Digitalisation and Information in the Lives of Migrants and Refugees

Migration and digitalisation are both global trends which will significantly shape social, economic and political patterns in the coming decades. This project explores how digitalisation shapes and influences the lives of migrants and refugees in Kenya. Using interview and survey data, the project will help researchers and policy makers understand how the access and use of digital technology influences migrants' and refugees' mobility decisions, their economic participation as well as levels of social cohesion.

Project Lead:
Charles Martin-Shields
Jana Kuhnt

Project Team:

Mirko Eppler (Political Science)
Stella Gaetani (Political Science)
Francy Köllner (Political Science)
Nyat Mebrahtu
(Cultural Science)
Antonia Peters (Law)
Carlotta Preiß (Political Science)

Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)

Time frame:
2018 - 2019 / completed

Co-operation Partner:

HIAS, Sentinel Project, Refugee Consortium of Kenya

Project description

This project focuses on the lives of migrants and refugees in Kenya, looking specifically at how digital technology and access to information affect peoples’ decisions to migrate, their economic participation as well as its effects on social cohesion. It will address the root causes of displacement by exploring the ways that digital information and access to information communication technologies (ICTs) influences migrants’ and refugees’ perceptions of risk and economic opportunity, as well as the access to social networks.

In terms of regional migration policy, this research will shed light on how governance organizations are using digital technologies to support migration policies, for example through digital registration of refugees or e-visas for migrants.

We will study the research questions at the individual (e.g. How do individual migrants and refugees use technology to make mobility decisions?) as well as at the organizational level ( e.g. How do institutions such as UNHCR integrate digital tools into their migration and refugee policies?). The project will use a multi-site approach and multi-method approach, integrating qualitative and quantiative methods. 

Taken together the project will provide an individual-to-policy-level picture of how digital tools and access to them affect mobility decisions, economic participation, and levels of social cohesion and formulate  policy responses. The results will feed directly into the knowledge generated under the “Reducing root causes of forced displacement and managing migration” project currently underway at the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE).