Our research

Through our research we aim to generate a better understanding of the drivers of instability, migration, and displacement in the greater Horn of Africa (referring to Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda).

The research explores the similarities and distinctions between the needs and experiences of different types of migrants, including regular migrants (those who migrate by legal means), irregular migrants (those who migrate without legal means), trafficked persons, unaccompanied minors and other vulnerable persons, refugees and asylum seekers, and internally displaced people (IDPs).

We explore the connections and distinctions between regular and irregular migration and displacement on one hand, and on the other hand, the conditions of conflict, insecurity, and underdevelopment. These two strands are taken as interrelated, influencing each other and having many of the same drivers, although the nature of such connections are interrogated in the research. Our research also considers the barriers to and the conditions and processes that underpin possible short term and durable solutions in the region.

It is essential to understand the motivations for migration, both in terms of the conditions that make continued residence in a particular area undesirable or untenable for some people, as well as their goals and objectives in moving. While recognising that conflict and extreme deprivation play a very important role in driving migration, it is also necessary to take account of other drivers that may encourage people’s movement.

We conduct in-depth field research and draw from existing research across the region to analyse the different ways that populations use various forms of mobility in their responses. We also explore how these responses have changed over time.  This research contributes towards a process of tailoring interventions that can provide meaningful alternatives to unsafe or forced migration or that can respond to intra-regional migration and displacement.

The trigger of conflict may force someone to move, but they may use that as an opportunity to pursue other goals – gaining an education, joining family members abroad, sending remittances, or simply broadening their horizons and seeing the world. These everyday migration aspirations, which are seen in all other regions of the world, interact with the conflict and insecurity drivers to create a mixed set of motivations. Understanding this complex mix is essential to gain a full understanding of the drivers of migration and to enable governments and international partners to work on a better targeted strategy to address the needs of potential and current migrants.

Research themes:

The following issues cut across our research agenda.

  • The impact of migration management practices on migration decision making and experiences
  • Gendered practices and experiences of migration
  • The intersection of internal displacement, refugee movement and repatriation
  • Transnational support and information networks
  • Economic livelihoods and networks
  • Education and training
  • Safe and legal pathways to migration
  • Protection, vulnerability and resilience

Ways of working

We are deeply committed to working with experts from the Horn of Africa region to produce the highest quality research. In our first two years we worked with over 50 researchers from across the region, including universities, research centres and freelance researchers with strong expertise in migration matters within the Horn of Africa region.