A role for market analysis

Securing refugees’ access to work opportunities would help to ameliorate the problems associated with a primarily humanitarian response. Market analyses can match gaps in the economy with refugees’ skills.

Host governments and communities are often concerned with the impact refugees will have on their economy. One idea for addressing this concern is to guide response – from the moment of refugees’ arrival – in a way that capitalises on refugees’ economic involvement that is helpful to a host community. In order for a response to be designed in a way that does this, a market analysis detailing both the gaps in the domestic labour market and the skills present in the new refugee community – matching a country’s market needs with an available workforce – needs to be conducted. With this information, governments and practitioners could identify housing, work and aid dissemination options with an eye to self-sufficiency.

The skills needed to conduct quick and accurate market analyses are not abundantly present within the current refugee response community. It is therefore important to partner with research institutions that collect data and can offer templates for swift data collection by academics or practitioners. Institutions like the World Bank or various private sector organisations are skilled in quick and sometimes complex market analyses. This kind of expertise could help refugee response practitioners quickly suggest alternatives to encampment which are capable of promoting economic development in the early stages of displacement and also of informing policy advocacy efforts aimed at helping refugees in protracted situations to access markets.

Market access alone does not guarantee that refugees are protected from exploitation, however. For this reason, there must also be guidance on practical access to formal employment and labour protections, including minimum wage protection.

Livelihoods programmes that are informed by market analyses and that prioritise formal, non-discriminatory access to the market are only some of the pieces of a broader roadmap. Other pieces of an effective roadmap may include approaches for connecting livelihoods programmes with partners skilled in work rights advocacy, approaches for helping refugees access vocational training, and approaches for building shared economic spaces accessible by both refugee and local populations.


Diana Essex-Lettieri diana.essex@asylumaccess.org
Deputy Director, Asylum Access

Jessica Therkelsen jessica.therkelsen@asylumaccess.org
Global Policy Director, Asylum Access


Anna Wirth anna.k.wirth@hotmail.co.nz


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