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The MacArthur Foundation has awarded IMI a grant of US$400,000 to study the complex interrelationships between patterns of migration and displacement in the context of violent conflict

This study will focus on the Great Lakes region of Africa, which has been immersed in conflict for many years. The movement of people in the region is often analysed primarily as a process of displacement, with little consideration of other ‘normal’ reasons for moving, such as a jobs, education or marriage. Policy responses tend to focus on solving this displacement, often by returning people to their place of origin, but such responses frequently fail to recognize the complex mix of motivations for migration. This can result in people wanting to resist such interventions.

Gaining a better understanding of the underlying processes of migration is essential if we are to find more effective ways of helping societies to emerge from prolonged conflict and move towards sustainable development.
IMI staff working on the new project (Oliver Bakewell and Ayla Bonfiglio) will collect data in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, and Uganda, in partnership with regional academic institutions. The data and its subsequent analysis will be discussed at a regional workshop with key stakeholders including policy makers and representatives from states, civil society, international NGOs and donors.

The project will develop new insights into the underlying dynamics of migration which will be extremely valuable in terms of policy design in this and other geographical locations. The research will benefit those affected by conflict as it improves the quality of interventions to address displacement and post-conflict rehabilitation.

Principal Investigator Dr Oliver Bakewell, Co-Director of IMI, said: ‘Everywhere else in the world, people are seen to move for love, learning and adventure (among many other things). However, in the African Great Lakes, we only hear about refugees and internal displacement; there is very little analysis of the patterns of mobility that will continue in both war and peace. This grant from the MacArthur Foundation will enable IMI to address this research gap. It provides an exciting opportunity to build on IMI’s now extensive body of research into African migrations, which includes the MacArthur-funded African Perspectives on Human Mobility project (completed in 2011), and IMI’s series of African Migration Workshops.’

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation supports creative people and effective institutions committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world. Through the support it provides, the Foundation fosters the development of knowledge, nurtures individual creativity, strengthens institutions, helps improve public policy, and provides information to the public, primarily through support for public interest media.