Disrupted Aid, Displaced Lives: Unraveling the Impact of Refugee Funding Cuts through a Regression Discontinuity Study in Uganda

In collaboration with UNHCR, the project seeks to examine the ramifications of a substantial decrease in support for refugees. In the summer of 2023, UNHCR and the World Food Programme made adjustments to their longstanding refugee assistance policy in Uganda, the largest hosting country in Africa, resulting in reduced unconditional cash and in-kind transfers for 1.5 million refugees. This shift involves the allocation of resources based on a vulnerability assessment, with the most vulnerable 14% of households receiving 60% of their previous aid, while the remaining 82% receive only 30%.

The proposed methodology utilizes a regression discontinuity design to survey households situated just above and below the vulnerability threshold. Through this approach, the project aims to identify the causal effects of aid cuts on refugees’ well-being and their adaptation strategies to changed circumstances. Given the potential for similar budgetary constraints in other refugee-hosting contexts, the study not only provides insights into the impacts of funding withdrawal but also contributes to the broader literature on the effectiveness of cash transfer programs.