University of Sussex
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Livelihood and informality: the case of urban refugees and internally displaced persons in Kampala

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posted on 2023-06-09, 06:26 authored by Francis Anyanzu
This study contributes to the debates on the assistance and protection of refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) living in Kampala Metropolitan area by exploring the challenges the refugees and IDPs face in accessing livelihood resources through formal institutions and organizations and the informal livelihood strategies they have adopted. It is a case study of the Congolese and Somali refugees and the internally displaced Acholi from northern Uganda. Interviews, observations and archival materials were used to collect data for the study. The findings indicate that refugees and IDPs find difficulties in accessing resources through formal channels in spite of the existence of legal instruments and programmes meant to assist them. Situating the debate within the policy context, it is argued that these difficulties owe to the bureaucratic processes characterized by uncoordinated, restrictive, non-context specific approaches and delays. Within these prevailing challenges of formal assistance, various creative informal economic strategies emerge in which refugees and IDPs use the available livelihood resources to them to eke a living. Based on their historical links with particular resources such as an established presence of ethnic members in a place or an activity and cultural practices of particular skills, knowledge or labour, different ethnic groups have created a niche within a particular informal economic activity. Gender differences have also played a role in determining different kinds of work in which each of the gender groups participate in the selected informal economic activities. The informal economic strategies have contributed not only to taking care of basic needs but also served as transformative and enabling processes through which the refugees/IDPs contribute to urban economy and contest bureaucratic processes.


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  • International Development Theses

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  • masters

Qualification name

  • mphil


  • eng


University of Sussex

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