Introduction of country context
- This Rwanda case study report is part of the global evaluation of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) livelihood strategy. The centralized evaluation was commissioned by the UNHCR Evaluation Service and independently conducted by Technical Assistance to NonGovernmental Organizations (TANGO) International. The overarching purpose of this evaluation is to gather strategic and timely evidence on the effectiveness of refugee livelihoods programming from 2014-2018. The evaluation will inform organizational strategy and practice within and external to UNHCR, aiming to improve the economic inclusion of refugees and other persons of concern (PoC). See the full evaluation report for the overall findings and recommendations.
- Rwanda represents a context with a large population of camp-based refugees along with urban-based refugees who have chosen to settle outside of the camps, primarily Kigali. It was selected as a ‘deep dive’ case study because of its high achievement across UNHCR indicators and high average Minimum Criteria Compliance Assessment (MCCA) scores (FY15-17). Rwanda is a country operation that reports on at least three ‘impact indicators’ under the Rights Group, including indicators under: fair protection processes and documentation, and security of refugees from violence and exploitation (but not: a favourable protection environment).
- Social, political, and economic context: Since the 1994 genocide, Rwanda has been politically stable and has made good progress toward development goals. In August 2017, President Paul Kagame was elected to a third seven-year term in office. Rwanda met most Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015. Rwanda enjoys strong economic growth, with gross domestic productgrowth forecast above the global rate in 2018. A growing number of social enterprises and organizations afford refugees opportunities to engage in livelihoods with low risk of exploitation. Refugee integration is eased by similarities between refugees’ and Rwandans’ socio-economic backgrounds (e.g., language, history of displacement).
- Country-specific refugee policies and legal frameworks: The Government of Rwanda is a signatory to multiple international refugee agreements. Rwanda’s supportive enabling environment allows refugees to work and engage in other activities to integrate into the local economy such as traveling within the country, establishing businesses, paying taxes, and creating jobs. Further, the Government of Rwanda committed in 2016 to integrate refugees into national health insurance, education, and documentation systems. As of early 2018, the Government of Rwanda is following the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). The Government of Rwanda is currently establishing its key priorities to deliver on the CRRF approaches, along with an inter-governmental facilitation mechanism to coordinate the roll-out. UNHCR co-leads and coordinates the interagency refugee response in Rwanda with the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugees (MIDIMAR). In 2016, MIDIMAR and UNHCR formally agreed to work together on a livelihoods strategy.
- Refugee context: As of August 2018, Rwanda was hosting approximately 150,821 refugees, 53 percent of whom are from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); 47 per cent are from Burundi; and less than one per cent are from other countries. Refugees are registered in 11 locations (i.e., camps, reception centres, and urban areas); refugees from Burundi are housed in Mahama camp while Congolese refugees reside in the other camps. Refugees live dispersed around the country, with the largest numbers, as of December 2016, in Mahama camp (over 57,000) and Kigali (nearly 12,000). The Burundi refugee population is expected to grow slightly (4 per cent) in 2018-2019; the long-term Congolese refugee population has been fairly stable since the most recent influx in 2012-2013.
- Livelihoods programme background: In response to the UNHCR Global Strategy for Livelihoods,
UNHCR Rwanda began assessing the potential for livelihood activities in 2014. The livelihoods budget has increased from about US$ 16,000 in 2015 to over US$ 546,000 to target 800 beneficiaries in 2018. The Joint Strategy by Government and UNHCR on Economic Inclusion of Refugees in Rwanda (2016-2020) focuses on three main pillars: (i) wage-earning employment, (ii) selfemployment, and (iii) advocacy to improve Rwanda’s enabling environment for refugee self-reliance. UNHCR Rwanda has worked with a range of livelihoods partners, including traditional nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). Under the current strategy UNHCR began a shift in 2014 towards working primarily with social enterprises and private sector partners with experience in business, entrepreneurship, and financial services.