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Research with refugees: taking care not to cut a long story short
Deena Dajani and Patricia Garcia Amado
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A world without camps? Presentations from PDUW’s Panel Session at the International Humanitarian Studies Association conference
Dr Lucy Earle
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Lucy Earle
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Film exploring the lives of urban refugees wins best documentary at Kenyan film festival


This award-winning 40-minute documentary tells the stories of urban refugees in Kenya. It shows the experiences of a handful of refugee households living in Mathare – an informal settlement – in Nairobi, Kenya.

In interviews in their homes, women and men from Ethiopia, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo speak frankly about the events that caused them to flee, their struggles finding shelter and work in Nairobi, and how COVID-19 is impacting on their lives and livelihoods.

The film is an example of how civil society organisations that have traditionally focused on slum-upgrading are  reaching out to displaced people to ensure their views, needs and capacities are understood by and communicated to a broad audience.

The documentary won Best Documentary at the 4th Eldoret Film Festival in December 2021. 

About the project

This research project is the first large-scale study to compare experiences of protracted displacement in cities and camps – where people have been displaced for at least five years. A mixed methods, comparative approach will be applied across one camp and one city in four countries with large displaced populations: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Jordan and Kenya.

Maps showing the urban (in white) and camp (in black) locations where the fieldwork for this research project will be carried out.
Maps showing the urban (in white) and camp (in black) locations where the fieldwork for this research project will be carried out.

The research will provide evidenced analysis of the different outcomes for displaced people in camps and urban areas, focusing specifically on the wellbeing and economies of refugees, returnees and IDPs. 

We will engage a wide range of municipal stakeholders in the research process by establishing a participatory forum in each city. Local partners will convene the forum regularly throughout the project, and will use emerging findings to inform the co-production of solutions to the challenges of urban displacement. With the ultimate goal of improving the self-reliance, wellbeing and productive economies of refugees, returnees and IDPs, the research will assess how cities can foster displaced people’s local inclusion, while benefitting host governments and communities. The research will generate evidence and recommendations for local, national and international policy makers on the pathways towards a more strategic urban response to protracted displacement.