ECONOMIC EFFECTS OF URBAN REFUGEES ON HOST COMMUNITY: CASE OF SOMALI REFUGEES IN EASTLEIGH, 1991-2012

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ABSTRACT

In many countries in the world, against a backdrop of chronic unaddressed urban poverty,

rapid urbanization is giving rise to normalized daily violence and low-level armed

conflict in densely populated slums. A sizeable minority of the people coping with these

conditions are refugees who relocate from their home country in search for safety in

foreign countries. To this group of people, the urban context presents unique barriers to

the economic success, but also some significant advantages. In Nairobi, where this study

was conducted, refugee and displaced people suffer from limited freedom of movement

due to the threats of petty crime and violence, armed gangs and police harassment.

Thousands of female refugee and youth are employed as domestic workers, where they

say their rights are trampled. These forces limit the refugee’s ability to socialize and earn

a living and access services. Most refugees are at a major educational disadvantage in

Nairobi and many never manage to return to school, as they face various barriers.

As the key to accessing economic opportunities, Somali refugees in Nairobi developed

social networks. This study sought to establish how relationships between urban refugees

and more established local communities affect refugee access to key services and

resources. In contrast to camps, where refugees are relatively isolated from local host

communities and are more dependent on assistance from humanitarian agencies to meet

their basic needs, Somali refugees in urban Nairobi typically depend more on social

networks, relationships and individual agency to re-establish their livelihoods. This study

has explored the conditions under which refugee-host relations promoted or inhibited

refugee access to local services and other resources. It also considered how positive

impacts of these evolving relationships was nurtured and developed to improve economic

outcomes for both the host communities and refugees in Nairobi.

The research was a case study of the impact of the refugee stay on the economic

livelihood of Eastleigh. It was guided by three objectives namely; investigating the

relationship between the refugee population in Eastleigh the area’s economy, examining

the economic effects of urban refugees on host community in Eastleigh and investigating

the relationships between the refugees and the local communities. This study was

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anchored on refugee aid and development theory. This theory calls for strategies linking

refugee relief programs with local development policies as was first used by Betts Robert

and Gorman Robert during the second International Conference on Assistance to

Refugees in Africa (ICARA II) in 1984. These authors asserted that refugee assistance

should be development-oriented and should take into account host population needs. The

theory of refugee and development draws attention to the situation of host populations

benefiting economically from refugee presence against the fundamental assumption that

refugees represent a problem or a burden, rather than an opportunity. The methodology

adopted in this research was pragmatic approach where both quantitative and qualitative

methods were applied in order to capture the key elements of the research purpose and

objectives. Quantitative come in because there was need to establish the approximate

population of refugees living in Eastleigh. This required historical data which was based

on factual information. To get this factual information, the study heavily relied on

secondary and primary data sources. The research also used in-depth interviews with key

informants through individual and focused group discussion. For efficiency the study

utilized a questionnaire approach which assisted in capturing the required data.

 

http://erepository.uonbi.ac.ke/handle/11295/58412

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