Research in Brief: Refugee Self-Reliance: Moving Beyond the Marketplace
Evan Easton-Calabria, Ulrike Krause, Jessica Field, Anubhav Tiwari, Yamini Mookherjee, Caitlin Wake, Veronique Barbelet, Estella Carpi, Amy Slaughter, Kellie Leeson
The issue of how to promote refugee self-reliance has become of heightened importance as the number of forcibly displaced people in the world rises and budgets for refugees in long-term situations of displacement shrink. Self-reliance for refugees is commonly discussed as the ability for refugees to live independently from humanitarian assistance. Many humanitarian organisations perceive refugee livelihoods creation, often through entrepreneurship, as the main way to foster refugee self-reliance. Yet focusing on a purely economic definition of refugee self-reliance is problematic as it does not capture the diversity of personal circumstances or the multifarious ways that refugees live without international assistance. Refugee self-reliance, livelihoods, and entrepreneurship have considerable salience – yet there remain notable gaps in understanding and supporting non-economic dimensions of refugee self-reliance. Academic and policy literature often focuses on technical economic outcomes at the expense of social and political dimensions and the use of holistic measurements. This Research in Brief presents new research on refugee self-reliance and addresses areas not commonly included in current discussions. In particular, it focuses on social and cultural, practical, and programmatic aspects of refugee self-reliance. In so doing, it rethinks the concept of refugee self-reliance and aims to contribute recommendations to help achieve positive outcomes in policy and practice. This brief arose out of a two-day workshop at the Refugee Studies Centre on rethinking refugee self-reliance, convened by Evan Easton-Calabria and Claudena Skran (Lawrence University) and funded by the Swiss FDFA Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Refugee Studies Centre.