A step towards resilience: Pioneering market systems development in humanitarian response
This study (PDF) by Mercy Corps had the goal to identify and increase market access and incomes for South Sudanese refugee and local community households who were interested in commercial agriculture in Uganda. Protracted displacement requires a new generation of solutions beyond long-term relief aid, since it is unsustainable to indefinitely provide costly direct assistance that maintains a situation of dependency. The project designed to pioneer the use of the market systems development approach to build the resilience and self-reliance of refugees and host communities. Key activities included using partnerships among market actors to improve farmer access to goods and services and support to businesses to change practices and increase investment, aiming to generate durable income opportunities for refugee and host households. Results showed changed behaviours among all market actors, which are positive indicators of early market systems change. Further, the results revealed the significance of social captical and relationships in accessing goods and information: it increases farmers’ access to resources, improved efficiencies in the supply chain, increased knowledge of farming practices and ultimately improved social capital as a contributor to household resilience. However, to improve market opportunities sufficiently, a multi-year approach is required. The study came with a number of recommendations: 1) Price remained a primary barrier for farmer uptake of improve inputs and services, therefore financing models should be prioritised for future research and programming; 2) An in-depth assessment of sales channels, market dynamics, pricing structures and transaction costs would help to understand the most profitable and sustainable market avenues for farmers; 3) Future programming needs to address cross-cutting constraints, specifically supporting access to finance interventions and identifying market-driven solutions.; 4) Greater consideration needs to be given to the availability of natural resources.
You can find the evaluation report of the study here.