BRIEF December 6, 2018

14 Countries Now Eligible for IDA Financing to Support Refugees and Hosts

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Milena Stefanova/ World Bank


The World Bank’s support for low-income countries hosting large numbers of refugees has now reached a total of 14 countries, under the 18th replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA18)—the Bank’s fund for the poorest. Many governments are embarking on reforms to adopt more inclusive approaches to refugees and host communities, and access to new financing presents an opportunity for them to translate these ideas into actual policies that can make a difference on the ground.

During the IDA18 period (July 1, 2017-June 30, 2020), $2 billion was made available to help host countries manage protracted crises with longer term solutions. Five countries—Burundi, Burkina Faso, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mauritania, and Rwanda—have become eligible for assistance in November 2018, in addition to Cameroon, Chad, Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Niger, Pakistan, and Uganda (September 2017) and Bangladesh (June 2018).

Through this financing, countries are reviewing policies and implementing programs that help refugees to become more self-reliant. Host communities will also benefit from development projects that will support services such as education and healthcare. As of November 2018, 12 operations have been approved in 7 countries totaling US$572 million.

For example, in Cameroon, support from IDA18 is helping to improve access to health care and education for refugees and hosts, and to include the most vulnerable households in social safety nets. Municipal development plans are being developed jointly by host communities and refugees, and small public works are bringing improvements for host communities and refugees alike.

In Ethiopia, the Economic Opportunities Program will help to create an environment that will increase investment and jobs for refugees and Ethiopians. Host communities will benefit from improved public employment services to assist them in their jobs search. The program also promotes refugees’ self-reliance through wage-earning employment, self-employment and the right to engage in commercial activities.

To be eligible for this financing, IDA countries need to (1) host at least 25,000 refugees, or refugees must account for at least 0.1 percent of its population; (2) have an adequate framework for the protection of refugees; and (3) have an action plan or strategy with concrete steps, including possible policy reforms for long-term solutions that benefit refugees and host communities.

The World Bank is working with governments to prepare projects and deliver solutions that best meet their needs. Although the circumstances in each country are different, some common approaches are emerging. Overall, interventions aim to make a shift from crisis response to managing risks; support host communities and lagging regions; move towards social and economic inclusion; and take regional and country-level approaches.

Creating jobs and working with the private sector is a key focus. Gender is another important area, as women face increased risk of rape, violence, and forced conscription as refugees. Since about half of refugees are children, education is also a priority, not only to support each individual child’s development but to rebuild and stabilize their home countries in the future.

As refugee crises increase in scale and complexity, the plight of forcibly displaced people and their hosts presents significant challenges in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the Bank’s twin goals to end extreme poverty and promote shared prosperity. Given that 85% of refugees live in developing countries, with displacement spanning many years, development programs that address the social and economic dimensions of these crises are urgently needed to complement a humanitarian response.

Preparations have been undertaken in close coordination with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and other partners to ensure a coordinated humanitarian-development approach.

With the addition of five more host countries this month that can access financing, the Bank will continue to work with governments and partners so that both refugees and host communities can thrive.