06 December 2019

Internal displacement costs Africa $4 billion every year

The first estimates of the economic impact of internal displacement on sub-Saharan African countries have been unveiled today in a new report by the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).

The financial impact for the region is estimated at $4 billion a year. At the national level, the average annual losses vary from $21 million in the Republic of the Congo, to $755 million in Sudan - a significant burden for already struggling economies. The figure for the Central African Republic, $230 million, represents 11 per cent of the country’s pre-crisis GDP.

Sub-Saharan Africa has been more heavily affected by internal displacement associated with conflict and violence than any other region in the world over the past decade. It accounted for nearly 70 per cent of the global total, or 7.5 million displacements, in 2018. The region also suffered record-breaking levels of displacement linked to drought and floods in 2018, with 2.6 million recorded.

“The devastating impacts of this on people’s safety and wellbeing are already clear; but what we are only just beginning to understand are the long-term economic consequences for individuals, host communities, governments and societies as a whole,” said IDMC’s director, Alexandra Bilak.

Researchers measured the costs and losses of the most direct consequences of internal displacement on health, shelter, education, security and livelihoods. This methodology was applied to 13 sub-Saharan African countries which have recently suffered displacement as a result of conflict, violence, or disasters, and for which data was available.

Boko Haram’s 10-year insurgency in Nigeria has led to unprecedented displacement in the north-east of the country, with an average annual cost estimated at $462 million. Displacement in both Ethiopia and Somalia during the research period was also linked with climate-related hazards, such as drought and floods, which had a significant impact on livelihoods and food security. High levels of projected displacement and limited fiscal resources mean countries in the Sahel and eastern Africa are the least likely to be able to cope with the costs and losses associated with displacement in the coming years.

“This research highlights the far-reaching consequences of forced displacement on future generations. We must stop thinking of internal displacement solely as a humanitarian issue, and build prevention and response into national development plans,” said Alexandra Bilak.

IDMC first published estimates on the annual economic costs of internal displacement at the global level in February 2019. Based on data from eight countries located in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Europe which had recently suffered significant displacement crises, it put the global figure at $13 billion. In both reports, estimates do not account for long-term or indirect consequences of internal displacement, nor the impact on host communities, so they should be considered underestimates.



The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is the world's authoritative source of data and analysis on internal displacement. Since its establishment in 1998, as part of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), IDMC has offered a rigorous, independent and trusted service to the international community. Our work informs policy and operational decisions that improve the lives of the millions of people living in internal displacement, or at risk of becoming displaced in the future.

Download the report here: Unveiling the cost of internal displacement in Africa 

For interviews please contact:

Frankie Parrish, IDMC
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