Social capital’s role in humanitarian crises

A new article, co-authored by Dr Seun Kolade, has recently been accepted for publication by the Journal of Refugee Studies. The other authors are Professor Daniel Aldrich of Global Resilience Institute at Northeastern University in Boston MA, Dr Kate McMahon of Mercy Corps, and Dr Robert Smith of the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). The article draws in part from data obtained from the ongoing study of displaced populations in Northeast Nigeria, where Boko Haram insurgency has precipitated forcible displacement of more than two million people. There are additional data from Mercy Corp’s intervention in Uganda. Please see the abstract below:

The growing scale and persistence of humanitarian crises constitute a critical problem for nation-states, aid organizations, and crisis-affected people around the world. Many in the fields of disaster response and humanitarian aid continue to focus on material aid, providing essential supplies and services during these crises, followed by restoration of physical infrastructure. We believe decision-makers and aid workers are overlooking the pivotal nature of horizontal and vertical ties within and between communities. Using qualitative and quantitative data from Uganda and Nigeria we show how social capital matters even during the most severe humanitarian crises. Through interviews and regression analyses based on survey data, we find that deeper reservoirs of bridging social capital are significantly associated with the preparedness of individuals affected by the terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria and that bonding and linking social capital are correlated to positive resilience outcomes for individuals affected by food insecurity stresses in the Karamoja region of Uganda. Our paper brings a number of concrete policy recommendations for aid agencies, decision-makers, and residents alike, especially for agencies willing to invest in building social infrastructure in affected or vulnerable populations

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