Arial image of yellow, white and off-white jerry cans being filled up.

Mobilising Resources for Refugees

With this, our twelfth bulletin, The Frame is almost a year old. To commemorate twelve issues, we’re sharing insights from one of the projects we’ve been working on. Specifically, our collaboration with The Cities Alliance’s Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), which includes Kakuma and Kalobeyei in Kenya; Gabiley and Borama in Somalia; Arua and Koboko in Uganda; and Jigjiga and Asosa in Ethiopia.

Here are some lessons and takeaways on mobilising resources for migrant populations. 

In general, the CRRF facilitates regional networks and dialogue to help secondary cities in the Horn of Africa (Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Uganda) better address the challenges and opportunities related to refugees in urban settings. The idea is that peer networks and an active knowledge exchange will help the municipalities identify solutions for both refugees and host populations, reduce the risk of conflict, and provide access to basic services for all vulnerable city residents.

Cities are the first point of entry for most migrants seeking work and shelter, and where they will attempt to integrate and realise their aspirations for a better life. Whether they do so, or live excluded from opportunities in the city, depends on how a city responds to migration. 

Whether they are large, medium, or small municipalities in the global north or south, resource mobilisation remains at the heart of a city government’s organisational sustainability. 

With increasingly competitive and uncertain economic times, city managers need to find ways to create sustainable support for their programs and priorities. Across cities in the global south, municipal resource streams are often unable to keep pace with growing populations and the consequent demand for urban services. 

Participating municipalities in this project are experiencing rapid urbanisation without the commensurate increase in resources to support growing populations. They rely on intergovernmental transfers from central governments, which are often insufficient and sometimes politicised. Moreover, with legal restrictions on financing, few municipalities can raise their own resources from capital markets, income, sales, or business taxes.

Rates of urbanisation in participating countries

As shown in the above graph, the countries participating in this project are among the fastest urbanising in the world. At country level, cities in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia are growing fast. With urbanisation levels of over 4% – much higher than the projected global (1,7%) and African average (3,44%) (between 2020-2025)[2].

Resource Mobilisation Cycle

Subsequently, one of the key challenges secondary cities face is mobilising resources to support refugee integration.

Resource mobilisation is a dynamic and iterative process that has the potential to be both labour intensive and time consuming. To mitigate these burdens, organisations should aim to balance inward- and outward-looking activities, to maintain realistic expectations and formulate clear goals. 

By reflecting on goals, needs, and available resources on a regular basis, in the form of an annual plan for instance, organisations better prepare themselves for every other stage of the cycle. Then, together with partner mapping, strategising, proposal writing, feedback and evaluation, organisations can build foundations for strong, mutually-beneficial relationships.


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Adapted from Stauch, J.D. 2011 ‘Effective frontline fundraising’ New York: Apress

Resource Mobilisation Workshop

As part of the CRRF dialogue, Dr. Caroline Wanjiku Kihato facilitated a workshop designed to give municipality actors the tools to access and utilise new and existing funding streams. 

The session aimed to answer the following questions:

  • How does a municipality evaluate their resource needs?
  • How do they connect with the right donors?
  • How does a city articulate their needs to potential partners?
  • How do municipalities strengthen existing partnerships in ways that support their activities and organisational sustainability?

And these were the main lessons:

  1. Know yourself – your municipality, your resource needs and capabilities.

This means having a clear grasp of your organisation’s mission, vision, inputs, outputs, goals and objectives. This is an important pretext for drafting an annual plan which is a roadmap that provides clarity on organisational goals and expectations for the short, medium, and long-term. Annual plans are essential for fundraising because they are the foundation for any resource mobilisation activity, not only to ensure that resource mobilisation activities remain internally aligned with the organisational vision and mission, but to identify resource needs and priorities.

  1. Know your organisational ecosystem – the potential avenues for funding and collaboration.

From there, the next step is to map out the possible sources of funding. Identifying and narrowing down funding bodies and partner organisations with shared interests, in your geographic area and providing the kinds of resources you need. This will also involve identifying any pre-existent connections between your organisations which might be leveraged for an introduction or in-road. Development, whatever form it takes, is inherently a team sport. Even something as seemingly asymmetrical as fundraising is best understood as fundamentally collaborative and reciprocal. 

  1. Utilise and strengthen existing partnerships.

Related to this is the importance of drawing on your existing network. By building on what’s already there, we can form more solid foundations and therefore, more sustainable futures. This is also a matter of taking advantage of the work you as an organisation have already done to forge connections and partnerships in your field. Don’t take these for granted!

  1. Invest time in articulating your needs to potential partners carefully.

The final major lesson, and it’s a big one, is in Making the Ask. In other words, crafting a compelling funding proposal. This is all about balancing the need for straight forward information, and storytelling—convincing your audience. Outlining your history, “the problem,” and your needs in simple yet evocative terms is ultimately what’s going to get you closer to the resources you need. 

The future of refugee integration depends on our capacity for information sharing and collaboration between cities and municipalities that are experiencing the same or similar developments. Through events designed to foster solidarity across borders, across the entire region, municipalities might learn from each other and build toward sustainable solutions that benefit the largest number of people possible.

[1] Heyman and Brenner. Non-profit Fundraising 101: A Practical Guide with Easy to Implement Ideas and Tips from Industry Experts

[2] UN-HABITAT, World Cities Report 2020: The Value of Sustainable Urbanisation (Nairobi: Un-Habitat, 2020).