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FEATURE STORY October 1, 2018

Young Fellows Discuss Innovative Research on Forced Displacement


The Young Fellowship Program’s first workshop offered an opportunity for the fellows to present their research and receive feedback

As forced displacement emerges as an important development challenge, ten young fellows from eight countries in Africa are conducting innovative analysis at the World Bank and UNHCR that aims to improve the response to these crises.   

This unique group of post-doctoral scholars was selected through a competitive process as part of a partnership program between the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the World Bank Group and UNHCR to build the evidence base on forced displacement. Seven out of ten fellows are women.

Soazic Elise Wang Sonne, a PhD candidate from Cameroon, participated in a recent workshop where the fellows presented initial findings from their research.

Elise has been researching the long-term impact of hosting refugees on second generation health outcomes in Tanzania. She is looking at datasets from three refugee camps in Tanzania.

“I still remember how devastated I became when I saw a homeless Chadian family with little children,” said Elise, recounting her experience as a teenager. The family was one of thousands that were forcibly displaced, fleeing the first and second Chadian civil war.

She was not able to extend her help to the family then, but that experience nurtured her curiosity to study how shocks experienced by parents might impact the health of their children in the long term. After completing graduate studies, she decided to pursue a PhD researching the intergenerational effects of conflict on second generation health outcomes.

Through this fellowship, she hopes to inform policy makers about the magnitude of the long-term effects of hosting refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) on the health of the second generation of children.

Ismael Issifou, who received a PhD in Economics, has been working on understanding asylum decisions by countries receiving displaced people. According to his analysis, characterizing the geographical orientation of asylum-seekers is useful to assess their chances of being granted refugee status as the number of applications increases.  

“If we know the countries’ trends on granting refugee status, asylum-seekers can seek refuge based on these trends and they may be able to choose the country of asylum,” said Ismael.

“There is a real shortage of researchers specializing in forced displacement, which is a major bottleneck to improving our understanding. The research topics that the fellows are working on are very innovative, and will contribute to filling this gap,” said World Bank lead economist Paolo Verme, who manages the program.      

The fellows are expected to complete the first paper by December and the second paper by June next year. They plan to work on the following research topics, and their papers will be published and shared broadly:  

Aisatta Coulibaly (Cote D’Ivoire)

  • The distributional impacts of refugee inflows on host communities
  • The distributional impact of price changes induced by refugee inflows

Ashenafi Ayenew (Ethiopia)

  • Service delivery and human capital accumulation in internally displaced persons (IDPs) camps: Evidence from South Sudan
  • The effect of non-cognitive characteristics on refugee camp lengths-of-stay

Claudia Noumedem Temgoua (Cameroon)           

  • A multidimensional poverty assessment of IDPs in Iraq
  • The welfare of refugees and host communities in Jordan

Florence Nimoh (Ghana)

  • Meta-analysis of Vulnerability Determinants of Poverty
  • Poverty analysis with survey to survey imputation methods

Ibrahima Sarr (Senegal)

  • Chad Impact Evaluation
  • Poverty analysis with survey to survey imputation methods

Ismael Issifou (Togo)

  • Understanding asylum decisions by countries receiving forced migrants
  • The macroeconomic impact of displacement crises on host countreis

Kevwe Pela (Ethiopia)

  • How do educational programs for refugees affect their employment prospects in Jordan and Lebanon?
  • How do pre-existing skills and education levels of refugees affect their employment prospects?

Nènè Oumou Diallo (Guinea)

  • The effect of forced migration on labor market outcomes in Uganda
  • The impact of forced migration into Uganda on local aggregate demand and business behaviour

Soazic Elise Wang Sonne (Cameroon)

  • Second generation impacts of forced displacement on early childhood development: Evidence from Burundi
  • On the long-term impact of internal forced displacement on second generation’s early childhood development: Evidence from the DRC and Brundi

Uche Ekhator (Nigeria)

  • Gender based violence, maternal and child health, and armed conflict in Nigeria
  • Gender-based violence, maternal and child health, and armed conflict in Chad


This work is part of the program “Building the Evidence on Protracted Forced Displacement: A Multi-Stakeholder Partnership." funded by UK aid from the United Kingdom's Department for International Development (DFID).