Everyday displacement governance in peri-urban settings. Strengthening the Resilience of Sahelian Societies (STRESS)

Project summary

Sahelian societies have demonstrated their capacity to adopt efficient strategies (such as seasonal migrations and manifestations of solidarity) in order to adjust to harsh environmental conditions, rapid changes in environmental conditions and conflicts. Yet, the combined effects of lasting conflicts and climate change in the Sahel forced 4 million people to flee their homes and find refuge in safe locations. The vast majority of those are internally displaced persons (IDPs), who have taken up residence in peri-urban areas of secondary and capital cities, joining long-term members of the urban poor in precarious environments and livelihoods. This new situation produces considerable challenges (such as housing, pressure on scarce natural resources, access to clean water and food, income generating activities, access to health and education) to IDPs, host communities, local and national authorities and their international partners (donors, development and humanitarian organisations).
The research programme STRESS (Strengthening the Resilience of Sahelian Societies) explores the everyday governance of IDPs in peri-urban areas of Niger and Burkina Faso in a context of uncertainty due to climate change and conflict.
STRESS explores empirically and theoretically the concept of resilience, i.e. the ability of individuals, groups, communities and institutions to cope with external disturbances and stresses. Through 3 work packages, STRESS analyzes the relations between (1) resilience and voluntary (im)mobility (at IDPs level), (2) resilience and displacement governance (at institutional level) and (3) resilience and solidarity (at community level). The methodology combines quantitative (surveys) and qualitative approaches (especially ethnography). STRESS' development policy objective is to promote inclusive and resilient urban governance policies that take into account IDPs’ wellbeing and their resilience strategies as well as host communities and their local humanitarian initiatives by producing and disseminating knowledge and evidence-based recommendations for decision makers and practitioners in Niger and Burkina Faso. Moreover, STRESS aims to strengthen research capacity in the Sahel on these topical issues.

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