Livelihood, security, and access to services among urban refugees in Delhi

GIS students from Stanford University conduct spatial analysis of profiling data


In the second half of 2013, JIPS collaborated on a research project with students from Stanford University, conducting spatial analysis of geo-referenced data collected during the urban profiling exercise in Delhi. The data was gathered in early 2013, as part of the study conducted in Delhi by JIPS, UNHCR and the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University analysing refugees’ living situations.


Delhi urban profiling study

The aim of the profiling study was to draw comparisons between the experiences of different refugee groups and those of Indian nationals living in the same neighbourhoods. As part of the study, 1,063 households were surveyed, including refugees from Afghanistan, Myanmar, and Somalia as well as Indian citizens.

Survey respondents were asked about their experiences in Delhi – questions particularly focused on four key components of livelihoods: employment security, housing security, financial security, and physical safety. Analysis suggested that urban refugees in Delhi face greater challenges than their Indian neighbors due to discrimination, but that refugee experiences may also differ according to country of origin.


Spatial analysis project

The goal of the Stanford students` research project was to add spatial analysis capabilities in order to better identify and understand geographic patterns related to refugee security. A Livelihood Index score was calculated for each household, based on responses covering the four key components of livelihoods. This enabled to carry out a spatial analysis of the distribution of households with high living standards (scoring high in the Livelihood Index) and low living standards (scoring low) with respect to one another, ethnicity, and proximity to public services.

Results from the spatial analysis suggested that proximity to services did not significantly correlate with higher living standard, suggesting that physical distance to services may not be the most important barrier for urban refugees. Finances, lack of mobility, or discrimination may play more significant roles in living standards.

Stand-alone elements of the Livelihood Index (employment security, housing security, financial security, and physical safety) may be a better way of analysing the importance of physical access to services.  Significant results were for example observed when comparing the safety element of the index to the level of proximity to police stations. In fact, refugees who live closer to police stations reported higher perceptions of safety and lower rates of assault.

The study also included recommendations for future spatial analysis based on the dataset from the profiling exercise in Delhi, suggesting further developments of UNHCR’s work in this area and ways to enhance understanding of urban refugee situations in Delhi.


The final report “Livelihood, Security, and Access to Services among Urban Refugees in Delhi, India” is available to download on this page. The interactive version of the study is available here.