Sat, 06 Jun 2020


The Secretary-General's Agenda for Humanity and the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit focused the world's attention on the need to adopt a new approach to protracted crises, including addressing internal displacement and fostering durable solutions. In the context of the twentieth anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (GP20), the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) spearheaded a multi-stakeholder, three-year action plan to prevent and address internal displacement. The plan was designed to garner more international attention on the issue of internal displacement and to boost progress on internal displacement in specific countries, including through the dissemination and use of effective practices. The GP20 Plan of Action (2018-2020) proposes more joined up and strategic action across four areas: participation of internally displaced persons (IDPs); laws and policies on internal displacement; data on IDPs; and addressing protracted internal displacement and fostering durable solutions.

This paper aims to contribute to the reflection on effective practices to address protracted displacement, in support of the GP20 Plan of Action roll-out. It expands on the research conducted by Walter Kälin and Hannah Entwisle Chapuisat for the 2017 OCHA-commissioned study Breaking the Impasse: Reducing Protracted Internal Displacement as a Collective Outcome.1 That study provided a comprehensive picture of the impact of protracted internal displacement, as well as five country case studies in contexts of conflict and disasters.It also offered a road map for addressing such displacement through seven steps, including conducting joint analysis and defining collective outcomes.

The conclusions and recommendations in Breaking the Impasse were widely disseminated. A request from operational actors was to provide additional information on projects that effectively helped address protracted internal displacement and support solutions. This paper aims to respond to this request, by presenting examples of projects that enhanced humanitarian-development cooperation in order to reduce the vulnerabilities of IDPs and host communities and work towards durable solutions. Projects presented in this research have been either the object of internal evaluations or used by research organizations as case studies. Only projects that presented identified good practices are described in this report. Projects were selected to cover a variety of internal displacement situations - in Colombia, Haiti, Somalia, Sudan and Ukraine - with a primary focus on the improvement of the lives of IDPs, taking into account the needs of host communities, and covering issues such as education, training, livelihood support, housing and protection.

Through a detailed review, this paper identifies several elements as having contributed to the success and sustainability of projects in the context of protracted internal displacement. These elements include:

Humanitarian and development organizations have combined their respective expertise or relied on specific local knowledge for the project. Examples include UNHCR's focus on community engagement/protection combined with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for small business development in Colombia; UN-Habitat's experience in land and housing acquisition and construction together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) for farming support and the expertise of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) with youth in Sudan; and the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on education in Somalia together with the World Food Programme (WFP) and other international non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Projects often include local organizations to ensure detailed knowledge of the specific context and access to local actors, and to enable greater local ownership of the project. In Ukraine, for example, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) partnered with a local humanitarian NGO, Donbas SOS, to facilitate humanitarian assistance, while IOM focused on development initiatives. In Sudan, UN-Habitat enlisted the support of universities in the region to draft local urban plans.

The design of projects is flexible enough to adapt over time and respond to the evolving needs of IDPs. Some of the featured projects had not been originally designed to combine humanitarian and development elements but were adjusted over time to add such elements based on feedback from participants. For example, to ensure participation in the training part of Diriswanaag, a vocational training and livelihood project for IDPs in Somalia, CARE International added short-term food assistance. Such additions require creativity, the inclusion of extra partners in the project as well as donor flexibility.

Strong coordination with national and local authorities to enable Government ownership, as well as knowledge transfer, is built within the project's design. For example, an education/school feeding project by NRC and partners in Somalia included close cooperation with the Ministries of Education across 13 regions, improving the access of IDPs and other vulnerable groups to education and strengthening the quality of education. Another example is an IOM project in Ukraine that supported the Government to set up a unified registration system for IDPs through the provision of new equipment, software and training programmes. In Sudan UN-Habitat developed a close working relationship with national and local authorities, supporting their capacity in urban planning, and resulting in their approval of IDP resettlement plans and in local ownership of the project.

Projects take into account local business and market needs, identifying the need for specific skills or profitable products. Sustainable projects incorporating vocational training and livelihood components are aligned with market needs. This was the case of the pineapple production project of the Transitional Solutions Initiative in Colombia, which assessed that there was a need for the product and developed relationships with businesses to ensure continued demand for IDPs' skills and products. This was also the case of the Diriswanaag project in Somalia, where IDPs were trained in skills that were relevant to the local market, including by training IDPs from rural areas in skills useful for an urban environment.

Projects are tailored to the local environment, using an area-based approach that benefits IDPs and host communities and include them in project planning and implementation. While a highly tailored approach may be difficult to scale up or replicate, there does not seem to be any alternative in order to achieve success. The most successful projects were designed based on the priorities defined by IDPs and host communities, with the use of highly participatory methods. In the case of the Katye Community project, which involved rebuilding a neighbourhood destroyed during the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, both planning and implementation of the project were conducted mainly by IDPs and members of host communities. During the process, both groups had to compromise and find solutions that were acceptable to everyone, which ultimately increased overall project ownership and led to decreasing tensions between IDPs and host communities. Successful projects also took into account the needs of specific vulnerable groups, as was the case with two projects showcased in Sudan by the Cooperative Housing Foundation (CHF) and UN-Habitat, which were informed by the protection needs expressed by internally displaced women.

Projects in cities include strong urban planning elements to provide innovative housing solutions and ensure sustainability. In the Katye Community project in Haiti, local residents agreed to redraw their own property lines to allow for the redesign of access paths to improve circulation, leading to the improvement of public infrastructure. Some families also agreed to share innovative two-story transitional shelters, with one family per story, to make better use of available land. Also in Haiti, the Habitat for Humanity project improved the community's quality of life by implementing a comprehensive plan focused on upgrading the neighbourhood's infrastructure, services and housing. In Colombia, the Transitional Solutions Initiative led to the legalization of informal settlements in urban areas, allowing entire neighbourhoods to gain access to public services and leading in turn to urban integration.

Projects are part of wider strategies, supported through multi-year funding. This was the case of a Habitat for Humanity project on durable solutions for IDPs in Haiti, which was designed as part of a longer-term strategy, funded for several years ("Pathways to Permanence" strategy). Several donors have also adapted their funding frameworks in recent years to provide multi-year funding and to encourage humanitarian-development approaches in the context of protracted internal displacement. This report reviews frameworks by Denmark, the European Union and the United Kingdom, which show promise in providing strong incentives for organizations to adopt a more integrated approach to addressing protracted internal displacement and fostering solutions.

None of these projects defined collective outcomes from the outset or were part of broader collective outcomes. This can be explained by the fact that projects ran from 2002 to 2017 while the notion of contributing to common goals or outcomes was only defined in 2016 as part of the World Humanitarian Summit. In hindsight, it seems that projects could have benefited from having all actors agreeing to a common goal, with a measurable, quantifiable outcome, including for evaluation purposes. Still, the extent to which the featured organizations worked together to ensure an integrated humanitarian-development approach, even when they had not included such common overarching goals from the onset, was remarkable.

More Europe News

Access More

Sign up for Europe News

a daily newsletter full of things to discuss over drinks.and the great thing is that it's on the house!