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IDPs in secondary cities: good practices and ongoing challenges from Ethiopia - RSC Research in Brief 16, December 2020

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Key points

  • The case study of Adama, Ethiopia, demonstrates how local government can successfully respond to urban IDPs. Adama’s city government showed generosity and regional cooperation by receiving over 1,300 IDP families at very short notice and facilitating the building of houses, a school and crucial infrastructure for them.
  • Documenting and registering forced migrants is crucial for both emergency and long-term planning.
  • The location and administration of IDP and refugee settlements impacts development efforts and long-term integration.
  • IDPs need support to integrate and overcome social challenges such as religious difference and competition for employment.
  • IDPs have created their own indigenous voluntary associations known as Equb and Iddir and other informal support systems that provide regular assistance. These may be mechanisms to support social integration with local hosts as well, who have the same types of associations.
  • The dire state of undocumented IDPs in Adama, who are often homeless, demonstrates the need for housing to be provided to all forced migrants regardless of registration status.


  • Encourage a whole-of-society response to forced migration arrivals by creating and sharing an appeal for support at all levels of society.
  • Create a registration system for migrants entering the host city through the local city government.
  • Ensure that forced migrants are provided with free housing, which is a crucial first step in helping people stabilise their lives.
  • Facilitate the integration of IDPs through mixed social and cultural gatherings and initiatives such as Iddirs, Equb and coffee gatherings.
  • Utilise community influencers and media outlets to provide learning and awareness-raising about IDPs that promotes social integration.