Diaspora Humanitarianism in Complex Crises (D-Hum)


Start date: 1 July, 2019 End date: 31 August, 2025 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier Window 1) Project code: 18-06-DIIS Countries: Kenya Somalia (incl. Somaliland) Thematic areas: Humanitarian assistance and development, Lead institution: Danish Institute for International Studies (DIIS), Denmark Partner institutions: Rako Research and Communication Centre (RRCC), Somaliland Rift Valley Institute (RVI), Kenya University of Nairobi (UoN), Kenya Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) Project coordinator: Nauja Kleist Total grant: 11,999,970 DKK

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.


Midterm report
PhD and postdoc progress:
- Abdirahman Edle (AE) and Fatima Dahir (FD) have presented their concept notes at a IDS seminar, Uni of Nairobi. Sahra Ahmed Koshin (SAK) is finalizing her concept not.
- AE and FD visited DIIS and Uni of CPH, Aug. – Nov. 2021. Participation in a PhD course, jointly organized by the D-Hum, D-SIP and GCM FFU-projects as well as D-Hum and D-SIP organized a PhD masterclass. Karuti Kanyinga (KK), IDS, visited for three weeks, contributing to research training.
- SAK visited DIIS April-June 2022.
- SAK has done pilot fieldwork in Zambia (2021); EA in Mogadishu (2020).
- Both postdocs have done fieldwork and papers as planned.

Joint meetings:
- Monthly joint meetings with progress reports, ongoing research, communication, planning.
- Hybrid workshop at DIIS in Sept. 2021, focusing on a collective paper on Covid-19. Combined with a brownbag lunch at DIIS with KK and Mark Bradbury , Rift Valley Institute (RVI).
- Annual meeting in Somaliland, March 2022, hosted by Rako, incl. a one-day conference with academic and policy stakeholders.

-1 DIIS webinar series on infrastructure as analytical approach (2020).
-1 collective DIIS policy brief on diaspora humanitarianism (2021)
- 5 public seminars in Hargeisa (2021-2022).
- 12 joint blogposts on Covid-19 (2020-2022).
- 3 co-authored policy briefs (DIIS and RVI)
-1 RVI report on Somali diaspora engagement (2022)
-- Several papers are under peer-review or being finalized for submission.

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