The Global Program on Forced Displacement (GPFD)

The Global Program on Forced Displacement (GPFD) was established in 2009 to enhance the global development response to forced displacement through economically and socially sustainable solutions. For the purposes of this program, forced displacement refers to the situation of persons who are forced to leave or flee their homes due to conflict, violence and human rights violations.

Displacement can have negative development impacts, affecting human and social capital, economic growth, poverty reduction, Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and environmental sustainability. At the same time, displacement can have positive effects when the displaced are able to develop skills and coping mechanisms in situ and contribute to economic growth. Both in protracted displacement and when solutions emerge, developmental responses become critical to address the needs of the displaced and their host or return communities. These needs include:

  • Access to land, property and housing
  • Livelihoods
  • Services delivery
  • Accountable and responsive governance.

GPFD supports development responses to situations of crisis, protracted displacement, and return, through four core lines of activity:

  • Operational support: to strengthen the World Bank Group’s (WBG) and international partners’ responsiveness to existing and arising forced displacement scenarios. 
  • Partnerships: with governments, multilateral organizations, donors, academic institutions and NGOs. 
  • Analytical work: country/regional or thematic analytical work.
  • Knowledge dissemination: to share operational approaches and lessons learned from analytical activities.

This program sits within the Fragile, Conflict and Violence topic area of World Bank work.


Last Updated: May 27, 2015

GPFD helps strengthen operations within the World Bank Group (WBG) to ensure that the WBG and its partners adequately respond to development challenges linked to forced displacement. The Program provides technical assistance in the form of strategic advice and inputs during:

GPFD has provided operational support around the world. Representative examples of our support include the following:

Azerbaijan Internally Displaced Persons Living Standards and Livelihoods Project
Approved October 2011, with an expected closing date of June 2016, the project was created to provide better living conditions and more employment opportunities, to 185,000 Internally Displaced Persons in Azerbaijan.

Democratic Republic of Congo – Eastern Recovery Project
Approved February 2013, with an expected closing date of June 2018, the objective is to improve access to livelihoods and socio-economic infrastructure in vulnerable communities in the eastern provinces of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Jordan – Emergency Services and Social Resilience Project
This project aimed to address the strains on municipalities regarding local public service delivery to refugees as well as host communities, who are increasingly becoming adversely affected by the Syrian refugee crisis.

Cote d'Ivoire Emergency Post-Conflict Assistance Project
A sub-project, Projet d’Urgence pour le Retour des Personnes Déplacées Internes (PUR-PDI), responded to the 2011 post-electoral crisis in Cote d’Ivoire, specifically: (i) community infrastructure to facilitate access to basic social services; (ii) social cohesion to ameliorate local tensions; and (iii) provision of employment through labor-intensive public works and income-generating

GPFD engages with partners, both within and outside the World Bank Group, including bilaterals, UN agencies, NGOs, and research institutions. Jointly, GPFD and its partners collaborate on:

  • Developing new operational solutions
  • Mobilizing joint resources for new activities
  • Coordinating strategies and global policy development
  • Undertaking joint analytical work.

GPFD works with partners at the global, regional and country level, and participates in workshops, conferences, and events on forced displacement and development around the world. Key actors with which GPFD collaborates include:

United Nations
Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)
UNHCR - The UN Refugee Agency
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
United Nations Peace Building Commission

Danish Refugee Council
International Rescue Committee
Norwegian Refugee Council
Search for Common Ground

Research Institutions
Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement
Fafo Research Foundation
Feinstein International Center
International Displacement Monitoring Center
International Crisis Group
International Peace Research Institute
Overseas Development Institute
Oxford University Refugee Studies Centre
Clingendael - Netherlands Institute of International Relations

The GPFD commissions and contributes to several different types of analysis, including global analytical work on cross-cutting displacement issues, country specific political economy or context analyses, and displacement profiles for specific countries or regions. For GPFD, analytical work often is a starting point for engaging with partners on operations or policy dialogue.

This published analytical work includes:

"Yes" in My Backyard? : The Economics of Refugees and Their Social Dynamics in Kakuma, Kenya (2016)

While the unprecedented global refugee crisis brings the world’s attention to the plight of refugees, this report provides an original analysis of the economic and social impact of refugees in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp on their Turkana hosts. The methodology developed by the authors enables policy scenarios to be run in a rigorous manner, ranging from encampment to decampment (i.e. camp closure) scenarios, and has the potential to be applied in other refugee situations around the world.

Sustainable Refugee Return (2015)

This study identifies the conditions that influence the decisions by refugees in protracted displacement regarding return to their home country – when, why, and by whom are decisions on return or other coping strategies made, and how are they affected both by life in exile and by the situation in the country of origin. 

GPFD Annual Progress Report (January 2014-June 2015)

In the past 18 months, the WBG has seen a dramatic increase in client demand for development work on forced displacement, particularly in the AFR and MENA regions. To meet this demand, GPFD is scaling up its analytical, operational and partnership support to country and regional teams. Senior management across the WBG is giving the issue greater priority as illustrated by the recent joint visits of the WBG President and the UN Secretary General to the Sahel, Great Lakes, and the Horn, with announcements of operational funds directed to forced displacement. 

Forced Displacement and Mixed Migration in the Horn of Africa (2015)
The study was undertaken in the context of the World Bank’s regional approach to the Horn of Africa and to support UNHCR’s strategic shift in addressing needs of the displaced populations from "care and maintenance" to "social cohesion and self-reliance." The study sought to analyze the forced displacement and development nexus, explore the mixed migration phenomenon, assess the impacts of refugees and migrants on hosting areas and communities, identify ongoing innovative interventions, and propose entry points and practical steps to address the development dimensions of forced displacement and mixed migration in the HOA, including regional operations, institutional reforms, and policy changes. In addition, the study process helped bring together a range of (a) humanitarian and development agencies; (b) local, regional, and national governments; (c) national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs); and (d) bilateral and multilateral organizations. Together, these groups identified a shared agenda to address the humanitarian and development needs of displaced and migrants, as well as for the hosting communities, whose service delivery and developmental deficits are further exacerbated as a result of these movements. 

Forced Displacement in the Great Lakes Region – A Development Approach (2015) | French
This report analyzes the extent, causes, and character of this forced displacement as it stood at the end of 2013 within the Great Lakes Region (GLR) of Africa. The report focuses on Burundi, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.  This the report establishes the opportunity to pay more attention to the challenges of forced displacement within existing regional political frameworks, processes, and bodies such as the PSCF, the ICGLR, the African Union, and the UN Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region; and recommends that in addition to governments and international agencies responding to the humanitarian crises, development agencies should become more involved in addressing displacement in the GLR.

GPFD Annual Progress Report July 2012-December 2013 (2014)
This report covers the period 1 July 2012 to 31 December 2013 and details how the program has refined its strategy to focus more on operational results and documentation, consolidation of partnerships, application of knowledge, and strengthening of dissemination.

Analysis of Displacement in Somalia (2014)
This study informs the Bank and other development and humanitarian actors on the scale, characteristics, and political economy dimensions of displacement in Somalia. 

Political Economy and Forced Displacement: Guidance and Lessons From Nine Country Case Studies (2014)
This note describes how to conduct political economy analysis (PEA) of forced displacement and illustrates how PEA may contribute to understanding forced displacement crises with nine case studies: Casamance (Senegal), Colombia, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Liberia, the Philippines, Somalia, South Sudan, and Zimbabwe.

GPFD Annual Progress Report 2011-2012 & Strategy for 2013 and Beyond (2013)
This is the third progress report of GPFD, covering activities conducted in Fiscal Year 12 (FY12), i.e. the period 1 July 2011-30 June 2012. The report discusses the strategy for moving forward in 2013 and beyond. This report will changed focus, compared to earlier progress reports, from mainly describing activities to emphasizing achievements and results.

Georgia, Review of Livelihood Programs (2013)
This report details the forced displacement context, current situation and livelihoods support and maps projects meant to boost IDP employment, production, and enterprise. The report then pinpoints six key challenges and offers opportunities for improvement and recommendations to modify the approach.  Lastly, the report provides additional steps and studies that could be taken to further define a strategic approach to IDP livelihood support.

Forced Displacement of and Potential Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and Refugees in the Sahel – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger (2013) | Summary in French 
The purpose of this scoping study on forced displacement is to contribute towards the formulation of a regional policy framework for sustainable solutions to displacement and towards the substantiation of a development response. The main challenges for the displaced populations include: i) livelihoods; ii) relations with host communities; iii) cohesion; iv) depletion of services; and v) governance. Measures to be taken to address the needs of these communities are: 1) improving the monitoring of population movement and knowledge on the locations, profiles and needs of the displaced, their host and return communities; 2) ensuring that the displaced and those affected by them can benefit from ongoing wider development investments in the region by designing 'displacement-sensitive' interventions; 3) strengthening services in affected areas through targeted regional investment programs; 4) employment creation and livelihood generation for those displaced; 5) delivering resources for the displaced in such a way that important outcomes are achieved; and 6) exploring the creative use of new technologies to extent information and development benefits to the displaced.

Evaluation Report: Azerbaijan Internally Displaced Persons Youth Support Project – Youth Skills and Business Development (2013)
This study reports the results of a summative and impact evaluation of the Azerbaijan Internally Displaced Persons Youth Support Project (IDP-YSP), implemented by the Social Fund for Development of Internally Displaced Persons (SFDI) and funded by the World Bank Group with a grant from the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF).

Internal Displacement and the Kampala Convention: An Opportunity for Development Actors Analytical Study and Brochure (2012)
This study examines how international, regional and domestic human rights instruments and frameworks, in particular the guarantees enshrined in the Kampala Convention and the Great Lakes IDP Protocol, can be used to enhance the design and implementation of development interventions targeting internally displaced people and other communities affected by displacement.

Assessing the Impacts & Costs of Forced Displacement Guidelines, Volume I and Volume II (2012)
Led by the University of Oxford Refugee Studies center, managed by the WBG, this mixed methods assessment tool was created to guide the evaluation of the economic and social aspects of forced migration. The Guidelines, to enhance the understanding of evaluation methods, and of Volume I and II, present quantitative and qualitative methods of evaluation, tools for agency collaboration, and how to make the best use of available data.

Azerbaijan: Building Assets and Promoting Self Reliance: The Livelihoods of Internally Displaced Persons (2011)
The WBG and the Government of Azerbaijan collaborate on this report to research to identify constraints on and opportunities for increasing IDPs’ self-reliance. It reviews challenges, outstanding needs and insecurities identified by IDPs. With a problem-solving orientation, the report pursues the argument that in order to expand the choice of IDP livelihoods in Azerbaijan, it is possible to build upon and extend economic activities in which they are already involved but which are currently unprofitable.

Research Study on IDPs in Urban Settings – Afghanistan (in Dari) (2011)
Internal displacement, the rapid growth of urban areas, and proliferation of informal settlements were in the spotlight of public policy debate in Afghanistan in 2011. This report describes the results of a joint WBG-UNHCR study, “Research study on IDPs in urban settings”. Part of broader WBG research on poverty in Afghanistan, the study focuses on IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) living in informal settlements in urban centers as a vulnerable segment of the population. The study discusses characteristics, livelihood strategies, and vulnerabilities of households living in informal settlements in three urban centers in Afghanistan: Kabul, Kandahar and Herat.

The Search for Durable Solutions: Armed Conflict and Forced Displacement in Mindanao, Philippines  (2011)
This study on the nexus between conflict, displacement and development was commissioned by the WBG office in the Philippines, with support from the Global Program on Forced Displacement (GPFD).  The purpose of this strategy note is to: (i) understand the underlying structural causes, cyclical nature, scale, and impact of involuntary internal displacement due to armed conflict and; (ii) identify development options and actions to enable durable solutions for internally displaced persons (IDPs) resulting from the armed conflict in Mindanao. The note moves from an understanding of the context to recommended strategic knowledge building and operational program components including suggestions for partnering, financing, and an analysis of risks and attendant mitigating actions.

The Development Challenge of Finding Durable Solutions for Refugees and Internally Displaced People (2011)
This note discusses the development challenge of finding durable solutions for refugees and IDPs, and the relevance of this challenge for the WDR on securing development in fragile and conflict affected settings. The note describes (i) the scale, trends, and impact of forced displacement, (ii) the development challenge of finding durable solutions for those displaced, (iii) practices addressing this development challenge, (iv) connections between the political, security and developmental aspects of forced displacement including regional spillover and impacts, and (v) suggestions as to what governments and the international development community can do in order to move beyond humanitarian emergency assistance and contribute to durable solutions for refugees and IDPs in return or displacement situations.

The Impacts of Refugees on Neighboring Countries: A Development Challenge (2011)
This brief focuses on the period of displacement and seeks to outline the impact of refugees on neighboring countries, including the developmental implications of forced displacement. The first section describes trends in the distribution of refugees in asylum countries. The second section discusses how neighboring countries that host refugees for protracted periods experience long-term economic, social, political, and environmental impacts. Finally, this brief presents examples of global experience of development interventions that have focused on mitigating the negative aspects of large-scale and protracted displacement and strengthening the productive capacities of refugees in host countries.

Forced Displacement – The Development Challenge (2009)
This note discusses the development dimensions of forced displacement, and the potential role of the WBG to address these dimensions and contribute to durable solutions for groups who have returned from or are in displacement situations. For the purposes of this note, forced displacement refers to the situation of persons who are forced to leave or flee their homes due to conflict, violence, and human rights violations.

Forced Displacement – Overview of the World Bank Group Portfolio (2009)
This note is an overview of the 94 activities that the WBG has taken, between the 1980s and until the end of FY2009, that address forced displacement in different ways.  This short overview includes charts and graphs to quickly impart how the WBG's 84 operations and 10 analytical works break down by sector, country, beneficiaries, financing, and more.

GPFD is the custodian of knowledge, learning, and communications relating to forced displacement within the World Bank Group (WBG). GPFD seeks to share lessons learned from operational experiences and from analytical reports and studies, as well as to gain insights from institutions outside the WBG, in order to better inform WBG operations and policy. GPFD also organizes and represents the WBG in seminars, workshops, and conferences on forced displacement issues.


  • The Fragility, Conflict, and Violence Core Course

GPFD leads a training on forced displacement as part of the FCV Core Course, a twice-yearly course for internal and external participants.

  • Forced Displacement Training

This training is open to high-level WBG staff and key external partners. The aim of the training is to operationalize responses to development challenges posed by forced displacement by building and equipping a community of Task Team Leaders and key staff who work in countries affected by forced displacement.

Recent past:

Fragility, Conflict, and Violence Forum: Panel Presentation by GPFD, UNHCR, and the Government of Uganda, with presentations on Turkey and Azerbaijan

On February 11, the Fragility, Conflict, and Violence Group and GPFD hosted a panel for the FCV Forum, the purpose of which was to: (i) Profile the new UNHCR policy on "Alternatives to Camps" (ii) Highlight Uganda’s experience and the work of GPFD in establishing development responses to Forced Displacement; and (iii) Examine WBG experience in providing alternatives in Turkey and Azerbaijan.

GPFD @ Brookings on April 21, 2015: Great Lakes Report Dissemination (Audio)

On April 21 GPFD and Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement presented a panel titled "Africa’s Great Lakes region: A development response to forced displacement." WBG panelists Joanna de Berry and Cordelia Chesnutt were joined by Stacey White, who presented her report "Now What? The International Response to Internal Displacement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo." The panel as moderated by Elizabeth Ferris.

Below are key international and regional instruments, guidelines, and frameworks applicable to refugees and IDPs: