Making Displacement Safer Cookbook

Key ingredients

It is recommended that recipes to address displacement include the following ingredients: 

  1. Strengthen community
  2. Be a catalyst for displaced people to access their rights
  3. Commit government authorities and leaders to action
  4. Rebuild livelihoods and resilience

1. Strengthen community

Displaced people may have lost their community and social network. They may be settled with displaced people from other communities with whom they may not identify or with whom they are in conflict. It may be necessary to first build a sense of community by promoting dialogue among all displaced people, ensuring the most marginalised are included. 

Displaced people may have settled within a host community or may be newcomers to an informal settlement in an urban area. Tension may arise between displaced people as new arrivals with whom resources should be shared and the people already living in the area (who may or may not consider themselves a host community). 

How CSOs can strengthen a community:

a. Foster community cohesion among displaced people

Displaced people require opportunities to discuss their needs, capacities and interests with other displaced people. It is critical to ensure the participation of women, youth, older adults, people living with disabilities, and marginalised individuals, as displacement affects people differently and exacerbates vulnerabilities. The identification of leaders in the displaced community, as spokespersons of the community’s needs, promotes ownership for decisions and community support.

b. Promote integration within host community or in new settlement

To promote integration, displaced people and the host community and/or those who settled earlier need spaces to engage in dialogue. Examples of facilitating integration include providing host communities an opportunity to express concerns and identify their needs, ensuring that host communities also benefit from services to support displaced people, and facilitating a peace building and reconciliation initiative, if required, where populations in conflict live in the same area.

“At the beginning of the [MDS] project, we really didn’t have a sense of community and none of us even considered trying to influence public policies that affect our lives. I think it was because we didn’t realise the risks we face and that they could and should be managed. Through the project we organised ourselves and we women formed a committee to make decisions to improve our quality of life and to take responsibility for the environment in which we live. Some of the leaders emerged naturally, others were influential people in the community that we approached. We asked them to bring others to the meetings so we could agree on our priorities. It worked. We got organised and it caught the attention of the media. That helped to convince the local government and others to combine efforts to reduce landfill waste. I’m proud of the logo we designed for the community committee; it symbolises our unity within the community.”

Elena Alvaro, community member and president of the Circular Economy Committee, Masca, Honduras

2. Be a catalyst for displaced people to access their rights

The needs of displaced people are often not recognised by the host community, the local authorities or the legal system. Even when the government relocates people, they may not receive titles over the land or have access to services. Displaced people may need support to access the right to housing (in particular,women may need support to claim housing land and property rights), civil documentation, decent work/livelihoods, and access to basic goods and services such as healthcare, food, and education.

a. Tailor support to access services

The needs of men, women, youth, older people, people living with disabilities, and marginalised individuals differ, therefore they may require tailored support to access information, resources, and decision making mechanisms. For example, this may include providing assistance to parents to obtain replacement school documentation or diplomas for their children to rejoin the school system. 

b. Support advocacy to access rights

Displaced people may need support to organise as a community to collectively advocate for their rights. Effective support can include media campaigns to help displaced people’s voices be heard.

3. Commit government authorities and leaders to action

Government authorities have the responsibility to prevent displacement and to take action to ensure displaced people find durable solutions. However, capacity and resources to meet their responsibilities are often insufficient at the local level. To promote commitment, pool resources and encourage authorities to prioritise displaced people’s needs, they should be engaged as early as possible in dialogue. Community leaders and locally active CSOs can be helpful in convening the displaced community, building trust and promoting community advocacy with government authorities. 

Relevant actions include:

a. Partner on service and programme delivery

For greater effectiveness in addressing the needs of displaced  people, it is useful to coordinate services and programming with the relevant government authorities, CSOs and others. A coordinated approach can help make the most of limited funding. A first step may be to map stakeholders, then facilitate discussion with them to understand mandates and to agree on areas for collaboration to harness synergies and avoid gaps in service provision.

b. Co-develop a civic engagement platform with government authorities and displaced people

It is important for displaced people and government authorities to jointly develop processes to discuss immediate and long-term needs and constraints, as well as to address displacement risk drivers. CSOs can support the development of a platform to promote displaced people’s role in decision making. Government involvement is key to ensure that objectives can be achieved or sustained beyond a project’s implementation period through continued funding and institutionalisation. A mechanism needs to be in place to ensure policies are transferred/translated into actions and to then sustain those actions.

c. Promote data collection and monitor advocacy, accountability and evidence-based programming

Data on displaced people’s needs, challenges and wellbeing over time is required for advocacy and to evaluate interventions by external actors. Government authorities and other actors should be transparent in their activity implementation and budget allocation within the community. As displaced populations may be suspicious of government data collection, government actors should work with the community to provide assurance that the information collected aims to benefit the community and respond to their needs. Participatory monitoring will allow the community to provide input into the process and ensure that the stated outcomes are experienced within the community. Lived experience and data captured in displacement contexts should also inform decision making, policy and programming.

“Before starting anti-erosion activities by terracing the hillsides of the Gisasa community, the erosion caused catastrophes such as house destruction and land wipeouts. My crops were washed down to the river by runoff from the hills. The same runoff used to come with high velocity destroying everything including my house too and roads; all these problems caused hunger, displacement of people and basic services issues. Nowadays, that issue is addressed – digging trenches has helped to intercept all the runoff from the hill.”

Frank Rusine, living in Kigali, Rwanda

4. Rebuild livelihoods and resilience

Ingredients to support displaced people to rebuild their livelihoods during displacement and to avoid being displaced again include:

a. Strengthen skills for employment and entrepreneurship

This can be accomplished through capacity strengthening workshops based on the needs and wishes of the community. Building skills can contribute to long-term, sustainable livelihood opportunities. 

b. Co-develop locally relevant income-generating activities

This will not only ensure ownership among community members and enhance viability and sustainability of prioritised activities, but will also provide an opportunity for the community to identify its strengths and areas of interest. 

c. Promote access to displacement risk reduction information and tools

This includes, for example: enabling early warning system access to displaced people in informal settlements; raising awareness of local risks; and engaging displaced people in preparedness to avoid a secondary displacement.

“I have really enjoyed working in the greenhouse every day to grow strawberries to raise the standard of living of my family. The strawberries have allowed me the means to provide food for my family. We worked as a family in the process of learning how to grow and pick the strawberries, and how to put them in the basket and planting the new runners in the greenhouse. We had a very good crop so I gave some of our strawberries to our neighbours. They were very appreciative and have since made me feel welcome here, which we hadn’t felt before.”

Waza, living in Mosul, Iraq

Project funded by

United States Agency for International Development

Our Making Displacement Safer project is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Content related to this project on our website was made possible by the support of the USAID. All content is the sole responsibility of GNDR and does not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID.

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