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Resilience-building for Syrian refugee camps and the neighbouring host community



Project Description

Full Title: Resilience-building for Syrian refugee camps and the neighbouring host community
Lead Fellow: Roger Guiu & Lahib Higel
Project in Brief: This project evaluates the feasibility of transforming the refugee camps and neighbouring towns into resilient communities. In essence, this involves building interventions to address the gaps between the current livelihoods situation and the targeted resilience indicators.
Term: April - May 2015
Most Recent: Publications and Events


Context and Rationale

Since the onset of the conflict in Syrian in 2013, over 240,000 refugees have been seeking shelter in Iraq, mainly in the Kurdistan Region. Of these, around 40% are accommodated in camps around the main urban areas. After three years of humanitarian crisis, the basic thrust of the recent Regional Refugee and Resilience Plan (3RP) is to move from providing humanitarian assistance to:

>> Supporting longer term self-reliance among the refugees and host community;
>> Strengthening the public goods provision that has been affected due to the crisis.

In essence, a resilience-based response aims to build the resilience of individuals, communities, sectors and national systems to enable them to better cope, adapt and recover from negative shocks. Hence, the ultimate goal of the resilience approach is to eliminate dependence on external aid and support communities and people’s own ability to achieve their livelihood expectations.

Internal factors of the crisis in Iraq as well as external factors are reinforcing the push for a shift from a pure humanitarian response to a more nuanced development-oriented response. These factors are mainly summarised as (i) diminishing aid funds from the donors and the international community; (ii) expected protracted stay of the refugees in Iraq; and (iii) lack of a solid financial basis of the KRG to match the humanitarian support that refugees are receiving currently.

UNDP and UNHCR have been endorsing and leading this new approach. The first step is to promote a transformation of refugee camps towards self-sustainable settlements during the extended period of inhabitancy by refugees, accompanied by a strengthening of the capabilities of their neighbouring host community.

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Project Development

The primary aim of the research is to evaluate the feasibility of transforming the refugee camps and neighbouring towns into resilient communities. In essence, this involves building interventions to address the gaps between the current livelihoods situation and the targeted resilience indicators.

This resilience approach is piloted in four specific locations, which form the scope of the project:

  • Domiz camp and the host community formed by the districts of Sumel and Duhok;
  • Akre camp and the host community formed by the district of Akre;
  • Qushtapa camp and the host community formed by the district of Dashti Hewler;
  • Arbat camp and the host community formed by the districts of Sharazur and Darbandikhan.

The project’s outcomes are built on the following pillars:

>> Evaluation of the livelihoods baseline and the impacts of the crisis on it for both the host and the refugee communities. Through reviewing existing pre-crisis and post-crisis data available, the aim is to map a baseline of the assets that people possess, the livelihoods strategies they undertake and the public services and policies that affect them. To complete the evidence base on livelihoods, the project also includes a fieldwork consisting on qualitative and quantitative research. In particular, focus groups are undertaken within the refugee community to better understand how their livelihoods may be limited under current context and how to best transition towards a more resilient setting. Quantitative assessments through field surveys in the camps and neighbouring districts aim to fill any data gap and generalise the perceptions from both communities on resilience development.

>> Understanding of the social and political consensus in the region. The vision of the host community and policy-makers needs to be assessed to guarantee the endorsement of a resilience-based approach. This consensus is evaluated through interviews with KRG policy-makers and other key informants involved in key livelihood components (employment, business development, housing, security, health, education, etc.). The aim is to understand how policy developments are affected by the humanitarian emergency and whether there are institutional barriers that would prevent the government to facilitate a resilient development for the displacement crisis.

>> Formulation of recommendations to base a resilient livelihoods programming. With the evidence gathered, the final step consists on identifying the priority needs at policy and ground level to transform the settlements and its neighbouring community to be more resilient and sustainable, including a costing for the recommended interventions. The results of the research create a baseline which can be used for programming by the international community and for policy reforms by the government.

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Project Funding

The research for this project has been commissioned and funded by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP – Iraq).

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Further Information

Publications and Events

Advancing the concept of resilient livelihoods for Syrian refugees
Learning lessons for a resilience-based development response to the Syrian refugee crisis
With decreasing humanitarian aid, more development must come for refugees and hosts in Kurdistan

For more information please contact us at info[AT]meri-k.org