Trajectories of displacement: A multi-disciplinary exploration into return and social repair after mass displacement in northern Uganda

Lead Research Organisation: London School of Economics & Pol Sci
Department Name: Department of International Development

Abstract

Northern Uganda experienced one of the world's most notorious instances of forced displacement during and immediately after the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency, which started around 1986 and ended on Ugandan soil in 2006. Northern Ugandan displacement was notable for its duration - in some areas for well over a decade; and for the fact that it involved the entire rural populations of the affected areas from around 2002, including all of rural Acholiland - around one million people - with a further eight hundred thousand from neighbouring communities. For the first 16 years of the conflict there was virtually no humanitarian assistance to the affected population, which only began in earnest after 2003. However for the following ten years, while the population was displaced and later, from 2007, returning to and re-establishing their homes, large amounts of international funding were spent. Aid was deployed on physical infrastructure, support for state security, education and health services, disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) programmes, peacebuilding and transitional justice initiatives, and agricultural and other livelihoods development.
Northern Uganda's was a model international intervention. There was a humanitarian phase during and immediately after the conflict, a transition phase during the return and resettlement phase, followed by development interventions to enable the war affected population to regain some of the lost ground caused by displacement and war, to help them attain the same level of development as the rest of the country. Compared to many conflict and post-conflict environments, northern Uganda's was straightforward. The security, political and logistical challenges were all manageable and the LRA conflict was of a sufficiently high public profile that funds provided by governments and international institutions were substantial. The intervention in northern Uganda was, it is reasonable to assume, done as well as these things can be done.
However there has been little attempt to learn from the Ugandan experience. This research aims to correct this deficiency through understanding displacement and return through the perceptions and understandings of the people concerned. The outcome will be a series of studies that together evaluate not so much specific interventions but the lived experience of cumulative interventions in different sectors. It will look at communities' understandings of their own coping strategies and resilience; of the current state of their social capital and civil society as they interpret the notions and what has helped and hindered in the post-conflict recovery period; and of how ten years of international aid interventions, largely 'off the shelf' but sometimes attempting something more targeted, have affected their lives. In this sense the project will address humanitarian-development impunity, which is fostered by neglect - perhaps active rejection - of learning opportunities, as has been seen so far in northern Uganda. We aim to create a model for community-centred post-intervention evaluation across sectors.
The research team are soon to conclude work on the Justice and Security Research Programme, which has been filling a massive knowledge gap on the experiences of ordinary people around security in Central Africa, and what are the public authorities - in practice very often not the state - which provide security services. The forced displacement programme will build on this model and this experience, seeking to understand displacement and return through the lived realities of affected people, in the process challenging the comfortable assumptions of the development industry. We predict that interventions in different sectors will emerge as positively and negatively experienced by populations in terms of their long-term outcomes, and that this learning will be disseminated in ways that can influence interventions in other post conflict settings.

Planned Impact

Our overall impact goal is to produce high quality evidence-based research to inform national and international policies and practices in sites of widespread displacement and return in Central Africa and potentially further afield. The research will benefit four main groups:
1. Local populations in conflict affected places who desire human security, peace and poverty alleviation. We believe that the everyday experiences of local populations in conflict-affected situations ought to drive both policy and research agendas. The research project will have an impact on local populations in conflict-affected places by assisting the development of policies and practices based on evidence of the set of functioning regulatory structures and norms used by local populations in sites of mass displacement and return, rather than merely those that have been defined for them. Thus we recognise the urgent need, working through our strong local networks of researchers, civil society leaders and customary authorities to involve returnee populations in the research process and to draw local researchers and research assistants into all aspects of research design. We also recognise the need to involve local collaborators in dissemination.
2. Policy makers -by generating recommendations and strategies to strengthen current approaches and interventions related to persistent conflict and endemic violence in our research sites. Policy that delivers real human security in conflict affected areas must be designed to work effectively in complex and contested local environments, characterized by competing interests and hybrid public authority structures. Central Africa today is witnessing what the UNHCR has termed 'immense forced displacement totals' but is also a region witnessing large scale 'returns'. These return processes - which include both civilians and former combatants - are dynamic, contingent and fragile. They are also massively under-researched leading to an environment of humanitarian impunity whereby donors and implementers are able to ignore the views and interests of their purported 'beneficiaries'. Our evidence-based findings will be translated into succinct policy briefings containing infographics and actionable recommendations. These will be disseminated widely through our website and via twitter and will provide opportunities for knowledge exchange at annual stakeholder meetings in our research countries and at policy round-tables in London, Brussels and New York, the home cities of our institutions.
3. Publics - by promoting engagement with scientific evidence on how viable ways of life are constituted post return and/or how certain dynamics can lead to endemic and persistent conflict. Our stakeholder meetings and policy roundtables will strengthen networks among teaching and research institutions as well as the media in the UK, Uganda and Central African countries to help disseminate accessible research material, in the form of journalistic articles and blog discussion forums.
4. The next generation of development practitioners and Central African leaders. We see the training of a cadre of young development professionals as a key instrument in changing thinking and practice over the longer term. We will ensure access to improved educational opportunities for local researchers in researched countries, recognising the need to work with individuals to help foster a new generation of African leaders who can take our research findings forward. We can now do this systematically as part of the ground-breaking Programme for African Leadership (PfAL) scheme based at the LSE. This programme provides prestigious graduate scholarships in an effort to foster a new generation of African leaders who will promote the best practices of economic and social development in their respective organisations and countries.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description During workshops across North America, Africa and Europe research members presented research outputs from the project and a range of insights have emerged, all of which are being written up in various journal articles and have been presented to stakeholders and scholars in briefings and conferences.

- The re-integration of people recruited into armed factions in the region has been very poorly monitored. 40% of boys return from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) between 2002 and 2006 seem to have disappeared from their homes and many have probably been re-recruited into armed factions.
- Much of the work on trauma and therapy in the region has missed those in the need. more than 70% of those who have undergone very disturbing experiences are living deep in rural areas where they haven't been contacted since returning from the LRA.
- A striking finding from research is that those who have spent longest with violent armed groups are the least likely to experience incapicitating stigma from the surrounding population and the least likely to experience signs and symptoms of mental disorder. It would appear that a capacity to survive a rebel group reflects their resilience upon their return.
- Another key finding is the circularity of return among returnees. Individuals move back and forth in and out of war zones in is a perpetual state of returning.
- The longer period that people have spent with war factions, the less likely they'll be given ancestral land and thus likely be continual seeking for employment
Exploitation Route - It is clear there needs to be a rethinking of principles associated with the reuniting of separated children in war-affected areas where there are children who have been involved with violent acts. The Cape Town and Paris principles require that organisations promote family integration; however in northern Uganda that was often the most dangerous place to take a child.
- Agencies with a protection mandate need to have longer term follow-up mechanism of those for whom they take responsibility, where those mechanisms aren't in place, those who have been given protection find themselves in a extremely vulnerable place when those protections are withdrawn.
- A range of policy briefs are currently being developed by the research team.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Security and Diplomacy

URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/category/refugees-2/displacement-and-return/
 
Description Findings on the resettlement of people from the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) have been drawn upon by the Member of Parliament for Gulu in framing a private member's bill to secure support particularly for those were returned to their families as babies. URL: https://www.parliament.go.ug/sites/default/files/February%2011th-15th%2C%202019.pdf Findings have also been reported to Save the Children, UNICEF and other agencies that were initially involved in reintegrating the children. Discussions are underway with a number of NGOs and donors to see if new programmes of support could be initiated. In February and March 2019, workshops in Gulu and Kampala focussed on a series of policy briefs and other matters were fed back orally to stakeholders in Gulu and Kampala on account of it being written up. The team has actively been engaged in mediating land conflicts and supporting groups resisting land grabs through the legal process.
First Year Of Impact 2019
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other
Impact Types Societal

 
Description Partnership: Gulu University 
Organisation Gulu University
PI Contribution We will be hosting and funding visiting scholar Grace Akello from the Gulu University at the London School of Economics, Firoz Lalji Centre for Africa for three months. Researcher Julian Hopwood will be teaching in place of Grace Akello at Gulu University.
Collaborator Contribution Grace Akello intends on conducting research and partake in knowledge exchange through seminar and conference workshops upon arrival 12 March 2018.
Impact As Grace Akello has recently commenced her three month stay at the LSE, her contributions to the two grants are forthcoming.
Start Year 2018
 
Description Analysing the role of football in building social cohesion in war-affected Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact On the Africa@LSE blog Madeleine Issitt and Aloh Francis find out just how successful football is in developing social harmony in post-conflict areas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/11/14/analysing-the-role-of-football-in-building-social-coh...
 
Description Cattle raids, gunfights and tribal tensions during field work in Uganda #LSEreturn 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Tumblr (Opens in new window)Click to share on Google+ (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)
While conducting research on post-conflict peace building interventions in northern Uganda, Francis Abonga is surprised to encounter a gunfight.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2019/01/14/cattle-raids-gunfights-and-tribal-tensions-during-fie...
 
Description Conference Presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Holly Porter presented research from ongoing research at the American Anthropological Association, San Jose, USA, November 14-18 which will eventually be a second book, entitled: Sex, Love and War: Intimate relations in a violent world. It was one of several presentations in the panel which she co-organizesd with Ryan O'Byrne highlighting other research related to Politics of Return and Trajectories of Displacement grants. The panel was entitled: The Contradictions of 'Resilience' and Return in the Aftermath of Forced Displacement. It sparked a lively discussion and questions afterward.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description I will not just be average: How football took Aloh Francis from Uganda's war-zone to Vietnam and back 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Madeleine Issitt narrates how Aloh Francis emerged from conflict-affected northern Uganda to develop a football career that took him to Vietnam.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/09/17/i-will-not-be-just-average-how-football-took-aloh-fra...
 
Description International facilitator at British Academy Writing Workshop: Rwandan Perspectives on post-conflict reconstruction and peacebuilding 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact International facilitator at British Academy-funded writing workshop in Kigali (organised by KCL, SOAS and Aegis Trust) to support the development of promising early career scholars in Rwanda.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited Talk, book talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Holly Porter gave a book talk and presentation at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London, May 24, 2018 entitled: After Rape: Violence justice and social harmony in Uganda. Subsequently, the talk is available on podcast from their website. It was well attended by students and faculty as well as others from outside the University and sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and the school reported increased interest in related subject areas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Holly Porter gave a book talk and presentation at the University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Social Science in Denmark, April 13th entitled: After Rape: Violence justice and social harmony in Uganda. It was well attended by students and faculty as well as others from outside the University and sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and the school reported increased interest in related subject areas. Colleagues at the University of Copenhagen were also planning to begin research on related gender issues and violence in northern Uganda and this talk and discussion afterward has impacted this as well as led to plans for future collaboration.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Invited talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Holly Porter gave a book talk and presentation at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, February 8, 2018 entitled: After Rape: Violence justice and social harmony in Uganda. It was well attended by postgraduate and doctoral students and faculty as well as others from outside the University and sparked questions and discussion afterwards, and the school reported increased interest in related subject areas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Knowledge exchange meetings with policymakers, development practitioners and civil society 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Five days of meetings in Kampala, Uganda to engage development practitioners, government officials, legal practitioners and civil society organisations on emerging findings of research on transitional justice and access to justice in northern Uganda and implications for policy.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Knowledge exchange workshop with development and foreign policy practitioners 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on "what works" in justice and security interventions in central Africa to UK HMG audience at the British Embassy in Nairobi. Presentation drew upon research conducted on transitional justice and access to state justice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Notes from the field: mob justice in Gulu 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Julian Hopwood writes about an unsettling event on the field that led him to reflect on mob justice and the complicated moral and political territory it finds itself.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/11/23/notes-from-the-field-mob-justice-in-gulu/
 
Description Pursuing Justice in Northern Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Anna Macdonald and Holly Porter explore issues of justice, accountability and social repair in the context of post-conflict northern Uganda.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/12/24/pursuing-justice-in-northern-uganda-lsereturn/
 
Description Revisiting 'justice' in northern Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact This is a blog that explores justice interventions in northern Uganda.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/01/11/revisiting-justice-in-northern-uganda-lsereturn/
 
Description Revisiting 'justice' in northern Uganda #LSEreturn 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Two studies in the current issue of the Journal of Eastern African Studies re-visit the fascinating debate about justice and reconciliation in northern Uganda, nearly ten years since the fighting between the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and the Government of Uganda (GoU) stopped on Ugandan soil, as Anna Macdonald, Holly Porter and Letha Victor discuss in this blog.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/01/11/revisiting-justice-in-northern-uganda-lsereturn/
 
Description Roundtable Discussion at the Overseas Development Institute: 'Gender, sexuality and violence in humanitarian crises' 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Gender, sexuality and violence have gained significant attention in humanitarianism. However, 'gender' often translates as a singular concern for women, which neglects questions of agency and the dynamic and changing realities of gendered power relations. The Disasters Journal Special Issue on 'Gender, sexuality and violence in humanitarian crises' brings together contributions that critically address different aspects of how humanitarian interventions have had gendered impacts. In doing so, the issue provides food for thought for how the humanitarian community thinks about and engages with issues of gender and sexuality in areas of crisis. With presentations from authors of the special issue, this roundtable puts a spotlight on the framing of gender in humanitarianism and situations of violence. The event aims to stimulate a critical discussion on how we view and practice 'gender' in humanitarian crises, bringing together practitioners, donors and academics from the gender and humanitarian communities. In particular, the roundtable, featuring Holly Porter and Nangiro Saum, will explore three key themes from the special issue: 1) sexual violence responses; 2) masculinities and the risk to exclude men from programming; and 3) institutions and governance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://securelivelihoods.org/gender-sexuality-and-violence-in-humanitarian-crises/
 
Description The legacy of LRA conflict continues to disempower women in rural Northern Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Donnas Ojok shares a compelling personal tale of how the impact of the LRA war in Northern Uganda still make it difficult for women and girls to thrive.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/03/14/the-legacy-of-lra-conflict-continues-to-disempower-wom...
 
Description Trajectories of Displacement Dissemination Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Study participants or study members
Results and Impact A dissemination workshop to present, highlight and discuss findings from the Trajectories of Displacement Research was held in Gulu for two days (organised jointly by the TOD team and in particular Holly Porter and Julian Hopwood) . The first day was a practical workshop for researchers involved in the grant to develop policy briefs, and to strategise on the implications of the evidence from the various aspects of research, the appropriate audiences, approach and recommendations that emerging. The second day was open to other stakeholders from northern Uganda where the researchers presented their work. Holly Porter presented research from one of the outputs on the grant entitled: Home People and the People of Human Rights which explores why so few women access available services after rape. It looks at the role of NGOs and relatives and suggests ways that NGOs might adapt interventions and approaches to improve access and relevance.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Trajectories of Displacement Stakeholder Workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In August 2017, a large research stakeholders workshop was held in Gulu, northern Uganda, chaired by Dr Grace Akello, a research consultant on the grant from Gulu University. Forty Ugandan researchers were in attendance from the UK and across Uganda, as well as practitioners and policy-makers. The workshop programme encouraged the development of research ideas linked to 'Trajectories of Displacement' as well as advice and training on the writing of research proposals. Shortly after the workshop a 'call for proposals' was circulated and twenty-five proposals were received. To date, we have commissioned three papers (topics below) and the PI, co-Is and project consultants will work closely with and mentor the junior researchers as they develop their research and write it up.

Julius Kaka, 'The civil-military interface and the reality of post-conflict reconstruction in northern Uganda'

Eric Awich Ocen, 'A re-examination of women's participation in household livelihoods initiatives and community development: the case of the VSLA and self-help groups in northern Uganda'.

Robert Okeny, 'Self-help groups, social capital and the role of development actors in community post-conflict reconstruction'.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Truth, Evidence and Proof in the realm of the unseen 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact On the Africa@LSE blog, Julian Hopwood reflects in first of a two-part series on matters of evidence in both the Ugandan justice system and in popular understandings of witchcraft.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/11/23/truth-evidence-and-proof-in-the-realm-of-the-unseen-p...
 
Description Truth, Evidence and Proof in the realm of the unseen (Part 2) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact In the Africa@LSE blog, Julian Hopwood reflects in the second article of a two-part series on matters of evidence in both the Ugandan justice system and in popular understandings of witchcraft.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/africaatlse/2018/11/30/truth-evidence-and-proof-in-the-realm-of-the-unseen-p...
 
Description Women Peace and Security , Intensive Course for policymakers, presentation of research on sexual violence and justice in Northern Uganda 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The Women Peace and Security centre at LSE organises an annual intensive course attended by practitioners and policymakers. Holly Porter presented research from northern Uganda on sexual violence, and responses to it. The presentation highlighted some of the policy implications of the research. The presentation sparked a lively debate, questions and discussion afterward, some of which has been continued over email.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Workshops in Gulu (Feb-March 2019) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Workshop held over a series of days in Gulu, presenting and discussing papers that will be included in a special issue on displacement and return.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018