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Evaluation of UNHCR's Livelihoods Strategies and Approaches (2014-2018) - Global Report, December 2018

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Executive Summary

Background and methods

Purpose. The purpose of this evaluation is to gather strategic and timely evidence on the effectiveness of refugee livelihoods programming from 2014-2018. This evaluation will inform and influence the organizational strategy and practice within UNHCR and external to UNHCR through partners, ultimately, with the aim to improve the economic inclusion of refugees and other people of concern (PoC). The evaluation also serves a dual purpose for learning and accountability within the organization, commissioned by the UNHCR Evaluation Service as a centralized evaluation as per the 2016 Evaluation Policy. To accomplish this objective, Technical Assistance to Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO) International, selected through a competitive bid, conducted an independent, theory-based evaluation of the global livelihoods portfolio.

The intended users of this evaluation are the UNHCR Senior Executive Team, the Livelihoods and Economic Inclusion Unit, the Division of Resilience and Solutions (DRS), Regional Bureaux, Country Offices (COs), and their partners. The secondary audience includes other humanitarian and development actors working in refugee contexts.

This evaluation is timely given the international discourse around the New York Declaration for Refugees and Migrants and the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR), with the corresponding Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF), and the New Way of Working- Humanitarian-Development nexus. The evaluation has corporate significance with UNHCR undertaking organizational change processes such as the multi-year/multi-partner (MYMP) approach and seeking to better position itself as a strategic partner and advocate on refugee livelihoods. It is of particular importance for UNHCR internally with the forthcoming 2019-2023 Global Strategy and the Livelihoods & Economic Inclusion Concept Note, and with changes and shifts underway related to livelihoods. Some of these changes include the DRS established at UNHCR headquarters (HQ), the shift toward an “economic inclusion” and market-based approach in the livelihoods guidance, and review and revision of the standards in place since 2015 through the Minimum Criteria (MC) for Livelihoods Programming. In 2018, the total global livelihoods budget was US$ 70.7million with programmes in 75 countries. The most common UNHCR livelihood interventions include: vocational training, agricultural interventions, and artisan livelihood opportunities.

The three key evaluation questions (KEQ) include:

  • KEQ 1: How effective are UNHCR-funded livelihood interventions in reducing protection risks, strengthening resilience, and improving employment, income and/or savings levels of targeted persons of concern?

  • KEQ 2: To what extent is there a positive correlation between desired livelihoods programme outcomes and high adherence to UNHCR’s Minimum Criteria for Livelihoods Programming standards?

  • KEQ 3: What are the different roles UNHCR has played in livelihoods programming? What has worked well in such roles and what are some constraints? What are lessons learned to inform the next iteration of the livelihoods strategy going forward?