This project is no longer supported by CEDIL due to UK aid cuts during COVID-19.

Governance within forcibly displaced communities: evidence from Rohingya refugee camps

Programme of work

Enhancing evidence transferability

Principal investigator(s)

Imran Matin

Host institution

BRAC Institute of Governance and Development

Other institutions

Harvard University


May 2020 to April 2021 (TBC)

Project type

Exploratory project



Research question

This project is centred on local governance and service delivery in the context of forcibly displaced populations. It will focus on institutions – both formal and informal – which govern the distribution of aid among Rohingya households in refugee camps in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. In this setting of scarce resources, valuable work opportunities and other benefits must often be allocated to only a minority of the population. 

The study will examine the following questions:

  1. How do newly formed communities choose the rules by which they make allocative decisions, select and monitor their leaders, and resolve disputes?
  2. How do these informal institutions interact with formal systems for service delivery and camp management put in place by humanitarian actors? 

Research design

The research will combine household survey data over 200 blocks with administrative data generated by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) working in the camps. Machine learning algorithms will be used to analyse variation across blocks and predict the quality of governance. The research will also focus on the development of appropriate measurement tools for sensitive questions.

Data source

Primary collected qualitative household survey data and administrative data from NGOs

Policy relevance

Developing a better understanding of the current forms of community leadership and collective action within the Rohingya camp communities is a key first step to understanding what kinds of reforms could prove effective. Knowledge generated by the project could directly inform the design of future interventions and their evaluation.