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Across low- and middle-income countries, whether in refugee camps or in urban areas, the dominant humanitarian model is premised upon a provider/beneficiary relationship: international organisations are the protectors and refugees are the protected. This brief, however, describes a largely neglected story running in parallel, wherein refugees themselves mobilise to create community-based organisations or informal networks as alternative providers of social protection.

They mobilise to provide sources of assistance to other refugees in areas as diverse as education, health, livelihoods, finance, and housing. They usually do so without external funding or recognition. Sometimes, these informal sources of social protection may even be regarded by refugee recipients as more important than formal sources of assistance.

Using a mixed methods approach based on ethnographic research and survey methods, the authors (Alexander Betts, Kate Pincock and Evan Easton-Calabria) have examined four contrasting cases of refugee-led social protection in Kenya (Nairobi and Kakuma) and Uganda (Kampala and Nakivale). In their research, they explore what constrains and enables affected communities to be active providers of social protection. In this brief, they outline some of their findings and the implications for policy and practice.

Read the Research in Brief here [pdf 2.9MB]

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