UNKLESA supports and connects UN families in Kenya from pre-arrival to departure and every step in between. We are here to support you through relocation and  provide you with orientation services when your family moves to Nairobi. Our members build a strong community through family and peer support activities and organize skill development and training workshops to further career development opportunities. The association also advocates on behalf of our members to UN agencies and offices.


History of UNKLESA

UNKLESA (United Nations Kenya Local Expatriate Spouses Association) was launched in September 2004 by the Kenya United Nations Country Team, following recommendations of the UNDG Joint Guidance Note on Employment of Expatriate Spouses. The association is part of an  international network of UN Local Expatriate Spouse Associations (UNLESA) around the world. The UNKLESA membership is a diverse body whose members have a very broad and comprehensive skill set and work experience.

The UNDG Joint Guidance Note was produced to address the growing  concern of the lack of facilities for the employment of UN expatriate spouses and partners. The spouse employment issue translates into a  serious hindrance to the UN system’s ability to recruit and retain the  highest qualified specialists for assignments, especially women. Hence, the programme focuses on permitting and encouraging the employment of UN expatriate spouses and partners and helping organisations take advantage of the pool of skills that is often readily available through well-qualified spouses and partners.

The UNLESAs were established as part of the United Nations Dual Career and Staff Mobility (DC&SM) programme aimed to improve the overall effectiveness of United Nations system organizations by improving the wellbeing and welfare of family members accompanying UN staff on assignments abroad. The programme was an inter-agency initiative of the CEB Human Resources Network, bringing together 17 international organizations to pool their resources into finding solutions to the issues faced by UN system families, particularly those in so-called "dual career" situations. By improving the working and living conditions of UN system staff members and their families the quality of organization’s work is improved, helping to more effectively work towards meeting the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals and other priorities of the UN system.


International relocation is recognized as one of the most stressful life events. According to the 2015 BGRS Global Mobility Trends Survey report 65 % of failures were attributed to spouse or partner dissatisfaction in the new location. 51 % of employers report that employees have turned down international assignments. 21% of employers report that assignees have returned home and are costing the organization between $250,000- $2.5 million for every prematurely terminated contract. 

The UN recognize the difficulties placed on families in international and overseas placements and developed the UNKLESA, as well as the other UNKLESAs, as a way to support and address the needs of internationally mobile UN staff families.

UNKLESA is committed to addressing support of UN families in Kenya holistically and to becoming a platform for dialogue, innovative policy options, and creative family mobility mechanisms in order to help families manage these burdens and enable a less disruptive transition. In supporting UN families, UNKLESA enables the UN System to recruit and retain highly qualified professionals among its internationally mobile personnel.