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Improving refugee settlement outcomes

29 June 20200 comments

Entrenching a monitoring and evaluation process into refugee settlement programs could improve their sustainability and result in better integration and cohesion outcomes, a new study has found.

The study by the Brussels-based  Migration Policy Institute Europe says that to ensure the sustainability of long-running and new resettlement programs alike, it is essential for policymakers and resettlement program designers to take stock of lessons learned and be able to demonstrate the value of these activities.

The report, titled ‘Using Evidence to Improve Refugee Resettlement: A monitoring and evaluation road map’, describes monitoring and evaluation (M&E) as the missing link.

While many resettlement systems lack a strong M&E culture, the report’s authors note that development of M&E practices can help in the assessment of a resettlement program’s potential to fulfil its strategic and operational objectives.

“Monitoring and evaluation can also improve understanding of obstacles – both in defining them and learning how to overcome them – and lead to better outcomes for refugees and communities in countries of resettlement and first asylum, the researchers say.

They say that as displacement has risen to new highs in recent years, there has been a flurry of activity around refugee resettlement, with a number of countries around the world launching resettlement programs for the first time or scaling up existing efforts.

Within the European Union, resettlement has become a bigger priority and could take on even greater importance with a New Pact on Migration and Asylum on the horizon later this year.

“In recent years, as resettlement authorities in many countries have raced to set up or expand programs, there has been limited bandwidth for M&E activities,” the report says.

“The current slowdown in international protection operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a window for policymakers, program designers and evaluation teams to elevate M&E from an afterthought to centre stage.”

The report makes the case that monitoring and evaluation can help improve resettlement systems in three key ways.

Firstly, in tracking progress on objectives. “Developing an M&E system gives resettlement actors the valuable opportunity to map out their (common) objectives and then evidence of the degree to which these are being met and the effects on refugee integration outcomes,” the report says.

Secondly, in supporting continuous learning and improvement. “An M&E framework can help track lessons learned more systematically, allowing officials to adjust programs where there are opportunities to do better or at the earliest signs of distress,” the report says.

“For example, as more countries establish pre-departure orientation programs to prepare refugees for life after resettlement, it is important to test whether and which models have an actual impact on refugees’ settlement and integration,” it says.

Thirdly, the report says monitoring and evaluation can achieve value for money.

M&E systems can enable resettlement actors to track the resources allocated at each phase of the program and compare the cost-effectiveness of different models. This information can help inform decisions on future funding allocations and can indicate what is possible at different levels of investment,” it says.

The report offers a road map for creating or strengthening M&E frameworks, including first identifying M&E champions, mapping out what information is needed, taking stock of existing data collection tools to think creatively about how they could be redeployed and determining which research methods can collect the desired information.

“With many different approaches to resettlement having sprung up across the globe, more in-depth research is needed to answer questions about whether any of the myriad models are more effective than others—and what works when, where and why,” the report says.

“This knowledge will help countries optimize their programs and adapt more quickly to new challenges and opportunities,” it says.

Read the full report here: