Exploring transnational diaspora engagement: Refugee settlements in Northern Uganda

The role of diaspora communities in humanitarian interventions

  • What role do diaspora communities play in humanitarian interventions?
  • How does diaspora philanthropy intersect with the work of humanitarian organizations and local civil society organizations in refugee settlements?

The refugee settlements in northern Uganda are home to almost 1 million displaced people from South Sudan and Darfur. Dr Kees Biekart and Dr Antony Otieno Ong’ayo want to understand the role that diaspora communities play and how they engage with humanitarian organizations working in these settlements.

They explore diaspora engagement and remittances (both financial and socio-political), the connections and affinities diaspora communities maintain as well as the acts of solidarity they carry out with their next of kin left behind and their communities in the regions/countries of origin.

Adopting such a lens enhances a nuanced understanding of the interconnections between people and places as influenced by both global and local social processes and the role of diaspora contributions in both contexts.

This study is a follow up of the CORDAID project 'Development and Migration: Policies and Outcomes in the Netherlands'.

Why is this research relevant?

Protracted humanitarian crises which lead to displacement of people put a large burden on the receiving state. This research aims to provide key policy messages to organizations and governments delivering humanitarian aid about how they can collaborate with diaspora communities to share this burden.


The project collaborates with a wide range of state and civil society organizations both in the Netherlands and in Uganda and South Sudan. Key partners include:

  • Dutch humanitarian organizations (CORDAID and CARITAS)
  • UN agencies (UNHCR, IOM) 
  • Diaspora organizations and communities
  • Ministries (Foreign Affairs, Social Affairs, Justice)

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