top of page

What is refugee self-reliance and why is it so important?

Learn everything here


According to the U.N., an unprecedented 70.8 million people have been forcibly displaced worldwide. 25.9 million are refugees. Two-thirds of refugees live in “protracted situations”, which means they have been in exile for over 5 years living in a constant state of uncertainty waiting for resettlement. Even though their lives are most likely not at risk, refugees live in unbearable conditions without access to their basic rights. It is impossible for them to satisfy their economic, social and psychological needs.
For several decades the approach has been what is called “care and maintenance” which means that refugees received humanitarian support until they could repatriate or resettle. However, in the past few years there has been an increase in the number of refugees, the duration of the exile has increased, and the aid budgets have been exhausted. For that reason the notion of refugee self-reliance has become a widely recognized need. 
There are many nonprofit organizations that have programs focusing on refugee self-reliance. These programs are challenged by the scale of the problem. Bringing solutions to scale requires greater awareness of the problem and the solutions, with more civil society, the private sector, and governments being persuaded to act.

The approach

Self-reliance empowers refugees with means to support themselves and their families, allowing them to live with dignity and contribute to the social and economic fabric of their host countries, resettlement, or repatriation. It is the incorporation of the economic, social, and individual aspects in a safe, sustainable and dignified manner. A refugee’s well-being in the non-economic – and non-individualistic – components of living a fulfilling and meaningful life.
Income, employment, access to shelter, food, wash, education, health, community involvement, safety, legal status, and well-being.
There are eleven indicators to measure self-reliance.
Hover the image below to reveal them.

Refugee self-reliance

Community Involvement
Legal status

The power
of visual 

The power of visual storytelling

A lot of people ask us, why invest in our films rather than directly to the solution? The results of our first documentary “Hot Dogs on a Tricycle” can effectively answer this question. We spent approximately 30k producing this film and within 7 months after we released it to Asylum Access, our partner organization, they raised $124k for their empowerment programs. This means that for every $1 invested in making the film, Asylum Access received $4 in incremental funding. These results came from showing the film at Asylum Access’ events and sharing it with their support circle. Additionally, this film has received 2 awards and 4 notable mentions; Winner of an Award of Excellence by Impact Docs, Winner of an Award of Merit by Global Shorts, Official selection of the Berlin Short Film Festival, Official Selection of Respect Human Rights Film Festival, Official Selection of Best Shorts Competition and Official Selection of the Impact Docs Awards.  


By delivering a complete communication campaign powered by HOME Storytellers’ films, we believe we can elevate the impact ratio 10 to 1. Imagine how many lives could be touched and all because of the power of story. 
Refugees are amazing, resilient people.  If given the chance, they will thrive in their new homes. Mario’s story is a perfect example of the incredible contribution refugees can make to their communities.  We are grateful to HOME Storytellers for giving Mario this platform and showing the world that refugees should be supported and embraced.”
— Lisa D’Annunzio
Development Director, Asylum Access.
Subscribe to updates about our work 
Thanks for submitting!
  • Youtube
  • vimeo
  • Twitter_beige
  • facebook_beige
  • Linkedin_beige
  • Instagram_beige
Follow us
bottom of page