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Building Evidence on Forced Displacement


@UNHCR/Roger Arnold

The second pillar of Building the Evidence on Forced Displacement is Operational support, which financed impact evaluations of novel projects and interventions by the World Bank and UNHCR in forced displacement contexts.  

These evaluations rigorously measure the effectiveness of these projects and interventions with respect to their target outcomes, such as promoting income-generating activities for host communities and the forcibly displaced, improving health and educational outcomes, and building social cohesion, to cite a few. Rigorous measurement of program impact is critical to ensuring that resources are channeled to the most cost-effective projects.

The enduring impacts of a big push during multiple crises: Experimental evidence from Afghanistan


How do proven strategies to improve the economic conditions of ultra-poor households hold up against the increasing severity and co-incidence of economic, security, and climate shocks? Five years after receiving an economic livelihoods package, and shortly prior to the 2021 regime change, “ultra-poor” women in Afghanistan continued to have significantly higher levels of consumption, assets, market work participation, financial inclusion, psychological well-being and empowerment, and school enrollment for their children, relative to the control group. The results illustrate how an increasingly popular approach to improve the conditions of the very poor through a one-off “big push” intervention can strengthen household resilience through multiple shocks.    

Impact Evaluation Brief: Results from the POWER-J Socioemotional Skills Intervention Piloted in Public Schools in Jordan


Over the past decade, Jordan has made great efforts to improve access to quality education for all children in the country, including the more than 250,000 Syrian refugee children and youth of school age (UNHCR 2023). However, double shifts and overcrowded classrooms have fueled disruptive behavior in the classroom. This impact evaluation assesses the results of the POWER-J program, which aimed to promote a positive classroom culture and foster students’ growth mindset, emotion regulation, mindfulness, and teamwork. The intervention targeted 7th grade students in public schools.  

Impact Evaluations in Forced Displacement Contexts: A Guide for Practitioners

This paper introduces impact evaluation methods and highlights successful examples of their application in low- and middle-income countries. It describes the recent application of such methods in humanitarian and forced displacement contexts, noting methodological challenges and ways to overcome them. It recommends expanding application of these methods to rigorously assess and inform programming in forced displacement contexts.


More is Better: Evaluating the Impact of a Variation in Cash Assistance on the Reintegration Outcomes of Returning Afghan Refugees


Does a change in the amount of cash assistance provided to Afghan refugees returning from Pakistan impact household outcomes? According to this impact evaluation, returnees who received a larger cash allowance of $350 per returnee - double the average annual income, pre-return – fared better than those who received a smaller allowance even 16 months after their return. Recipients of $350 in cash assistance were more likely to invest in durable assets such as a house, and recipients of $150 were more likely to spend the aid on immediate food consumption needs. The findings show that larger cash transfer programs can have a large and long-term impact on returnees’ families.


No Household Left Behind: Afghanistan Targeting the Ultra Poor Impact Evaluation


Can the ‘Targeting the Ultra Poor’ graduation model lift households out of poverty in Afghanistan? In this impact evaluation, women in treatment households received a one-off "big-push" package, including a transfer of livestock assets, a cash consumption stipend, skills training, and coaching. One year after the program ended and two years after assets were transferred, significant impacts are found across all the primary pre-specified outcomes: consumption, assets, psychological well-being, total time spent working, financial inclusion, and women's empowerment. Per capita consumption increases by 30 percent (US$24 purchasing power parity, US$7 nominal per month) with respect to the control group, and the share of households below the national poverty line decreases in the treatment group.


Iraq's Universal Public Distribution System: Utilization and Impacts during Displacement


In many countries, subsidized or free distribution of food has been a central pillar of social protection programs. Are in-kind food transfer programs effective in mitigating the loss of welfare induced by forced displacement? This paper examines whether Iraq’s Public Distribution System (PDS), a universal food subsidy program, has buffered the impacts of displacement on households. According to the analysis, displaced households with continued access to PDS benefits have higher food and non-food expenditures compared with displaced households who lost access. Likewise, households with access to PDS have higher calorie intakes and are less vulnerable to falling into poverty. However, displaced households remained significantly more vulnerable to poverty than non-displaced households. Hence, the program may not be the most effective for such shocks and approaches such as targeted cash transfers may offer alternatives.


Can Redistribution Change Policy Views? Aid and Attitudes toward Refugees in Uganda


Many public policies create (perceived) winners and losers, but there is little evidence on whether redistribution can support new political economy equilibria that raise aggregate welfare. Through a randomized controlled trial, this impact evaluation studied foreign aid programs for Ugandans which are explicitly connected to the refugee presence. Cash grants labeled as part of the refugee aid response substantially increased support for admitting more refugees and allowing them to work and integrate. Sharing information about public goods funded by the refugee response has smaller, though still significant, effects. Impacts persist for at least two years and are associated with changing beliefs about the economic effects of refugees. The results suggest that economic interventions can meaningfully shape policy views when the connection between policy and assistance is salient.

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The Psychosocial Value of Work: Evidence from a Refugee Camp


This impact evaluation presents a causal estimate of the psychosocial value of work for Rohingya refugees living in camps Bangladesh. The randomized evaluation used a control arm, a weekly cash arm, and a gainful employment arm, in which work is offered and individuals are paid weekly the approximate equivalent of that in the cash arm. According to the evaluation, employment confers significant psychosocial benefits beyond the impacts of cash alone, with effects concentrated among males. The cash arm does not improve psychosocial wellbeing, despite a weekly cash provision that is twice the amount held by recipients in savings at baseline. The paper finds that 66% of those in our work treatment are willing to forego cash payments and work for free. These results have implications for social protection policies for the unemployed in low-income countries and refugee populations globally.



The Gendered Value of Employment


Taking place in the Rohingya refugee camps where unemployment and strong gender norms are pervasive, this impact evaluation explored four interventions - a control arm, a weekly cash arm, and an employment arm of equal value, and a volunteering arm – and their effect on individuals' engagement of self, with their partner (intra-household decision making, bargaining and intimate partner violence), and with the outside world (sociability). By disentangling the components of employment (receiving income, performing a productive activity, and receiving an income for productive activity), the study maps the various dimensions of employment to distinct policy interventions, each with potentially distinct returns for men and women.

Can a photography project improve psychosocial and emotional wellbeing for adolescent Rohingya refugees?


This impact evaluation is designed to assess whether a photography-based intervention can improve psychosocial and emotional well-being for adolescents in Rohingya refugee camps. To date the project has successfully developed over 75 pages of a truly unique curriculum which takes adolescents through a journey of learning and self-exploration, and over 30 pages of training documentation to support NGO staff in the implementation of this novel intervetion. As of April 2023, the intervention and evaluation designs have also been extensively piloted. However, the project and its evaluation are on hold in Bangladesh and the research team is seeking partners that could implement the program at scale, including in other country contexts. 


Impact Evaluation of a Program to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence among Refugees and Host Communities


This impact evaluation measures the effect of two innovative interventions aimed at preventing and/or reducing intimate partner violence. The two interventions - a couples' training program and a radio edutainment intervention - are implemented in addition to a social safety nets project in refugee-hosting areas in Northern Cameroon.

Integrating Intimate Partner Violence Prevention into Social Safety Net Programs (qualitative study, forthcoming)

Can a ‘positive mental imagery intervention’ improve labor market outcomes for refugees in Ethiopia?


While there is clear evidence that poor mental health can hold back the economic inclusion of refugees, little is known about potential low-cost and scalable interventions to overcome such ‘internal’ constraints. This impact evaluation will test whether a low-cost and scalable ‘positive mental imagery intervention’ can help ensure refugees successfully integrate in Ethiopia’s labor market. Following Ethiopia’s ambitious policy change which allows refugees to work, this impact evaluation will start building the evidence base needed to ensure the new policy is effectively implemented.

Information and women participation in community driven development projects in the presence of refugees: evidence from Kenya


Women’s participation in community-driven development programs is much lower than men. This randomized experiment tests whether providing door-to-door information to women about the benefits of participating in such projects proves effective. Preliminary findings show that this type of intervention does not work as women’s beliefs are strongly dictated by prior beliefs and are ‘resistant’ to this type of messaging. Other strategies need to be sought in the project.

Impact Evaluation of Lebanon's Teacher Coaching Model


How can secondary school teachers in Lebanon be optimally supported in their increasingly difficult roles of teaching crowded and multi-cultural classrooms? This impact evaluation will assess the impact of a new training curriculum for teachers’ coaches.


Can an entrepreneurship intervention delivered alongside a cash-transfer program improve livelihoods in refugee-hosting regions in Niger?


This impact evaluation will measure the effect of providing entrepreneurship training to recipients of the Niger Forcibly Displaced Support Project's cash transfer program. It will test whether providing this intervention in addition to the cash transfers, further enhances livelihoods.

The Relationship between Economic Opportunities and Host Perceptions of Forced Migrants in Afghanistan


This study aims to answer the question: “Can host community perceptions of forced migrants be influenced by successful, government-led, poverty alleviation interventions?” The study leverages the evaluation of Targeting the Ultra Poor Program in Afghanistan, which provides economic opportunities through a multifaceted intervention, and has led to positive results in consumption and poverty reduction.

Impact Evaluation of the Development Response to Displacement Impacts Project in Ethiopia


This impact evaluation measures the impact of a ‘community-driven development program’ implemented in refugee-hosting areas of Ethiopia. Outcomes of interest are health, education, gender norms, and social cohesion, among others.