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Starting from October 2014, Greta Semplici is pursuing a DPhil in Development Studies at the Oxford Department of International Development (ODID). The working title for her research is ‘A Displaced Life: The Resilience Challenge’. She is supervised by Oliver Bakewell.

Greta SempliciResearch focus

The scope of this project is to contribute to the current debate concerning refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) by expanding our knowledge of 'resilient behaviour'. It is a multi-dimensional research about resilience and displacement. How displacement impacts people’s resilience? What are the actual strategies implemented? Which is the level of resilience? And how is it articulated and composed? In addition, this project provides added value to juridical, political and humanitarian interventions:

  1. How displacement impacts people’s resilience?
  2. What can be done to reduce vulnerability and enhance protection of refugees?
  3. How humanitarian interventions can increase resilience of the affected communities?
  4. Given different refugee regimes, can resilience be a win-win solution for both hosting countries and for refugees?

The aim of this research project is to assess and measure the resilience of some of the most vulnerable and fragile populations: refugees and displaced people. Resilience is not observable per se and is considered a latent variable depending on the terms on the right-hand side of the equation (1).

Where: PRS stands for productive capacity, ABS for access to basic services, SN for safety nets and social protection, AC for adaptive capacity, and S for sensitivity. To estimate R, it is therefore necessary to estimate separately the different dimensions, which are themselves latent variables as they cannot be observed directly in a given survey. Every dimension is separately estimated and a composite index of household resilience is then created. Exploring dynamics of displacement and responses by policy makers and refugees themselves offers suggestions for new tools, policies, and strategies in order to reduce vulnerability, increase protection, and induce cohesive growth. This is particularly relevant given displacement will continue to growth in the next decade (UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugee, in Search of Solidarity, 2012).  The quasi-permanent status of refugee in protracted situations has induced individuals to develop a unique economic life, built around external aid, remittances, and small-scale entrepreneurships. Thus, access to income-generating activities, public services and social safety nets are crucial elements in order to address chronic vulnerabilities and prioritising resilience. Yet, economic, environmental, and social burdens together with national security and fear led to the evolution of different and opposite refugee regimes: rigid policies of encampment, closure, temporary protection and repatriation or government-led, opened, and essentially laissez-faire policies. In certain situations out-of-camp schemes have been implemented allowing refugees to live outside refugee camps and engage in informal sector activities and livelihood opportunities. Some of the main challenges to assist refugees and IDPs are given by how host governments support their integration in the labour market, provide services and support livelihoods in order to increase their autonomy and resilience (either in camp sites, non-camp sites, or urban settings) and provide long-lasting solutions. This project wants to develop analytical studies on the jurisprudence, challenges to its implementation, and the impact of this jurisprudence has had on the protection of displaced people and on the economic stability of hosting countries, and to provide policy recommendations to create more effective policies and institutional arrangements given the necessity of new durable solutions and of new broad-based political, juridical and humanitarian approaches.


I decided to pursue a development career during my university studies at the University of Florence in Development Economics. I hold a degree in Development Economics and International Cooperation from the University of Florence and a master degree in Advanced development Economics from the University of Florence. My experiences abroad further strengthened my decision. Work experience, internships and travels have indeed stimulated an even stronger interest in development issues, such as livelihood and poverty measurement and analysis, social inclusion and social development, and the new emerging concept of resilience. My primary research interests lie in the area of social protection mechanisms and resilience for inclusive development, research methods and the importance of developing a qual-quant method. During my professional experience I have worked extensively on field researches focused on targeting, designing, and evaluating social interventions to promote social inclusion, especially in Africa. First in Malawi being involved in a research program on formal and informal social protection mechanisms with LAMA Development and Cooperation Agency , and secondly in Somalia as M&E international consultant for the Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nation Somalia (FAO) on a joint Resilience Program 'Building Resilience in Somalia'.

Beside university or work, other volunteering experiences reflect my interest in development and social issues. For instance I worked as an educator in a multicultural project of Cesvot association called 'Caleidoscopio' which intended to provide a social and educational support to youths of migrant families. I have also been an educator in an International camp of CISV association, Building Global Friendship, and been politically and socially active and participative in my home town of Florence. Last but not the least; I have an innate passion for writing and photography.