Social capital of liberian refugee women in Ghana
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This study examined the role and impact of types of social relationships or social capital on the well-being of Liberian refugee women, a vulnerable population, at the Buduburam camp/settlement in Ghana. The mixed methods design used was the Concurrent Triangulation Strategy (Creswell, 2003). The analysis combined quantitative data from the Integrated Questionnaire for the Measurement of Social Capital (SC-IQ) (Grootaert, Narayan, Jones & Woolcock, 2003), and qualitative evidence, from documents, one-on-one interviews, a focus group session, and photographs of the study setting. Questions that guided this research were: 1) What are the social capital resources and strategies that the refugee women use in securing and enhancing their livelihood? 2) What legal, socio-economic conditions, and collective identity constructs inform the livelihood of the Liberian refugee women? 3) What current Ghana government, UNHCR, Non-governmental, International Organizations’ practices empower versus oppress women in the camp? 4) How can the needs of the Liberian refugee women be better addressed by the stakeholders involved? The evidence presented in this study reveals that social capital is a low-level asset among the sample population. Though the women have some form of bonding social capital (relatively homogenous relations), they possess very little bridging (distant relations), and non-existent linking (connections to people in power) social capital. Bonding ties are needed to give a community identity and common purpose. Notably however, it is the extent to which people can call upon different types of bonding, bridging, and linking social capital that shapes their well-being. The Liberian refugee women studied in this study, and other refugee women, may benefit from policies and programs that seek to strengthen existing social capital, and also seek to create new social capital. Implications for social work practice are discussed.
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