“Littered with logos!”: an investigation into the relationship between water provision, humanitarian branding, donor accountability, and self-reliance in Ugandan refugee settlements

Diana Martin*, Julia Brown

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The branding of humanitarian assets and programme signage (often in English) is common practice in displacement contexts. Such visibility is a reminder of the special status of refugee spaces and a requirement imposed by donors. However, such branding, which forms part of the humanitarian organisations’ accountability to donors, raises profound issues in relation to the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF) and the agenda of refugee self-reliance.

Drawing on our work on water access in Ugandan refugee settlements for humanitarian NGOs, we present a case study that explores humanitarian branding through the lens of accountability and illustrates its potential consequences on the refugee self-reliance and the sustainability of water supply systems. As accountability to donors is prioritised over accountability to affected populations (AAP), we argue that the impact of branding can be better understood by investigating its psychological effects on programme beneficiaries. While refugees are routinely left out of decision-making processes around water provision, the branding of water structures, coupled with the lack of accountability to affected populations (AAP) potentially contributes towards undermining refugees’ sense of ownership over the upkeep and maintenance of water sources. This ultimately limits refugees’ self-reliance and the sustainability of programming as advanced by the CRRF.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages26
JournalRefugee Survey Quarterly
Early online date18 Oct 2021
DOIs
Publication statusEarly online - 18 Oct 2021

Keywords

  • refugee settlements
  • accountability to donors
  • CRRF
  • self-reliance
  • sustainability
  • branding
  • Uganda
  • water access

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