The International Finance Corporation (IFC) commissioned a Consumer and Market Study to explore economic activities, employment trends, consumption levels, and consumer preferences of refugees and host communities in Uganda’s largest refugee-hosting areas in the Southwest and West Nile regions.
The study covers a gap in existing research on the economic situations of forced displacement, which is often conducted from a humanitarian perspective and rarely offers the private sector view. The study’s primary target audience is private companies looking to enter this substantial, yet mostly untapped, market. Commercial and financial data is necessary for private sector engagement, but there is seldom information available on refugees outside of academic, development, and humanitarian studies. The study presents the refugees’ economic activities in their distinct roles as consumers, producers, suppliers, and salaried workers from the view of a private sector firm entering the market. It builds on earlier research conducted by the Uganda Investment Authority, in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), which produced investment profiles for refugee-hosting districts.
The study is financed by the Dutch Partnership on Inclusive Jobs and Education for Host Communities, Refugees and Other Forcibly Displaced Persons (PROSPECTS). This Partnership is a multi-year program that brings together five agencies: IFC, the World Bank Group, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Labour Organization (ILO), and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The Partnership aims to transform the way in which governments and other stakeholders, including the private sector, respond to forced displacement crises. In particular, it aims to (i) enhance the enabling environment for the socioeconomic inclusion of forcibly displaced persons; (ii) enhance access to education and protection services for forcibly displaced persons and host communities; and (iii) strengthen the resilience of host communities through inclusive socioeconomic development that also benefits forcibly displaced persons.
The report is divided into eight chapters. Chapter 1 introduces the study. Chapter 2 outlines the study methodology. Chapter 3 provides socioeconomic baseline data, such as educational attainment, employment, and income, comparable by region and population group (refugees versus host communities). Chapter 4 explores access to telecommunication and financial services. Chapter 5 analyzes household consumption expenditure, the volume of economic activity, consumer preferences, and access to finance and telecommunication services. Chapter 6 discusses findings from the business survey. Chapter 7 briefly looks at agricultural value chains in the Southwest and West Nile. Chapter 8 presents investment opportunities in the refugee-hosting districts for the private sector.