Experimental financial inclusion as refugee management: shelter insecurities at the bottom of the pyramid in Kenya

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Kenya was amongst the first countries in the world to undergo structural adjustment programmes in 1980 leading to welfare retrenchment and the lack of social safety nets for many of its urban poor. This article shows how refugee hosting in Kenya has coincided with ongoing statewide neoliberalisation. With lack of state-led welfare support, and diminished global aid for a nearly three-decade long encampment in Dadaab and Kakuma, refugees have no choice but to turn to the private sector for shelter aid through microcredit loans especially in major urban centres. This article shows how neoliberal policies dovetail with refugee governance in Kenya by examining the deployment of financial inclusion strategies on multiple scales. Drawing upon fieldwork in 2018, I argue that refugee assistance intersects with the needs of private capital where refugees, due to their social marginality, are prone to experimentation in terms of financial inclusion. Housing microfinance, an ineffective guarantor of long-term refugee shelter, and new technologies of financial inclusion exemplify neoliberal experimentation and illustrate how these strategies fail to ensure the long-term survival of refugees.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal of Housing Policy
Early online date29 Oct 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 29 Oct 2020