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Review of durable solutions initiatives in East and Horn of Africa: Good practices, challenges and opportunities in the search of durable solutions

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On the displacement crises in the East and Horn of Africa. 11.7 million people were displaced in the region at the end of February 2016, mostly in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia and Ethiopia.1 Displacement results from a combination of conflicts, climatic and development shocks driven by “poor governance, environmental degradation, food insecurity, and lack of economic opportunities”.2 If the challenge is as much structural as crisis-related, can there be a common response? Is there a common understanding on durable solutions by key actors? This report focuses on the response to forced displacement in four countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, and Uganda, and on regional learning.

On a solutions system. All stakeholders interviewed for this review in the region agree that 1) the lack of a common system, 2) unclear coordination, and 3) the missing evidence base, are key structural challenges to finding durable solutions. Over the last decade, stakeholders at the country, regional and global levels have been seeking to unlock solutions through new initiatives and ideas – all of which have been detailed in this report. These initiatives provide fertile ground from which to learn and build a more comprehensive and collaborative agenda in the search for durable solutions in the region. Rather than a lack of vision on durable solutions, there are many visions carried out without a common agenda for coordination and learning. This report explores the junctures at which these initiatives have come together or in some cases, have failed to do so, providing opportunities and entry-points into an actual durable solutions system. The nature and scale of displacement in the region requires attention from all sides, including civil society, private sector and development actors, beyond just humanitarian actors. Global discussions on partnerships, financing and local solutions remind us of the need to learn from concrete examples.

What this report does. This report asks: Is it possible to aim for a strengthened durable solutions system in the East and Horn of Africa? The key drivers of solutions are analyzed based on past programmes, including lessons learnt in order to form the building blocks for future solutions and to unlock barriers to solutions in protracted situations.

The Solutions Unit of UNHCR Geneva is planning a “Solutions Library” to consolidate a database of initiatives on Durable Solutions, a step in the right direction. This review provides evidence from a rapidly evolving East African context to feed into the learning on solutions. It argues for the creation of stronger synergies and a learning agenda. If one consensus emerges from all interviews, it is the need to build evidence from communities up, to inform durable solutions as a process to be taken forward gradually, through best practices, lessons learned, and collective thinking.