Stephanie Loose, Human Settlements Officer
Introduction to the project
Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia and Tanzania
2019 and beyond
The Regional Dialogue brings together local and national authorities and urban actors (civil society, academia and private sector) from eight East African countries to share their experiences on welcoming, accommodating and including refugees/migrants/IDPs in their cities and municipalities.
Representatives from Kenya, Uganda, Somalia, Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Zambia and Tanzania will come together to learn from peers about successful strategies for the inclusion of refugees/IDPs/migrants in urban areas. The focus areas of discussion will be increased access to housing, land, social and economic inclusion; how urban and territorial planning can serve to provide a better (and spatially more equal) access to services; and how entrepreneurship and local economic development, benefitting host and migrant communities, can be fostered.
Apart from local authorities/urban actors, representatives of national level authorities will participate in the Dialogue, for an enhanced exchange between different government levels. A representative of IGAD will also introduce outcomes from the national level dialogue on IDPs. Other participants will include representatives from different areas of expertise, including social and gender affairs, urban and territorial planning (physical planning), social entrepreneurs, environmental affairs, economic development – fostering a whole-of-government and a whole-of-society approach.
Main activities of the Good Practice
- Organization of an East Africa Regional Dialogue/Platform for local authorities hosting a large number of refugees/urban migrants (as a main target group) but also including urban actors from the national level, civil society, private sector and academia;
- Capacity development (through thematic sessions including policy environment, planning, entrepreneurship; peer-to-peer learning and exchange of best practices; introduction of tools and international experiences);
- Development of action lists for local level actors;
- Facilitated and enhanced dialogue between different stakeholders
UNCTAD; in coordination with UNHCR and IOM.
Challenges and how they were overcome
- The East African Dialogue for Local Authorities is a pilot project, building on prior and ongoing work of UNCTAD and UN-Habitat in different countries within the region. One challenge may be that local level actors will face challenges in the process of including and accommodating refugees/migrants/IDPs due to different national level policies, levels of decentralization, governance structures or political will for participatory processes. During the Dialogue, there will be a specific session comparing the national level policies that influence local level actions (including on creating an enabling environment for local economic development and livelihood opportunities for refugee/migrant communities).
- In addition, security situations in countries and contexts are highly different, leading to specific challenges at the local or national level and make best practices and shared experiences less comparable.
- The varied levels of capacity of local governments and urban actors in different countries and contexts (including human, institutional but also financial capacity) are also of concern.
- Challenges for financing services or budget allocation processes can be similar in different contexts. Participants will specifically be asked about their financial challenges in order to try to learn more for an improved programming. While some local contexts have been facing protracted displacement situations, the rapid influx of refugees/migrants might be a rather recent phenomenon in other local contexts. In some countries, large internal displacement might be the challenge. In others, it might be migration across international borders (irregular, unsafe migration).
- The last challenge – but also opportunity of this activity – is to better understand the impact of culture and its influence on the ability of a society for inclusion and social cohesion within different local contexts.
Results of the Good Practice
- As migration and (forced) displacement in East Africa occur largely on a regional scale, this dialogue will provide a platform to enable participants from the East African context to exchange and learn from peers (focusing on local level actors), and jointly work on practical solutions and actions for urban stakeholders (within the national level policy frameworks).
- The East African Dialogue will strongly promote a whole-of-society and a whole-of-government approach as well as highlight the importance of a human-rights approach. Representatives of national and local level authorities will be present, as well as the civil society, private sector and academia. The Dialogue will also include working group sessions that discuss and provide recommendations to address thematic areas such land, housing, LED and entrepreneurship, human security/protection, gender etc. Working groups will be formed across administrative (country) boundaries as well as across-sectors. The inclusion of different levels of government will allow cross- learning and enhance exchange between policy makers and those implementing it.
- National level participants will have a higher awareness of local realities and local level challenges in implementing national level policies. On the other side, local level actors will access a greater understanding of national level decision-making processes, such as being able to learn of opportunities for actions within national policies. On the long term, a change of mind-set towards more inclusive approaches might be possible.
- Bringing together different urban actors (including civil society, private sector and academia) will enhance future processes to be more integrated and inclusive. Ownership during the implementation phases can be increased by participatory processes for prioritization of activities and recommendations for actions.
- In the working groups, concrete lists for actions (based on local needs) will be developed and can influence further programming and coordination of actors (including national level, local level as well as humanitarian and development partners).
We would like to replicate the activity in different regional/ sub-regional context (pledge).