There are 60 million displaced people in the world, and every day, an estimated 40,000 people flee their homes in search of safety elsewhere. For many, a temporary stop in a refugee camp becomes a lifetime of dependency and desolation.
Notre Dame anthropology professor Rahul Oka believes there is a better way to provide aid to these residents. For several years, with colleagues in the Department of Anthropology, the Interdisciplinary Center for Network Science and Applications and the Ford Family Program, he has studied the evolution of trade and commerce, focusing on the formal and informal economies that develop within these camps.
Working with the United Nations and the World Bank, his analysis suggests that when refugees can be self-reliant, they may have significantly better long-term outcomes. Much of Oka’s research is done in Kenya at Kakuma refugee camp, one of the largest in the world. His work there was also recently featured in Notre Dame Magazine.
Majak Anyieth, currently a junior at Notre Dame, grew up in Kakuma. He knows firsthand the difficulties of relying on aid packages that contain barely enough provisions to last a month, and how hunger can jeopardize opportunities for education. He’s now started a nonprofit, Education Bridge, to foster peace and entrepreneurship in youth. They are currently building their first school in South Sudan.
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