The purpose of the study was to assess the socio economic impact of refugees on their host community. A descriptive survey was adopted for the study. Questionnaires were given to one hundred and nineteen (119) respondents to obtain responses from them. The data collected from the questionnaire was coded, edited and analysed using Microsoft Excel. It is concluded from the study that the economic benefits of refugees on Fetentaa are: attracting international organisations, creation jobs, improving productivity, boosting income and providing important goods and services. The study also concluded that the social benefits of refugees in Fetentaa include refugees adding to peaceful coexistence and integration, refugee presence leading to the construction of important amenities, refugees bringing improved social services, refugees bringing about improved health services in Fetentaa, and refugees bringing improved educational facilities in Fetentaa. It is recommended that Stakeholders should team up and provide more resources and amenities for the host community, Fetentaa. This will help solve the challenge where refugees‘ presence in the host community overwhelms the available resources such as health facilities and schools. Also the stakeholders in the host community need to work on seeking the help of security personnel who would help improve the security of residents in the host community.
Background to the Study
In times past, it was recounted that humans migrated purposely in search of food, fertile land and for security (Marlowe, 2007). In contemporary times, these forms of movement are no different. It is evident that people move from one geographical space to the other mainly for trade, to better their economic status and also for security. In Lee‘s theory of Migration (1966), referred to as the ‗Pull – Push‘ factors of human migration, factors in the destination that attract persons to migrate are referred to as the pull factors and those at the origin that compel persons to migrate are referred to as the push factors. In migration, people move from one geographical space to the other with the purpose of residing there temporarily or permanently over a period of time usually a year.
Over the past years, there is a class of migrants known as the refugees. These categories of persons are also referred to as forced migrants. To this effect the question of who a refugee is comes to bear. In accordance with the 1951 UN convention, a refugee is a person owing to well- founded fear of persecution, has fled his or her country of origin due to his or her affiliation to a political party, religion, race or ethnic group. To this extent it is very clear that the refugee situation is a growing phenomenon as these social elements aforementioned would invariably generate possible conflict. According to the (UNHCR, 2018), 68.5 million persons are forcibly displaced worldwide. Among the stated number are 25.4 million being refugees all over the world, over half of which are under the age of 18 years (UNHCR, 2018).
Most refugee hosting states are from the less developed countries. These less developed countries are already overstretched with their resources. The coming of these refugees will mean more burden on these countries (UNHCR, 1997). The influx of refugees into a country will most definitely have implications on the host, and this is seen both on the negatives and the positives. Undoubtedly, the refugee situation to the host community will definitely have an adverse effect on the host community but can also be a source of an ‗open up‘ development for the host community (World Bank, 2016).
The nature of impacts of refugee influx and camp establishments on host communities are many and diverse. It is widely accepted that the influx of refugees could have considerable impacts on natural resources and socio-economic aspects (Martin, 2005). Refugee camps are commonly established in remote areas with poor and underdeveloped conditions where often host populations are struggling to sustain their livelihoods. This implies that refugee influx will have some effect on the lives of the people living in the area. How it will impact, nonetheless, depends on several factors and approaches where both positive and negative outcomes are possibilities (Maystadt and Verwimp 2009:1-2).
Some of the funds for the camp operation are allocated to infrastructure investments that benefit the host community. The impact of the camps on the local host community are widely felt through trading opportunities and reduced food and commodity prices. Furthermore, refugee camps have developed major local markets with considerable purchasing power in relation to pastoral products such as milk and livestock. One of the positive contributions that refugees can make to host countries is skills and knowledge that can be utilized for the benefit of local people. In this regard, the multiple ways in which refugees pursue their livelihoods can make significant
contributions to the local economy. Another important contribution of refugees to local economies is associated with their access to transnational resources provided by other refugees and co-nationals living abroad, including remittances and social networks (Jacobsen, 2002). A study of Somali refugees and remittances explains how cash transfers to refugees have impacts on receiving communities (Horst and Van Hear, 2002). Individual remittances that often go to displaced families and relatives are used to meet basic livelihood needs. Similarly, research on the Somali Diaspora in Canada points out how informal banking systems have facilitated cash transfers to Somali refugees in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Yemen (Hamza, 2006). These resources have contributed not only to the improvement of living conditions at the household level, but also to those in refugee camps, especially in terms of housing, water provision, and telephone services.
In Tanzania, refugees have provided cheap labor in sectors such as agriculture, construction, housekeeping, and catering. In this regard, the refugee presence has affected the wages of local non-skilled workers and benefited local entrepreneurs (Maystadt and Verwim, 2009). Similarly, an increase in the demand for rental housing from either well-to-do refugees or expatriate aid personnel in Peshawar, Pakistan during the 1980s and 90s, particularly benefitted local property owners and disadvantaged less well-to-do Pakistanis looking for rental housing (Schmeidl, 2002). This illustrates that when refugees arrive, those among the host population who have access to resources, education, or power are better positioned to benefit from the refugee presence, while those who lack these resources in the local context become further marginalized (Maystadt and Verwim, 2009).
However, despite these positive indicators, the presence of refugees is also associated with the depletion of firewood and building materials as well as competition for grazing land in
the immediate vicinity of the camps. Issues of gender-based violence have also been examined in the context of livelihood opportunities in situations of displacement. Some studies show that gender relations within households are affected by the increasing participation of women in income-generating activities, which affects not only the distribution of resources within households, but also traditional roles of family structures (Women‘s Refugee Commission, 2009). In a traditionally patriarchal society, this dependency situation can lead to psycho-social disorders, distress, and domestic violence (Morris, 2010).
The presence of large influx of refugees has also been associated with environmental impacts on land, water, natural resources, and slum growth. Various studies provide examples of different types of environmental impacts related to the influx of refugees and their long-term presence (Jacobsen 1997, UNHCR 1998, FAO 2005). The most evident environmental impacts include: (i) deforestation and firewood depletion, (ii) land degradation, (iii) unsustainable groundwater extraction, and (iv) water pollution. In addition, human waste disposal by displaced persons can contaminate local groundwater and cause the spread of diseases (United Nations Environment Program, 2005). Other impacts from the initial and long-term displacement are related to uncontrolled slum growth.
From the ongoing discussions, although a lot of research has been conducted on the impact of refugees on host communities and countries worldwide (Chambers 1986, Whitaker 1999, Alix-Garcia 2007), little empirical studies have been conducted about the study in Ghana. Even the studies conducted in Ghana concentrated on the Budumburam and Krisan refugees camps. No study was found on the Brong Ahafo region or the Fetentaa camp precisely. Also the studies in Ghana employed weak statistical techniques and therefore makes it difficult for the results of the studies to be generalized. This study seeks to bridge the research gap by
investigating the socio economic impact of the Ivorian refugees on the Fetentaa community in Berekum in the Brong Ahafo Region of Ghana. The study will employ inferential statistical tools in analyzing the effects of refugees on host communities in Ghana. This will facilitate the generalization of results from the findings of the study.
The general objective of the research is to examine the socio economic impact of Ivorian refugees on their host community. The research sought to achieve the following specific objectives
- To examine the economic benefits of refugees on Fetentaa as the host community
- To identify the social benefits of refugees on Fetentaa as the host community
- To find out the challenges refugees pose to Fetentaa as a host community
Significance of the Study
It is hoped that the findings of this study will bring to limelight the economic benefits of having refugees in the Fetentaa community in the Berekum District in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana. Also the study will investigate the social benefits of having refugees in the Fetentaa community in the Berekum District in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana. These will help stakeholders appreciate the refugees in the host community.
The study will also find out the effect of refugees in the host community. This will help policy makers harness these effects to promote community development.
The study will also investigate the challenges refugees pose to the inhabitants of Fetentaa in the Berekum in the Brong Ahafo region of Ghana. This will provide information to authorities to find ways of curbing the challenges the refugees pose to the inhabitants of Fetentaa.
To researchers, students and individuals interested in the subject of migration, refugees and their socio economic impact, the findings of the study will serve as a reference point or literature for review, reference, and basis on which further studies can be undertaken.
Delimitations of the Study
The study was narrowed to the socio economic impact of refugees on Fetentaa in the Berekum District. Therefore, caution is advised on any attempt to generalize the findings of the study.
Limitations of the Study
Due to the limited time, some respondents were not cooperative because of the length of the questionnaire. Some respondents also were not able to provide vital information in much detail due to time and the structured nature of most of the items.
Organisation of the Study
The study is organized in five chapters. Chapter One is the introduction and it provides the background to the study, statement of the problem, objectives of the study, research questions, significance of the study, scope and limitations of the study, and the organisation of the study. Chapter Two provides a review of pertinent literature on the subject of the study addressing key concepts and providing empirical information. Chapter Three presents the methodology which includes a description of the research design, study population, sample and sample procedures, data collection instruments, data collection procedure validity and reliability concerns, data analysis procedure, and ethical considerations. Chapter Four presents results and analysis. Finally, Chapter Five concludes the research with a summary findings, conclusions and recommendations from the study.