Refugee-led organizations continues to face a number of barriers, including access to funding and resources due to the fact that different funding opportunities to support refugee-led efforts are often not available or difficult to access. These challenges are exacerbated by an overall limited amount of funding allocated to organization operating within the larger humanitarian infrastructure as compared to other sectors. However, refugees often know what they need and how to best address the challenges they are facing, they just need funding and support. They want to be a part of the developing solutions so that those solutions work better for them. Refugee-led organizations are the ultimate incubators of great ideas. With the capacity to solve real-world problems. Sadly however, refugee-led organizations have been systematically marginalized and disempowered. Because they are seen as too small or lacking in the formalized capacity that global development actors “need” for impact/scale/rapid social change. In order to grow, reach more
people, be effective and efficient, refugee led-organizations such as SOFERES need financial, technical, and organizational support. Often, we know what the refugees need but lack the means to access resources and effectively carry out our programs. When properly resourced, skilled and networked, refugee-led organizations can provide the ultimate vehicle for scale that is also sustained.
What concrete action can well Wishers take to better support refugees in Dzaleka?
In different Camps, especially in Dzaleka, refugees do not have a right to work. As the conditions within the refugee camps continue to worsen: the spread of the novel COVID-19 expands, food aid is lacking, housing and sanitary conditions are poor, etc. However, despite these limitations and harsh conditions, we have begun our own organizations, but we notice a lack of funding. Our organizations receive little to no support from foundations, aid agencies and governments.
The results of our recent group discussion with 12 refugee led- organizations in Dzaleka Camp on what refugee organizations need during this time of COVID-19 outbreak showed that, in addition to programmatic and technical capacity support, inadequate funding remains the key challenge, especially flexible, long-term, unrestricted capital. Most foundations, aid agencies and government donors are results-driven, focusing on short-term outputs, which are the products of externally-planned program implementation, rather than long-term outcomes. Whether it is changing cultural norms and practices, laws and systems, or targeting certain outcomes, systemic change takes time and patience. We all need multi-year, flexible funding in order to deepen our impact, to expand our programs, and to see long-term changes for people we are serving!