Diaspora Humanitarianism in Complex Crises (D-Hum)

Start date
July 1, 2019
End date
June 30, 2024
Project code
18-06-DIIS
Thematic areas
No thematic area specified
Total grant
11,999,970
Contact person
Nauja Kleist
Description

Project summary

This research project explores how Somali diaspora groups mobilize, channel and deliver humanitarian assistance to Somalia during complex humanitarian crises. Based on fieldwork in Somalia, Kenya and Europe, it examines the movements of goods, people and ideas, from crisis-affected areas, hubs for humanitarian agencies and diaspora activities, to settlement countries. Diaspora groups have emerged as key humanitarian actors in situations of protracted displacement and conflict. They are often the first to assist in acute emergencies and remain engaged during lengthy and complex crises. Their remittances reach remote areas and hard-to-reach populations, surpassing humanitarian aid sent to fragile states six times. Despite its significance for local populations, literature on diaspora humanitarianism is only starting to emerge and policy engagement remains hesitant. Analyzing and theorizing such assistance is therefore vital to understand the dynamics of humanitarian crises comprehensively. Somalia, is an exemplary case to study this, due to its history of conflict and massive displacement. Half of Somalia’s population is in acute need of assistance and connections with diaspora groups abroad constitute a lifeline for local populations. To examine diaspora humanitarianism in this context, the project researches hard-to-reach fieldsites and practices around humanitarian assistance, and may support efforts to close the gap between short-term relief and sustainable development. It also aims to enhance collaboration between international humanitarian agencies and diaspora actors. Theoretically, it develops the concept of humanitarian infrastructures to analyze material forms of transport, communication systems and technologies as well as the institutions and social networks that facilitate the movement of support. Finally, it will strengthen academia in the Horn of Africa and promote North-South and South-South research collaboration.