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FCDO - UNHCR - World Bank Program: Building the Evidence on Forced Displacement



  • Background. The program “Building the Evidence on Protracted Forced Displacement: A Multi-Stakeholder Partnership” was established in September 2016 as a partnership between the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), World Bank and UNHCR with the objective of improving global knowledge on forced displacement. The program includes three main pillars designed to tackle the main global research questions on forced displacement (global questions studies); measure the effectiveness of programs targeting the forcibly displaced (impact evaluations); and address the most pressing policy and theme specific questions (policy and thematic studies). Five priority sectors are areas of focus under the first three pillars:  health, education, social protection, jobs and gender 

    Additional components were added to the program: in 2017 to expand the production of microdata on the forcibly displaced (microdata program); in 2018 to encourage young researchers to work on forced displacement (young fellowship program); and in 2019 to expand research on gender (gender program). In 2019 the microdata program was transferred to the newly established World Bank-UNHCR Joint Data Center (JDC). In 2020, the program was further expanded to undertake a study on preventing social conflict and promoting social cohesion, a study on preventing food insecurity and price volatility and the creation of a web portal for the storage and use of data and reports on fragility and forced displacement. 

    Overall, the program has financed 7 global studies, 14 impact evaluations, 24 young fellows, 11 policy and thematic studies and a live data portal. The program has a total budget of approximately USD $16 million and is expected to close at the end of 2023.

  • The program consists of various research activities that will contribute to different aspects of research that are critical to build the evidence base on protracted forced displacement situations: 

    1. Shedding light on global questions;
    2. Improving programs through impact evaluations;
    3. Complementing research with targeted studies;
    4. Supporting young scholars working on forced displacement.

    Shedding light on global questions: This initiative finances large multi-country and multi-partner research projects that address questions of global interest related to forced displacement in five strategic thematic areas: jobs, health, education, social protection and gender. Through global tenders, grants are allocated to lead research institutions to produce analyses that shed light on these global questions.

    • Education: Building the Evidence for What Works
    • Health: Big Questions in Forced Migration and Health
    • Social Protection: Social Protection Responses to Displacement and Integration
    • Jobs: Global Questions on Forced Displacement and Jobs
    • Gender: Building the evidence base on gender specific vulnerabilities in forced displacement contexts

    Thanks to an additional contribution provided by FCDO in 2020, the program has launched the preparation of two new research studies that will build on a series of articles commissioned to external researchers:

    • Preventing social conflict and promoting social cohesion in forced displacement contexts. This study aims at better understanding how public policies can address social inequalities that lead to or are the consequence of forced displacement crises. Through the lens of social inequalities, it will explore the roots of social conflicts and population displacements, how forced displacement crises can be prevented or how they can be quickly stabilized during the early stages, before they become chronic phenomena that require complex sustainable solutions. This will be done by focusing on critical inequalities such as income inequality, inequalities of opportunities, inequality of access to services or gender inequalities considering inequalities between and within displaced populations and host communities. The call for proposals for these studies closed on July 30th, 2020.
    • Preventing food insecurity and price volatility and promoting self-reliance in forced displacement contexts. This study focuses on the early stages of food and displacement crises when conflict, population and public expenditure shocks generate price instability and food insecurity with potential severe consequences for the well-being of the forcibly displaced and host communities. This research will focus on monitoring prices, food security and nutrition to pick up early signs of market failure, food insecurity and undernutrition for the forcibly displaced and their hosts. It will also study the role of policies related to price, food and aid in fostering self-reliance during the period leading to a crisis and during the early stages of a crisis to reduce long-term food aid dependency. The objective is to provide indications of policy measures that could help to predict food insecurity and mobilize funding and programs early to avert spikes of food insecurity and undernutrition and promote self-reliance measures.

    Improving programs through impact evaluations: This initiative supports World Bank, UNHCR and FCDO operations that require research to answer specific questions that constrain operational delivery. Grants finance impact evaluations that address one or more specific questions and are expected to produce results that can be used directly to improve existing operations and feed into program policies and design. The program currently includes 14 impact evaluations:

    1. Afghanistan: Impact evaluation of the Targeting the Ultra Poor graduation program - Full paperPolicy brief.
    2. Afghanistan: Assessment of the socio-economic outcomes, movement patterns and reintegration challenges of Afghan returnees - Full paper.
    3. Bangladesh: Impact evaluation of a child protection program in Rohingya refugee camps
    4. Cameroon: Impact evaluation of a program to prevent intimate partner violence among refugees and host communities (Social Safety Nets project)
    5. Ethiopia: Impact evaluation of health and educational outcomes for the Development Response to Displacement Impacts project
    6. Ethiopia: Impact evaluation of labor outcomes of the Ethiopia Economic Opportunities Hybrid Program for Results
    7. Iraq: Impact evaluation of the role played by the government Public Distribution System in mitigating welfare loss for internally displaced populations - Full paperPolicy brief.
    8. Jordan: Impact evaluation of the Providing Opportunities with Education for Refugees and Jordanians program
    9. Kenya: Impact evaluation of health and educational outcomes for the Development Response to Displacement Impacts project
    10. Lebanon: Impact evaluations of teacher support programs (Reaching All Children with Education initiative)
    11. Lebanon: Impact evaluation of the National Poverty Targeting Program graduation model
    12. Niger: Impact evaluation of the Forcibly Displaced Support Project
    13. Nigeria: Impact evaluation of different strategies to improve health workers outreach and health outcomes for pregnant women and women with children in areas affected by the Boko Haram insurgency (Additional Financing for the Nigeria State Health Investment Project)
    14. Uganda: Impact evaluation of an entrepreneurship program for refugees and host communities in Kampala.

    For more information on impact evaluations in forced displacement contexts click here.

    Complementing research with targeted studies: This initiative synthetizes lessons emerging from the entire research program and complement the program with additional studies. Research activities include literature reviews, desk research, meta-analyses of existing literature and original studies complementing research financed under the activities, shedding light on global questions and improving programs.

  • Improving the quantity and quality of new 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). As of 2020, the activities under this pillar have been expanded and developed with the creation of the World Bank-UNHCR Joint Data Center.

    Improving access and use of existing specialized data. As a complement to the work on micro data collection, the program has now partnered with the World Bank data group to establish a data portal for the benefit of researchers working on forced displacement and fragile countries. The portal focuses on the access to specialized data such as data on conflict, famine, displacement, or opinion data. It is designed to facilitate merging of different types of data such as geodata and microdata and advanced analysis of big data with artificial intelligence instruments. The portal also offers a space for depositing and using reports, articles and programs’ codes that are used for publications facilitating the reproduction of existing publicly available results. The portal is currently in draft version and for internal World Bank use and should be made publicly available in 2021.

  • 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. Highlights:

  • The program includes a detailed uptake strategy designed to maximize the impact of research on policy.

    Key elements of this strategy include stakeholder engagement, capacity building, communication and monitoring and evaluation and refers to all the activities that facilitate and contribute to the use of research evidence. The uptake strategy supports the supply of research by ensuring that research questions are relevant through engagement with practioners, communicating research effectively and synthesizing and repackaging research for different audiences.

    The uptake strategy is implemented through briefs, blogs, social media, seminars, workshops, conferences and other events that are designed to disseminate the findings of the research program to policy makers, practioners and other development actors.

    Blog posts: