Agricultural livelihoods as a pathway for durable solutions

FAO is enabling the socioeconomic integration of refugees in Kenya and Uganda through inclusive value chain development
Good Practices

Agricultural livelihoods as a pathway for durable solutions

FAO is enabling the socioeconomic integration of refugees in Kenya and Uganda through inclusive value chain development

The project in brief

"I realize that the skills I have gained have changed my life"

- Betty, South Sudanese refugee and participant of FAO’s IKEA project in Kiryandongo, Uganda

The project is implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Kenya and Uganda. It began in June 2020 and is currently ongoing. Brief description of the project. Goals.

FAO, with support from the IKEA Foundation, is delivering agricultural livelihoods support to refugees and host communities in Uganda and Kenya to reduce their dependency on humanitarian assistance and promote food and economic security and self-reliance.

By developing inclusive, climate adapted, agricultural value chains and delivering capacity building to grow more and better quality, market-oriented food products, refugees are able to grow food above and beyond subsistence, for their own consumption, generating income enabling their integration within their hosting communities and local economies.

FAO aims at promoting refugee long-term resilience, food and economic security, while contributing to social cohesion and local level peace in order to enable refugee socioeconomic inclusion and break refugees' cycle of dependency on humanitarian assistance to meet basic needs. The goal is to enable refugee self-reliance and to achieve durable solutions for refugees through local integration in Kiryandongo, Uganda, and Turkana, Kenya.

To make this possible, FAO developed sustainable, refugee-inclusive agricultural passion fruit and groundnut value chains, engaged refugees and host communities in joint capacity building activities, and worked hand in hand with local NGOs and Government structures to ensure the long-term sustainability of the project. FAO is also working with ethical and sustainable private sector partners to further formalize the economic inclusion and economic self-reliance for refugees and their hosts.

Main activities of the Good Practice

The outcomes of the IKEA project include building capacities among refugees and host communities for market‑oriented sustainable production and agribusiness; developing profitable and inclusive value chains with refugees and host communities as key actors; and fostering an enabling policy and programming environment for agribusiness investment in fragile contexts.

As part of the project activities, value chain analyses were conducted to identify profitable agricultural products. Groundnut and passionfruit were identified as high-value crops to develop value chains in Uganda and Kenya, respectively. In Kenya, Insta Products, a Nairobi based company that produces ready-to-use therapeutic food, was identified as an ideal private sector partner. In Uganda, KadAfrica, a passionfruit agronomy expert social enterprise was selected to train refugees in market-oriented passionfruit production.

Other activities include establishing kitchen gardens, capacity building of refugees and host communities -with a focus on women and youth- on nutrition, good agricultural practices, climate smart agriculture, market-skills, financial literacy, and the provision of high-quality seeds and tools. Joint refugee and host community Farmer Field Schools were established with experimental training plots where refugee and host participants learn by doing, as they earn an income. FAO also assisted in formalizing producer groups for collective selling.

Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice

The main elements that facilitated the implementation of the good practice are:

  1. Uganda’s progressive refugee policy, which allows refugees to move freely, work, set up a business, own property and land and access national services, including education and health care. Uganda historically pursues a development response to forced displacement and has been working on self-reliance strategies for refugees for decades.
  2. Kenya’s new settlement-based approach, which grants refugees expanded rights to move, access education and financial services, and seek employment. In 2018, in Kenya's Turkana region, which hosts Kakuma Refugee Camp and Kalobeyei Refugee Settlement, the local government launched the multi-sectorial and multi-partner “Kalobeyei Integrated Socio-Economic Development Programme”. Regarding refugees as a catalyst for local development, it is a model of how government, humanitarian and development partners can come together to build more liveable, resilient, sustainable communities that benefit both refugees and host communities.
  3. The flexible, multi-year financing mechanism that the IKEA Foundation offer has been key to enable the delivery of durable solutions oriented, long-term, and comprehensive agricultural livelihoods support for refugees and their host communities.

Partners involved

  • Insta Products
  • KadAfrica
  • UNHCR in Uganda and Kenya
  • Office of the Prime Minister in Uganda
  • Department of Refugee Services in Kenya

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?


During the first year of implementation, a historic drought hit Uganda, which affected availability of water and prevented passionfruit from growing at desired volumes. Because the volume of passionfruit was lower than expected, farmers were able to sell their products in local markets for sufficiently high prices, precluding the need for a private sector aggregator to purchase the passionfruit at scale.

How they were overcome

To respond to the first challenge, FAO in Uganda secured funds from the Government of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to construct water infrastructure and water management structures.

With regards to the second challenge, once the passionfruit crop exceeds the volume that can be absorbed in the local markets, a private sector bulk buyer will be identified to purchase it. In the meantime, the Farmer Field School groups have received FAO’s assistance to become registered and formalized as so that they can gain access to government incentives and programmes aimed at rural regeneration.

Results of the Good Practice

  • Improved food, nutrition and income security of refugee and host communities.
  • Refugees integrated in the local economy and value chains.
  • Linkages established between private sector, refugees and host communities.
  • Two new crops introduced in Kiryandongo, Uganda and Kalobeyei, Kenya, creating new market opportunities that economically benefit both communities.
  • Refugee and host communities’ skills to grow food is improved in Farmer Field Schools (FFS), producing more quantity and more quality.
  • Refugees and host communities’ financial and marketing skills improved.
  • Refugee and host communities are able to interact both at the FFS and markets, which has improved social cohesion.

"Because we know being together helps us develop faster, I did not mind offering a piece of land as our learning site for the (FFS) groups because we the nationals and refugees are just one"

- Christine, host community and Farmer Field School chairperson, Uganda.

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

The good practice contributes to GCR objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance. By investing in long term, inclusive agricultural livelihoods the project has been able to break the cycle of dependency on humanitarian aid, and has provided an opportunity for refugees to become self-sufficient, both in terms of food production and income generation. FAO identified strategic, marketable crops, to develop an inclusive agricultural value chain, which coupled with high quality inputs and innovative knowledge, has unleashed the economic potential of refugees in Uganda and Kenya and is enabling their socioeconomic integration within the host communities. Refugees reported being able to grow enough food for their families and earn an income from the production of passionfruit and groundnuts. By enabling refugee self-reliance through agricultural livelihoods, FAO is contributing towards the achievement of durable solutions for refugees, in the form of local integration.

Next steps

The IKEA project will run until May 2024. In Uganda, given the high adoption rates of passionfruit in the refugee settlement and surrounding host communities in Kiryandongo, the Office of the Prime Minister requested FAO to develop technical guidelines on passion fruit agronomy. In addition, the OPM has requested FAO’s support in formalizing other farmers groups to become formal producer organizations.

Are there areas in which support would be required to continue and/or scale up your good practice?

'Although funding for water for production was secured in Uganda, there remains a need to further expand and rehabilitate water points for production, as well as water harvesting and water collection infrastructure to ensure the sustainability of the agricultural livelihoods of refugees in the area.

In terms of scaling up, there is high demand from government stakeholders and other partners to expand the IKEA project to the whole Kiryandongo settlement, given the need for . substantive investment in large-scale livelihoods projects to build refugees’ longer‑term food security and economic self-reliance. Beneficiary interviewees expressed that there is a high interest and demand from non-participants to be included in the project, with many non-beneficiaries reportedly attending the Farmer Field School lessons. Such demand suggests that an expansion of the project (which currently covers 10% of the settlement population) would be successful if funding was made available