it has implemented various developmental and relief activities in the region. This has remarkably changed the lives of the vulnerable and disadvantaged communities. In January 2010, IR extended its operation to Wajir County, neighboring Mandera. Again, in October 2011, the programme was extended to Garissa County, with a focus to primarily support Refugees at the Daadab Camp (the largest refugee camp globally) and host communities at the neighborhood.
North Eastern Kenya is the least developed region in Kenya. The region generally has very poor infrastructure, rough roads, underdeveloped social amenities and a remote potential for improvement in the near future. Government efforts to improve the situation of arid regions are hampered by lack of funds and policy bias among other factors. The region is also affected by perennial border conflict in Somalia – Ethiopia, a situation that has led to increased insecurity. The region has faced numerous challenges such as drought,flash flooding and inter clan and border conflicts.The impact of recurrent drought-related crises in North Eastern Kenya is rapidly escalating, with more and more people being affected with every occurrence. Drought is becoming more frequent, allowing less time for recovery in between and increasing the vulnerability of local populations. The current ability of pastoralists to respond to drought is limited not only due to the increasing frequency, but also due to an increasing population, a dwindling resource base, conflict, changes in access to land and water as well as the impact of other shocks such as flooding and disease outbreaks.
IR Kenya has tailored its programs towards emergency response, recovery, and livelihood support. The programmes are aligned to respond to and comply with government developmental policies (such as Vision 2030), community focus, regional vision as well as global millennium development goals. The focal programme areas since February 2006 have included; Nutrition and Health, Water and sanitation, Orphans sponsorship, Livelihoods programmes and Emergency and Relief Supplies. IR has ensured that its programmes target those who are most vulnerable in the most disadvantaged areas.