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Overcoming protracted displacement: Criteria for development programmes in protracted displacement

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Release date: 2019-10

In BICC Policy Brief 9\2019 the author Ruth Vollmer gives the following recommendations:

\ Make people’s agency the starting point of livelihood support

The support provided to people in protracted displacement by development actors needs to be  based on a thorough understanding of their existing  livelihood strategies since these are an expression of  their agency and encompass capabilities, (socio-cultural)  preferences and networks as well as the needs and obstacles they face. These, together with the skills and expertise of members of the target group, need to  be carefully documented and analysed through participatory methods before the start of any project or  programme.  

\ Do-no-harm by way of a thorough contextualisation of any project

People in protracted displacement pursue their livelihood strategies in and through complex social  interactions, which are a crucial formative condition of  their livelihood options. The delicate balance of social relations, especially in displacement contexts, can easily  be off-set by external factors including development  projects, for example if these are perceived to benefit  some people more than others. Development interventions should, therefore, consider the social but also the  generally relevant context to achieve a lasting effect and  to prevent unintended harmful effects. 

\ Ensure sustainability by participation

Participation and ownership by well-trusted local partners as well as participation by the target groups  are both vital to ensure a sustainable impact of the  project. Not only state actors (both on national and  sub-national levels), but also civilian non-state actors  should be considered as implementing partners. Training, capacity-building and inclusion, i.e. consulting  or employing people and institutions that will take  over the work started by the project should be prioritised from the very beginning.