American Univesity of Beirut

Informal adaptive mechanisms among refugees in the Middle East: Understanding adaptation, resilience and agency in securing livelihoods in the informal economy among refugees from Syria in Lebanon and Jordan

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​​​​​Funded by the Ford Foundation, this 2-year project aims to understand the various adaptive mechanisms adopted by Syrian refugees to secure their livelihoods in the informal economy. It explores whether these informal adaptive mechanisms are tangible manifestations of refugee communities’ abilities to be resilient, adaptive and have agency to fend off the crisis they are facing and establish their functioning capacities to secure their livelihoods. To this end, five case studies were conducted in Lebanon and Jordan that focus on refugees’ adaptation experiences. The case studies were conducted among micro-entrepreneurs, tribal communities, agricultural workers, and females who head their households, and delve into how key dimensions,​ such as legality, temporality, connectedness, spatiality, and gender roles, ​influence refugees’ ability to adapt and secure their livelihoods in the informal economy.​

Issam Fares Institute research and coordination team

Nasser Yassin, I​nterim Director-IFI (Principal Investigator)
Maysa Baroud, Project Coordinator
Yara Mourad, Program Manager
Aseel Jammal, Research Assistant
Nancy El-Hajj, Research Assistant
Michael Younan, Research Assistant

Commissioned researchers

Nur Turkmani, Economic Development Solutions
Kanj Hamade, Faculty of Agriculture, Lebanese University

Paivi Miettunen, University of Helsinki
Mohammed Shunnaq, Yarmouk University
 
Rouba Mhaissen, Independent Researcher​
Osama Alaa Aldien, Independent Researcher
 
Ramzi Fathallah, Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut

Research report​: Shadows to light: Syrian refugee entrepreneurs in Jordan’s informal economy
Ramzi Fathallah, Suliman S. Olayan School of Business, American University of Beirut

Nabil Abdo, Independent Researcher
Rabih Jamil, Independent Researcher​

Special thanks to the project advisory committee, consisting of local and regional experts from among civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, research centers, and universities, for their time and feedback throughout the project. Their input was invaluable for the overall project design and implementation, as well as to the development of the individual case studies. 

*The views expressed in these reports are solely those of the authors, and do not reflect the views of the Ford Foundation, the Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs, or the American University of Beirut.*

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