Published by
Mercy Corps

With Uganda now home to over one million South Sudanese refugees, aid actors in the country’s West Nile region are looking for sustainable strategies to help individuals cope and recover.

As refugees prepare for many years of displacement, spending is fueling growth in local marketplaces. Uganda’s stable context provides opportunities to strengthen West Nile’s weak livelihood markets. 

Yet many current aid strategies undermine, rather than support, local markets’ capacity to support refugees. 

This brief calls for an analysis-based transition away from in-kind aid for food and livelihoods. It looks at an approach that emphasises partnerships with local businesses, reductions of subsidies, and demand-driven livelihoods support. 

This shift requires a combination of market systems development and humanitarian expertise, longer term funding strategies to strengthen local markets, and investments to understand long-run programme impacts on markets and households.