Social capital's role in humanitarian crises




Journal Title

Journal ISSN


Volume Title


Oxford Academic



Peer reviewed



The growing scale and persistence of humanitarian crises constitute a critical problem for nation-states, aid organizations, and crisis-affected people around the world. Many in the fields of disaster response and humanitarian aid continue to focus on material aid, providing essential supplies and services during these crises, followed by restoration of physical infrastructure. We believe decision-makers and aid workers are overlooking the pivotal nature of horizontal and vertical ties within and between communities. Using qualitative and quantitative data from Uganda and Nigeria we show how social capital matters even during the most severe humanitarian crises. Through interviews and regression analyses based on survey data, we find that deeper reservoirs of bridging social capital are significantly associated with the preparedness of individuals affected by the terror group Boko Haram in Nigeria and that bonding and linking social capital are correlated to positive resilience outcomes for individuals affected by foodinsecurity stresses in the Karamoja region of Uganda. Our paper brings a number of concrete policy recommendations for aid agencies, decision-makers, and residents alike, especially for agencies willing to invest in building social infrastructure in affected or vulnerable populations


The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.


Social capital, Humanitarian aid, Disaster response, Africa, Boko Haram


Aldrich, D., Kolade, O., McMahon, K., Smith, R., (2020). Social capital's role in humanitarian crises. Journal of Refugee Studies, 34 (2), pp. 1787-1809


Research Institute

Institute for Applied Economics and Social Value (IAESV)