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Since World War II, the
continuous rise in refugee numbers in each passing decade continues to be a major
challenge to the United Nations (UN). Whenever there is internal displacement
or a humanitarian catastrophe, the UN is on the ground providing relief,
support and assistance. Several aid agencies under the umbrella organization
United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) are responsible for
humanitarian assistance and protection of refugees (Salmio, 2009; Sivolobova,

The refugee crisis in
Africa is compounded by the dwindling humanitarian aid (Ikanda, 2008). Christopher
P., et al (2017) asserts that humanitarian aid is funded by donations
from individuals, corporations, governments and other organizations. However,
lately people no longer give to charities like they have in the past. Donor
fatigue is something that has been on the rise in the recent years for a
variety of reasons. The most benign cause of donor fatigue is simply budget
exhaustion. Many people who engage in charitable giving set aside a specific
budget every year for this purpose and when the budget runs out, they are no
longer able to donate. Rise of humanitarian crisis in the world wipe out the
donation budget of a charitable household. In other instances, people grow
frustrated with constant appeals for donation. Still, in times of economic
hardship, households cut back on expenses especially charitable. Besides, some
donors grow frustrated when they donate to charities and nothing seems to
happen, or when the charity seems to be really mismanaged. Finally, the
predicament of refugees who have lived outside their country for more than five
years is even worse. Donors are increasingly reluctant to shoulder the burden
of feeding these long-term or protracted refugees. Lack of humanitarian funds
for whatever reason has dire consequences for the escalating refugee crisis. Christopher, P. et al (2017): Defining
the Scope of Aid Reduction and Its Challenges for Civil Society Organizations:
Laying the Foundation for New Theory. Kennesaw State University Kennesaw

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According to UNHCR1
facts and figures (2016), by end of 2016 there were 65.6 million people forcibly
displaced worldwide from their homes due to conflict, violence or persecution,
out of this 22.5 million are refugees and 30% of them are hosted in Africa;
this gives an average of 28,300 people displaced worldwide on daily basis.
UNHCR thus asserts that when a person becomes a refugee, they are likely to remain
refugee for several years. Majority remain displaced for nearly two decades and
this puts their lives in limbo.

Given the above scenario,
development of long-term refugees’ self-reliance is widely advocated by academics
and practitioners discouraging refugee programmes that are only limited to
relief aid rather than sustainable development. Various initiatives have been championed
encouraging NGOs to move beyond the care and maintenance approach of holding
refugees in camps where they are dependent on international assistance for
security, food, water, shelter, medical treatment, education and other human
needs (2003; UNHCR, 2005; Sivolobova, 2012).

From the 1990s many humanitarian
aid agencies have sought to review their policies in an attempt to create an
effective transition between emergency humanitarian aid and longer-term
development (Konyndyk, 2005; UNHCR, 2005; 2011). Small scale business is
considered the best avenue in the drive towards the economic self-reliance of
refugees. Income generating projects are meant to provide sustainable
livelihoods, instil new survival skills in refugees, permit them to enjoy a limited
degree of financial autonomy and introduce money into a poorly monetized
environment. Many case studies recognize the usefulness of income-generation
ventures. Even then, critics argue that the focus on developmental aid and
self-sufficiency through income-generating activities was introduced
prematurely and that aid agencies did not involve all the stakeholders in all
the major stages in the shift. It is suggested that the refugees and host
countries were not consulted (Mohamed, 2006). Indeed, most countries in Africa
have an encampment policy for refugees which restrict their freedom of movement
and subsequently limit market access for their products thereby reducing their
chances of becoming self-reliant (Cooper, 2007). Even the few that earn a small
income running informal businesses outside the camps have to contend with
fierce competition with often equally impoverished locals that contributed to
outbreaks of violence. For example a number of refugees who were selling goods
at a small trading centre outside Dzaleka in Malawi were assaulted by local
traders who accused them of undermining their businesses. The Malawian
government intervened by withdrawing trading licenses for refugees (Konyndyk,

Subsequent events of armed
conflicts in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region has resulted in the
flight of millions of people in search of safety, with some of them ending in
refugee camps. Towards the end of the World War II refugee camps became
standardized form of assisting displaced people (Salmio, 2009; Sivolobova,

A refugee camp is defined by UNHCR (2016) as a temporary
accommodation for people who have been forced to flee their home to provide
immediate protection and safety for the world’s most vulnerable people. UNHCR
reports that there are 2.6 million people living in camps worldwide.

According to UNHCR, Dadaab refugee camp has a population of 234,346
registered refugees and asylum seekers as at the beginning of 2018. Dadaab
refugee camp consists of four separate camps with the first camps established
in 1991 with refugees fleeing the civil war in Somalia crossed the border into
Kenya. The second large influx occurred in 2011 where 130,000 refugees arrived
from fleeing drought and famine in southern Somalia. The old camps resemble
naturally-grown towns and have developed into commercial hubs connecting North-eastern
and Southern regions of Kenya and Somalia respectively.

Heightened national security measures have led to a shrinking
asylum space and restriction of movements for refugees outside the camp areas.
For refugees hosted in camps, unable to leave the camps without travel permits
and unable to officially work due to Kenyan employment laws, many refugees in
Dadaab camp have turned to income-generating activities to survive.
Humanitarian aid agencies seem to gravitating towards the new assistance model
that takes into account reduced vulnerability over time, actively promotes
refugees’ ability to support themselves economically rather than pushing them
into dependence, and minimizes tensions through better engagement with the host
community (Mohamed, 2006; Horst, 2006; Ikanda, 2008; UNHCR, 2005; 2011).

Social resilience is a relatively new concept which
emphasizes the importance of social context in coping with adversity. It can be
defined as the ability to cope with and adapt to environmental and social
change mediated through appropriate institutions. In the context of people
forced into refugee situations, a social resilience framework can be used to
understand how people make use (or fail to make use) of social networks, along
with social and cultural institutions (formal and informal) to deal with the
situations in which they find themselves.

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