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Dollo Ado: Building Refugee Economies

The traditional model of refugee camps is designed to help refugees in the emergency phase. However, many people get stuck and live in camps for many years. How can we redesign refugee camps as places that provide opportunities to work, to receive education, and to live in dignity?


To provide new perspectives, the short documentary “Dollo Ado: Building Refugee Economies” takes you to Dollo Ado - a set of five refugee camps at the Somali-Ethiopian border. The film highlights the key findings and lessons learned from the multi-year collaboration of the IKEA Foundation, UNHCR, and the Ethiopian Government. The film provides unique insights into the livelihoods programmes that have been implemented in the five refugee camps over the course of the past decade, drawing on findings from the impact evaluation “Building Refugee Economies: An evaluation of the IKEA Foundation's programmes in Dollo Ado” published by the University of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre in 2020.

The film introduces cooperatives as a central model that was used to kickstart sustainable business activities in areas such as agriculture, livestock, energy, and microfinance. Taking a closer look at the agriculture cooperative, the film discusses three main pillars – infrastructure, coordination, and market linkages - as fundamental building blocks for successful cooperative-based businesses. Taking the livestock value chain as an example, we learn about the importance of drawing upon existing knowledge and regional markets. The firewood cooperatives, however, illustrates that even smart ideas sometimes fail when they meet the complex realities of refugee economies.


Directed by Raphael Bradenbrink. Written by Raphael Bradenbrink and Alexander Betts. Produced by the Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford (2021). Runtime: 12 minutes 28 seconds.

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