Urban Refugees Incubation Program (URIP)


Urban Refugees


Kampala, Uganda


3.0 million1

Growth Rate


Key Stakeholders

  • Refugees / Migrants

Refugees ; Migrants

Other Stakeholders

  • Local NGOs, CSOs, CBOs

  • International NGOs

  • City Authorities

  • State / Federal Actors

  • Academia

  • Local Small Business

  • Donors

  • Multilateral Organisations

Local NGOs, CSOs, CBOs International NGOs City Authorities State ; Federal Actors Academia Local Small Business Donors Multilateral Organisations

Relevant SDGS

  • 1 No Poverty
  • 8 Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • 16 Peace, Justice








Enabling the development of self-sustaining refugee-led organisations that actively support their communities by improving service delivery and advocacy and facilitating the work of humanitarian actors in non-camp urban settings.


  • More than 85% of refugees reside in low- and middle-income countries.

  • More than 60% of all refugees live in urban areas, out of camp settings.

  • Currently, there are almost 79.5 million forcibly displaced people – including 26 million refugees – expected to rise to more than 250 million in 30 years due to climate change. But resources are not growing proportionally.3

  • As of 2020, there are an estimated 1.4 million refugees in Uganda, of which 6% (80,000) are in the capital, Kampala.4


In these interviews, colleagues from Urban Refugees and their partners from refugee-led organisations (RLOs) in Uganda and East Africa, tell us about the context for their work in the Ugandan capital city, Kampala, why RLOs are best positioned to meet their communities needs, and how and why they should be viewed as equal partners by other actors in the humanitarian system with higher levels of resources and support.

I remember the guy [from the Kampala Capital City Authority (KCCA)] came with blank slides and he said “the first slide you see here, this is the information that we have about refugees in Kampala”… I liked his honesty.

Robert Hakiza

Executive Director of Young African Refugees for Integral Development (YARID)

Even when RLOs are recognised by more formal stakeholders, like governments or humanitarian actors, they’re facing unrealistic goals and expectations…of what they’re supposed to deliver with low levels of support, or training provided in exchange.

Julia Zahreddine

Advocacy Co-ordinator, Urban Refugees

When it comes to decision-making, we’re trying to secure a space so that we’re part and parcel of any discussion that’s going on, so..all of us can find solutions on matters that affect refugees, particularly when it comes to mobility…work and livelihoods.

JeanPaul Kasika

Executive Director of the African Youth Initiative for Development (AYID) and Board member of the Global Refugee-led Network (GRN) African Chapter

Our approach and organisation has to adapt to fit the needs and maturity levels of the refugee-led organisation, rather than the other way round.

Jessica Sallard

Head of Mission, Urban Refugees Incubation Program (or URIP) in Uganda

Refugee-led organisations…are in the best position to express and meet their communities needs…they know [them] better and are in a position to respond faster.

Shima Bahre Abdalla

Deputy Chairperson of the Sudanese Women for Peace and Development Association (SWPDA)

The Incubation Programme has…empowered us to speak boldly with our partners and we have the confidence now to speak to any other partner that might come in

Keyidri Idri

Administrator of United South Sudanese Urban Refugees Community (USSURC)

Key Programme Activities

  • Community engagement

  • Employment/livelihoods opportunities

  • Organisational training/skills building

  • Policy/advocacy

  • Research

  • Stakeholder co-ordination, network-building

Key Outcomes

Since 2016, the URIP has:

  • Supported seven urban RLOs to increase the quantity and reach of services provided to affected populations, expand their networks and co-ordinate with humanitarian partners.


  • Scaled from a pilot in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (three RLOs) to the current programme in Kampala, Uganda (four RLOs) and plans to expand to Nairobi, Kenya or a capital city in the Middle East.


  • Developed a replicable organisational training curriculum for RLOs which can be used by other organisations in new city contexts.


  • Advocated for recognition of RLOs as equal partners in the international aid system and promoted refugee leadership in humaintarian responses.

  • Photo Credits
  •  – Urban Refugees

Innovation Report     2020