Key Principles

Seven key principles underpin UNHCR's approach to livelihoods programming:

  • 1. By enabling displaced populations to be or become self-reliant, livelihood activities empower men and women of all ages to prepare for and accelerate the achievement of durable solutions.
  • 2. During displacement, livelihoods activities are vital for the integrated and inclusive promotion of dignity, psycho-social welfare, social structures, marketability and entrepreneurship of women and men of all ages and abilities.
  • 3. Without access to safe livelihood opportunities, child labour, economic and sexual exploitation, marginalization of older people and people with disabilities and other threats to personal security are heightened. Supporting livelihoods is an essential aspect of UNHCR's protection mandate.
  • 4. In prolonged displacement situations, self-reliance alleviates the pressure on countries of asylum with poor socio-economic conditions, where host communities are struggling to meet their own needs. Care and maintenance is less costly when refugees or internally displaced people achieve some degree of self-reliance.
  • 5. Productive refugees may become attractive to their host community, as they stimulate social, economic and cultural exchanges. Enhanced economic opportunities promote peaceful coexistence between displaced and host communities.
  • 6. Initiatives to protect and enhance refugee or IDP livelihoods should be informed by a comprehensive socio-economic and gender based assessment of both displaced and host population, as well as in the host or return area, in preparation for eventual local integration or reintegration.
  • 7. Preserving and enhancing refugee livelihoods touches upon multiple sectors and requires multi-year planning: An area-based approach, in partnership with development actors, is essential for an effective livelihoods response.