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Dr Naohiko Omata and Dr Josiah Kaplan write for Debating Development on their recent research and Working Paper, 'Refugee livelihoods in Kampala, Nakivale and Kyangwali settlements: patterns of engagement with the private sector'

Contrary to popular perception, refugees’ economic lives by no means exist in a ‘vacuum’, shut off from the wider economic structures of their host country. Indeed, no refugee camp, regardless of how remote its location, is ever fully closed to traffic in goods, capital and people from outside.

In urban settings, self-settled refugees are tied to the larger host economy even more directly. While existing studies have identified broad connections between refugees and external economies, little is known in detail about how, and in what ways, refugees are linked with local, district or regional economic actors in a refugee-receiving state.

To fill in this analytical gap, the Humanitarian Innovation Project has, over the last year, conducted fieldwork in Uganda across three sites: Kampala, Nakivale and Kyangwali refugee settlements. Our findings, in turn, offer valuable and intriguing insights into the complex modalities of engagement which play out between refugees and the Ugandan host economy.


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