High quality comparable socioeconomic evidence takes time, resources, and expertise to produce. In the past, without a dedicated investment and strategic partnership, it was not attainable for UNHCR to generate this data.
At the same time, the most recent population count show that there are 15.7 million refugees in protracted situations at the end of 2020. This represents 76 percent of all refugees. Recent estimates also show that almost one million children were born into a refugee life between 2018 and 2020, relegating more children to spend their entire childhood, and possibly their whole lives, outside their country of origin. Further, with 86 percent of refugees living in developing countries with limited capacity, the basic rights and economic, social and psychological needs of millions of refugee children and youth risk being left unmet (UNHCR 2020 Global Trends Report).
The Global Compact on Refugees recognizes that managing the growing forced displacement crisis and protracted situations require sustainable solutions and shared responsibility through international cooperation. This is the best way forward to ensure that refugees lead productive lives and host communities get the support they need.
Almost one million children were born into a refugee life between 2018 and 2020, relegating more children to spend their entire childhood, and possibly their whole lives, outside their country of origin.
Among the initiatives that UNHCR leads and co-partners to advance the objectives of the GCR, one key element is the expansion worldwide of the collection and use of socioeconomic data in forced displacement settings. Doing so allows reliable measurements of the depths of vulnerabilities of forcibly displaced populations, enables essential comparisons with host communities, informs planning and targeting of assistance for both populations, and allows for groundbreaking research necessary to breaking the cycle of forced displacement and improving people’s lives. This effort is essential for informing the inclusion agenda into national systems for both forcibly displaced and the host community. Notably, the host community is frequently one of the first responders in forcibly displaced settings and can have sizeable gaps in welfare as well, which this effort is able to shine a spotlight on.
The effort has yielded tangible benefits to communities in settings that UNHCR is assisting. For example, the 2019 World Bank-UNHCR (supported by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics) Kakuma survey in Kenya proved to donors the need for skills and livelihoods programmes for women. It also informed the IFC’s private sector outreach in Turkana Country, one of the poorest in Kenya.
Among the initiatives that UNHCR leads and co-partners to advance the objectives of the GCR, one key element is the expansion worldwide of the collection and use of socioeconomic data in forced displacement settings. The effort has yielded tangible benefits to communities in settings that UNHCR is assisting.
In Uganda, with evidence in hand of high and pervasive economic vulnerability, UNHCR successfully advocated for partners to continue the provision of food assistance to all refugees.
And in Lebanon, despite the complications of face-to-face surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic, UNHCR and its partners continued to administer in-person surveys of the Vulnerability Assessment of Syrian Refugees due to its crucial importance as a source of information for planning support for the refugees, many of whom sunk deeper into poverty in 2020.
In Brazil, research into the local integration of Venezuelan refugees has been an essential element in making the case to government and development organizations of deepening access to services for Venezuelans and Brazilians alike through development programmes and approaches.
In many of these efforts, the World Bank-UNHCR Joint Data Center (JDC) is supporting UNHCR. Other partners, notably the World Bank, World Food Program, UNICEF, GAGE, IRC (to name just a few among many key partners) are also collaborators in collecting high quality socioeconomic microdata and using them to generate robust evidence to inform the humanitarian agenda in multiple sectors.
More examples of the use of socioeconomic evidence, and innovative ways of generating them, are illustrated in the new publication Using Socioeconomic Evidence for Action in Forcibly Displaced Contexts. By highlighting these examples, the goal is to further raise awareness of the usefulness and impact of evidence-based humanitarian interventions, and identify opportunities for expanded use of such data to support robust programming and expand development partnership dedicated to improving the welfare of forcibly displaced and their host communities.