Financial integration in displacement

By the end of 2017, an estimated 68.5 million people had been forcibly displaced from their homes as a result of conflict or violence. Of these, 25.4 million were registered refugees, 3.1 million were asylum seekers, and nearly 13.4 million are trapped in protracted situations (UNHCR, 2018). Governments and international and domestic aid agencies have been scrambling to handle the influx of displaced populations. Donors, host governments, and other actors have been stretching to meet basic immediate humanitarian needs, but also to build the self-reliance of the newcomers while they are living in displacement.

Although humanitarian organizations have developed a range of programs to support refugees to address their needs, the humanitarian sector knows very little about the specific experiences and financial strategies that refugees use to stabilize their lives in different stages of displacement. There is a particular gap in understanding how refugees manage their financial lives outside of the aid they receive and after their immediate arrival. The sector further lacks understanding about how refugees financially cope and or/integrate into local economies and societies in the 2-4 years following their arrival.

In reality, refugees leave their homes with variable endowments in human capital, financial assets, and social networks. Communities that host refugees have diverse local labor markets and policies around mobility and identity, as well as levels of support and assistance for displaced people. Without a view into the successful and failing financial strategies that different groups of refugees and host communities use, the humanitarian sector does not know how best to strengthen strategies that work. Nor does the sector know how to provide appropriate complements to fill gaps and address key vulnerabilities for these groups.  

The Financial Integration in Displacement project in Uganda and Mexico aims to fill some of these information gaps and develop a better understanding of the financial lives of refugees to enable policymakers and practitioners to develop and deliver more client responsive programs and policies that have a greater impact on the lives of refugees. In collaboration with Tufts University, the IRC aims to achieve the overall objective by: 

  1. Filling the information gaps that prevent a deeper understanding of the financial needs and preferences of refugees at various stages of displacement using a variety of research methods
  2. Identifying key policies that allow for successful integration of refugees in some contexts as compared to others and engaging the right set of stakeholders to engage and share learning with, and
  3. Designing client responsive interventions based on the findings from the research and refining them based on client input

This study builds on and extends a wider body of ongoing work that the IRC is involved with which looks at similar themes in Jordan and Kenya. 

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.