The success of a refugee city depends on how well it is implemented from the beginning. We think Refugee Cities could take the following steps to ensure a strong start:
- A supportive country hosting refugees develops national legislation that allows for
(i) the formation of refugee cities
(ii) the basic institutional and regulatory framework for the cities
(iii) the streamlined and expedited issuance of work and residence permits to refugees, valid only within the refugee cities
2. An experienced firm completes robust feasibility studies of optimal areas for the development of the cities, including:
(i) market demand assessments
(ii) environmental and social impact assessments and mitigation strategies
(iii) an assessment of the skill sets of refugees likely to live in the refugee cities
3. An experienced infrastructure development company acquires title or a long-term lease to land and builds the basic infrastructure upon which to build the settlement, including roads, electricity connections (and power generation plants if necessary), water, sewage, etc.
4. The development company provides or contracts with third party organizations to provide, utilities and services to the settlement, including: worker skills training, education for children, access to health care, garbage collection, business support services, start up incubation facilities, childcare, security, and the like.
5. International and domestic businesses establish facilities on site and employ both refugees and nationals from the surrounding communities.
6. Stakeholders encourage the development of refugee-owned businesses through angel investment, grants, or other support mechanisms to entrepreneurs.
7. The development company operates on a cost-recovery model, seeking a long-term return on investment through collecting rent and fees for services from businesses and residents. Through assistance from donor organizations, rent and service fees may be subsidized for refugees and refugee-owned businesses who don’t have the ability to pay. This should be designed so the development company has a strong incentive to enable refugees to quickly increase their incomes so they are more quickly able to pay close-to-market rates.
8. Refugees would be free to choose between refugee camps, refugee cities, or any other options they might have.