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Protracted Displacement in an Urban World

This research project is the first large-scale study to compare experiences of protracted displacement in cities and camps. It explores how living in cities or camps produce different outcomes for refugees' wellbeing, self-reliance and livelihoods.

IRO. 2Eastleigh PDUW
Eastleigh, Nairobi, Kenya. Photo credit: Samuel Hall, 2021

For decades, camps have been the default response of the international community to host and assist large groups of people in flight. These places, created to ease the delivery of aid during emergencies, have proven totally inadequate to meet the needs and expectation of refugees and internally displaced persons in the mid- to long-term. Actually, at least 60% of forcibly displaced people have opted to live out of camps and in cities, whenever that is possible, in their search for autonomy and opportunities to move on with their lives.

Living in a city or in a camp can affect the wellbeing and the livelihood options and outcomes of displaced people. However this has not been adequately assessed. Little is known about how displaced people in cities interact with local people, institutions, and economies, or how cities can better respond to their needs. This understanding is critical if we are to move towards displacement responses that promote rights, dignity, and wellbeing, and facilitate displaced people’s economic integration and contributions to their host settings.

Protracted Displacement in an Urban World (PDUW) is a 3-year project led by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED) in collaboration with Cardiff University. Funded by the UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund, the PDUW aims to provide evidence of the differences that urban and camps settings make to the well-being and productive livelihoods of refugees and IDPs across four different countries (Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Jordan, and Kenya). In doing so, it will reveal displaced people's capacity to contribute to their host societies, and the role that municipalities and local actors can play in fostering refugees and IDPs self-reliance and the realisation of their rights.


UKRI Global Challenges Research Fund



  • Cardiff University
  • Dilla University
  • International Institute for Environment and Development
  • Maseno University
  • Samuel Hall
  • Slums Dwellers International
  • The Hashemite University
  • The International Rescue Committee
  • The Regional Durable Solutions Secretariat
  • The Women's Refugee Commission