The forced displacement crisis has emerged as an important development challenge. The plight of the forcibly displaced and the impacts on host countries and communities pose significant challenges to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
On 17 December 2018, the United Nations General Assembly affirmed the Global Compact on Refugees, led by UNHCR, a framework for cooperation to ensure a robust, comprehensive response to forced displacement crises. Looking at implementation, better data and evidence will be needed to prioritize resources across situations, inform policy recommendations, develop sound interventions and enable effective synergies between humanitarian and development actors in pursuit of shared outcomes.
In support of these efforts, the UK Department for International Development (DFID) has invested £10 million over four years (2016-2020) for the development of new research on protracted forced displacement through a joint partnership between DFID, the World Bank Group and UNHCR. This program will generate evidence on what works to ensure future investments are well targeted and represent good value for money.
To improve the wellbeing of the forcibly displaced and host communities by improving global knowledge on the effectiveness of policies and programs that target these populations.
This will be achieved by financing research and impact evaluations that cover policies and programs for refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), returnees and their host populations and by disseminating findings among policy makers, beneficiaries and the public at large.
The program consists of five activities that will contribute to different aspects of research that are critical to build the evidence base on protracted forced displacement situations:
- Shedding light on global questions: This initiative will finance large multi-country and multi-partner research projects that address questions of global interest related to forced displacement in four strategic thematic areas: jobs, health, education, and social protection. Through a global tender, grants will be allocated to lead research institutions to produce analyses that shed light on these global questions.
- Improving programs through impact evaluations: This initiative supports World Bank, UNHCR and DFID operations that require research to answer specific questions that constrain operational delivery. Grants will be provided to finance impact evaluations that address one or more specific questions agreed to with project task teams. Evaluations are expected to produce results that can be used directly to improve existing operations and feed into program policies and design.
- Complementing research with targeted studies: This initiative will synthetize lessons emerging from the entire research program, and complement the program with additional studies. Research activities will include literature reviews, desk research, meta-analyses of existing literature and original studies complementing research financed under activities 1 and 2. Highlights:
- Improving the quantity and quality of microdata: One of the bottlenecks related to research on forced displacement is lack of microdata - data on individuals and households collected via registries, censuses and surveys that allow for detailed socio-economic analyses of refugees, IDPs and their hosts. This component of the program aims at improving the quantity and quality of microdata available to researchers leveraging the institutional capacities of the World Bank and UNHCR. Examples of this activity include expanding national household surveys to refugees and IDPs, designing new surveys, improving existing registries, and developing methodological material for microdata collections among refugees and IDPs (sampling, questionnaire design, data collection methodologies).
- Supporting young and senior fellows: Another major bottleneck related to research on forced displacement is the scarcity of researchers specializing in this field. This component of the program aims at expanding the number of researchers focused on forced displacement through two initiatives. The first is the creation of a Young Fellowship Program designed to provide postdoctoral scholars with a one-year fellowship to study forced displacement situations. The second is the establishment of a research network of senior and junior scholars working on forced displacement with microdata.
- Labour markets and self-reliance. This includes labour demand and supply policies such as work permits, training schemes, support to start-up activities, targeted investments, wage policies, retraining and other policies that foster the transition from social protection to self-reliance.
- Social Protection and targeting. This includes cash programs, food voucher programs, disability programs, programs designed to foster the transition from assistance to work and other forms of social protection programs administered by humanitarian and development organizations and of relevance in a forced displacement context.
- Primary services. This includes the provision of health and education including primary and secondary health provision, nutrition programs, pre-school, primary, secondary, tertiary and adult education programs.
- Gender. Gender will feature prominently in the work under this program. All research funded under the program is expected to have a gender dimension and provide insights into gender inequalities whereas specific gender studies are financed in critical unresearched areas such as Gender Based Violence in forced displacement situations.
Research will target five groups including the population of origin, refugees, IDPs, hosts and returnees. The questions addressed by research proposals may relate to one of these populations, to several of these groups or to the relations between groups.
Priority geographical areas include Sub Saharan Africa with a focus on the countries located immediately South of the Sahara desert, the North Africa and Middle East region with particular emphasis on the Mashreq countries and South Asia with particular emphasis on Afghanistan and Pakistan.