Destination Substitution and Social Networks among Urban Refugees in Kampala, Uganda

Keywords: social networks; change; destination; refugees; Kampala


A significant number of refugees and asylum seekers live in Kampala as opposed to the rural settlement areas. However, what is less known is the extent of destination substitution among these refugees and factors associated with changes in destination. Using a survey of 479 refugees from eight nationalities, this study examined the influences of social networks on destination substitution among refugees in Kampala. It was found that more than half of the refugees substituted their initially intended destination with Kampala.  Refugees with social network ties in Kampala are likely to substitute their preferred destination for Kampala compared to those who do not have social network ties in Kampala. The study contributes to the literature on destination choices and social networks by showing that the refugees have destination preferences, but these preferences can be constrained by prevailing circumstances. Facilitated by social networks with alternative destinations, refugees may substitute their preferred destinations with a proxy destination in cities in neighboring countries.