Community (Economic) Reintegration: Implementation Strategies

This section discusses strategic issues related to implementation of the various activities overall their interaction and sequencing, and the strategic frameworks and operational mechanisms increasingly being promoted and utilized to foster a more integrated approach to community reintegration.

Sequencing and guiding principles

The UN Security Council has emphasized the need for reintegration programs to be "incorporated systematically into post-conflict relief efforts and planning should begin at the outset of any emergency." To ensure this, the UNHCR became a member of the United Nations Development Group, with the aim of ensuring that refugees and returnees were included in the formulation of post-conflict policies, as well as longer-term development programs.1

As recognized in the late 1990s, in particular through the UNs 1998 "Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement," it is vital to consider the specific needs of IDPs during the planning and implementation of displacement, resettlement and reintegration.2 "...The notion of durable solutions as understood in the refugee context (voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement) cannot simply be transposed and applied in the context of internally displaced persons. The range of solutions for returning refugees and IDPs is different (voluntary return, local reintegration, settlement elsewhere) and there is not hierarchy among them, since they flow from the right to freedom of movement and the right to choose one's residence."3 This underscores the importance of comprehensive information gathering in the early stages of planning and programming to ensure that the concerns and aspirations, educational backgrounds, skills and needs, areas of origin, membership in social groups, and property status in the country of origin, amongst other issues, inform a coherent reintegration process that will serve peacebuilding.

UNHCR has extensively outlined lessons learned and best practices, as well as general considerations for planning and implementing reintegration programs in their Handbook for Repatriation and Reintegration Activities. Key among the considerations that support economic recovery and peacebuilding include:
- Developing strong institutional cooperation and commitment to support the needs and efforts of United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) to bridge gaps in transition strategies;
- Analyzing the extent to which the countrys political and economic situations are likely to become more or less stable as repatriation and reintegration continue;
- Developing interventions in a manner that addresses security, economic, social and political governance and assuring that the causes of conflict have been removed;
- Maintaining consideration of the reception returnees, IDPs and other receive from the resident population and ensuring that communities of return benefit from reintegration activities in order to promote social cohesion and reduce tensions between those individuals who left and those who remained;
- Providing appropriate assistance to both organized and spontaneous returnees and harmonizing it, to the extent possible, with assistance to other groups (e.g. ex-combatants); Go to Challenge: Spontaneous versus organized return
- Building sustainable mechanisms that promote household and community protection and economic recovery;
- Utilizing the skills, assets and lifestyle changes returnees and other displaced populations are bringing back with them.4

Lessons learned and good practices
- Develop a comprehensive national reintegration strategy for all displaced persons, including ex-combatants, IDPs and returnees, as well as host communities in areas of high displacement;
- Include a wide body of development actors, national and local authorities, and communities with the process of assessment, planning and priority setting from the earlier stage of a reintegration program. Local ownership and participation should be the priority from the initial stages;
- Increase coordination and openness in the repatriation planning process to keep all actors informed about the scope of displacement and to ensure that data is available to all actions during the planning of reintegration, reconstruction and rehabilitation strategies;
- Incorporate long-term development initiatives into humanitarian relief strategies to fill the relief to development gap;
- Recognize the importance of adopting a community and area-based approach to reintegration that makes no distinction between returning refugees, returning IDPs, former combatants and members of the resident population.
- Implement donor responses that are flexible, speedy and well-coordinated, both political and financial;
- Create a legal operating framework that supports reintegration;
- Policies and strategies should be based on the local context;
- Develop policies and strategies that are transparent and promote accountability from the beginning.5

The World Bank has also articulated a set of lessons that have a strong focus on decentralized planning and community development. They recommend in particular, the development of Community Development Councils (CDCs) to facilitate decision-making and short-term project aims. CDCs were created or expanded by Post-Conflict Fund grants (PCF) a partnership between the WB, UNDP and UNHCR and the way they are utilized on the ground is dependent on the country and context. Part of a larger reintegration strategy, it is felt that the CDC process can also "lay a foundation for a longer-term strategy to help the local communities hold government accountable, linking them to the larger political structure," and even ultimately serving as an avenue to political leadership.6

At the same time, while the development of parallel participatory decision-making mechanisms are in many cases are desirable and inevitable, their ability to create competition, foster conflict with and between existing and new authority structures, and create avenues for resources to circumvent local government, should be considered.

The Bank's lessons also focus on the need to ensure adaptability and flexibility in program implementation central to goal of maximizing local decision-making and generally, in being responsive to chaotic post-conflict environments.7 Financial management that supports increased agility is especially beneficial; early disbursement of funds, in particular, increases project versatility.8 Moreover, it is necessary to establish an open, analytical approach that can help the agency recognize and respond to changing needs. Examining and tracking underlying assumptions while keeping the community reintegration objectives in the forefront supports this goal.9

The Bank also suggests that linking the project with other initiatives and structures can leverage the individual efforts.10 This can be done by conducting joint program assessments and using incentives to support collaborative project design and by tying community reintegration projects to the larger Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) process and other country strategies can create continuity.11 At the same time, "while creating greater synergy is desirable and useful, several factors affect the viability of linking projects to other efforts, such as funding and project cycles, the economic benefits and incentives of various initiatives, and changes in the local situation." Additionally, agencies with different mandates may "face political risks by connecting to peace initiatives that have strong political connotations"-- a reality that must be factored into thinking when it comes to collaborative and integrative efforts.12

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Strategic Frameworks

Framework for Durable Solutions for Refugees and Persons of Concern

Based on the concepts in the UN Agenda for Protection, the "Framework for Durable Solutions for Refugees and Persons of Concern" presents three models for aligning development assistance with the needs of refugees and persons of concern: Development Assistance for Refugees (DAR), Repatriation, Reintegration, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction (the "4Rs"), and Development through Local Integration (DLI).

Development Assistance for Refugees (DAR)

Development Assistance for Refugees (DAR) is an integrated approach to development assistance intended to increase burden sharing for countries hosting large numbers of refuges, improve the asylum situation for refugees, and promote self-reliance. Link to Self-reliance

DAR aims to achieve and facilitate the following:
- "Burden sharing with the host country;
- Compensation for the burden aspect of the host community;
- Development of the host country;
- Development of the host community;
- Gender equality, dignity and improved quality of refugee life;
- Empowerment and enhancement of productive capacities and self-reliance of refugees, particularly of women, pending durable solutions."13

According to the Framework, the success of DAR and thus, the improvement of refugee lives through empowerment and self-reliance depends on the willingness of the host country to view refugees as contributors to local development and the access refugees have to livelihood activities.14

Repatriation, reintegration, rehabilitation and reconstruction (4Rs) strategy

The High Commissioner for UNHCR proposed the 4Rs as a framework to bring together humanitarian and development actors at the national level, in the implementation of the reintegration process. The 4Rs framework works within existing national strategic frameworks, such as poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs) and United Nations Development Assistance Frameworks (UNDAFs),15 with the objective of allocating "greater resources to create a conducive environment inside the countries of origin so as to, not only prevent the recurrence of mass outflows, but also facilitate sustainable repatriation."16

"The guiding principles and critical success factors for this integrated approach are:"
- Ownership by host governments of the processes which the 4Rs concept embodies;
- Integrated planning process at the country level by the UN Country Team;
- Strong institutional cooperation and commitment to support punctually and at decisive moments, the needs and efforts of country teams to bridge essential gaps in transition strategies;
- Participation of the plethora of actors who form part of the development community- UN agencies bilateral and multilateral institutions.17

Another important principle of the 4Rs framework is the active participation of displaced persons in the planning process and the inclusion of their medium and long-term needs in recovery strategies, as well as in early negotiations for voluntary repatriation.18

It is important to note that the success of the 4Rs program in fostering sustainable repatriation and reintegration is not yet evident. Continuous evaluation of ongoing programs in Sierra Leone, Eritrea, northwest Somalia, Angola and Liberia will determine the viability of the 4Rs approach over the long-term.19

Lessons learned for the 4Rs strategy
- The 4Rs strategy should promote integrated planning and be a part of the overall transition process in post-conflict countries;
- National governments (of the country of origin and the host country) should have ownership of the process;
- Integrate planning at the country level, which can be led by the United Nations Country Team;
- Institute strong institutional cooperation;
- Secure commitment by United Nations agencies and donors to provide timely financial and political support to bridge essential gaps in transition strategies;
- Ensure civil society participation in the planning and implementation processes.20

Development through Local Integration (DLI)

Development through Local Integration (DLI) is used in cases where refugees integrate into a country of asylum, rather than repatriate to their country of origin. "In situations where the State opts to provide assistance with the aim of attaining a durable solution in terms of local integration of refugees as an option and not an obligation."21 DLI is intended to build on DAR and seeks to facilitate commitment from donors to support host countries and decrease the burden that may be perceived by allowing local integration. Host countries are not obligated to allow refugees to integrate locally, and therefore, DLI is only applicable when the host country is willing. Local integration in a host country involves economic, social and cultural, and legal components. Economically integrated refugees are more likely to become self-reliant, and thus contributors to local development.22

Livelihoods Framework (DFID)

While not explicitly developed for post-conflict situations, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) has developed a livelihoods framework that can be applied to reintegration strategies and the improvement of the livelihoods of returnees, IDPs, and their communities. "The sustainable livelihoods approach...seeks to develop an understanding of the factors that lie behind people's choice of livelihood strategy and then to reinforce the positive aspects (factors which promote choice and flexibility) and mitigate the constraints or negative influences. It does not try to promote any given livelihood strategy simply because the 'raw materials' (e.g. forests, land, employment opportunities) for this exist."23  Go to Livelihoods and Employment

The framework also recognizes the inherent difficulties in livelihood programs: projects inevitably favor some while disadvantaging others. Thus, when considering livelihood strategies it is important to recognize that people compete (for jobs, for markets, to secure better prices, etc.), which makes it difficult for everyone to achieve simultaneous improvements in their livelihoods.24

The livelihoods framework is comprised of five elements:
- Vulnerability Context: Addresses the ways that the external environment influences peoples livelihoods. Vulnerabilities affecting livelihoods are: trends (population, resources- including conflict, economics), shocks (human health, economic, conflict, crop/livestock health) and seasonality (prices, production, employment opportunities);
- Livelihoods Assets: An "asset pentagon" lies at the core of the livelihoods framework, within the vulnerability context. Livelihoods are built upon the following asset categories: human, natural, financial, physical and social capital;
- Transforming Structures and Processes: Institutions, organizations, policies and legislation that shape livelihoods. These structures and processes operate all levels, from the household to the international arena, and in all spheres, from the most private to the most public. Culture is included in this category;
- Livelihood Strategies: This is the overarching term used to denote the range and combination of activities and choices that people make/undertake in order to achieve their livelihood goals (including productive activities, investment strategies, reproductive choices, etc.;
- Livelihood Outcomes: The goals of a livelihood strategy are to increase income and well-being, reduce vulnerability, improve food security and create a more sustainable use of the natural resource base.25

Poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs)

Poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs) elaborate a long-term national development plan that is linked to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. They are now a prerequisite for debt relief and concessional loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). The PRS process is rooted in the ideas of country ownership, broad participation and equitable, pro-poor development,26 although the degree to which these actualize in country specific situations varies. PRSPs are discussed in much greater detail in the Economic Recovery Strategies section.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Handbook for Repatriation and Reintegration Activities recognizes the links between development, conflict and refugees and the potential for developing solutions through the poverty reduction process (PRS). "Refugees' and returnees' limited physical, financial and social assets complicate and delay their pursuit of sustainable livelihoods. By tackling these issues, a PRSP can significantly contribute to the restoration of peace and stability and to conflict prevention."27 Clearly, incorporating reintegration concerns into the PRSPs also promotes a smooth transition between relief efforts, reintegration and longer-term development all of which promotes peacebuilding.

Common Country Assessment (CCAs) and the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAFs)

The Handbook also identifies ways in which the Common Country Assessment (CCA) and the UN Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF), the UN country-based frameworks for analyzing and planning development strategies, can support returnee needs and the reintegration process. CCAs, which articulate development challenges, are developed through a local consultative process and serve as a diagnostic tool, can benefit returnees by placing refugee/returnee concerns firmly on the development agenda of UN agencies, bi- and multi-laterals.28 CCAs also form the basis for the UNDAF.

UNDAFs are strategic frameworks used to coordinate the activities and priorities of UN country teams within the context of the national development framework, such as the PRSP.29 The UNDAF lays the foundation for cooperation between local and international actors. UNDAFs are increasingly expected to infuse peacebuilding and conflict prevention issues within them. Placing returnee needs in a countrys UNDAF can ensure stronger coordination and integration between actors, lay better foundations for linking short and long-term strategic planning and programming, and pave the way for a smoother exit strategy for international actors.

African Union Policy Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development

As part of its growing role as an institution for peace, the African Union is developing the Policy Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development. Recognizing that the framework is still a work in progress, the Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) Framework is comprised of six constitutive elements: security; political governance and transition; human rights, justice and reconciliation, humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and socio-economic development and gender.30 Consideration of refugee and IDP reintegration is given under two of the elements: Security and Humanitarian / Emergency Assistance.31

In order to achieve the objective of security, the following action related to refugee and IDP reintegration is expected: "Ensure integrated approaches to capacitate communities and affected countries to deal with repatriation, resettlement (within country), reintegration and rehabilitation of refugees, the internally displaced, ex-combatants and their families, with particular attention to women victims of violence."32

In order to achieve the objective of humanitarian/emergency assistance, the importance of activities aimed "at stabilizing and rehabilitating the society including the return, reintegration and rehabilitation of refugees, Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), ex-combatants and other war affected populations" is recognized,33 The need for "comprehensive strategies" to ensure their "sustainable return, reintegration and rehabilitation" is aimed at "ensuring their full participation in the reconstruction of their communities, country and preventing further population displacement."34 Additionally, the ability for them to exercise the right to return to their places of origin and/or live in other areas of their choice is highlighted, as is having access to reasonable means of livelihood including gainful employment."35

Notably, the constitutive element of "Reconstruction and Socio-Economic Development," does not explicitly address refugee and IDP reintegration, despite the known relationships between displaced persons, reintegration and social and economic recovery.36

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Institutional Mechanisms

Quick Impact Projects (QiPs)

Quick Impact Projects (QiPs) are small, rapidly implemented projects undertaken by UNHCR to
"support refugees who were re-establishing themselves in their own communities, alongside IDPs and members of the community who had not been displaced."37 They are designed to foster community cohesion and must have community participation at its core, in order for there to be lasting and sustainable results. QiPs must be included as an integrated strategy for reintegration and recovery.38 QiPs projects range from those that have as a main focus on infrastructure, environment, and protection, to those focusing on livelihoods, food security, education etc., and coexistence.39

1. United Nations Security Council, "Solutions to Refugee Problem Common Responsibility, Require Adequate Resources, Rudd Lubbers Tells Security Council," United Nations Website, Press Release SC/8099, May 20, 2004.
2. United Nations, "Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement," E/CN.4/1998/52/Add.2 (New York: United Nations, February 11, 1998),*.
3. UNHCR, Policy Framework and Implementation Strategy, 3.
4. UNHCR, Handbook for Repatriation and Reintegration Activities, 3.2, 3.4.
5. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee, "Policy Framework and Implementation Strategy: UNHCRs Role in Support of the Return and Reintegration of Displaced Populations" (Geneva: UNHCR, February 18, 2008), 6; "Dialogue on Voluntary Repatriation and Sustainable Reintegration in Africa," Refugee Survey Quarterly (October 2004): 271 and The World Bank Post-Conflict Fund, "Workshop on Closing the Gap on Community Reintegration Activities: Learning from Inter-agency Collaboration," (Geneva: The World Bank, June 23-24, 2003), 46.
6. Ibid., 2.
7. Ibid., 3.
8. Ibid., 3.
9. Ibid., 3.
10. Ibid., 3.
11. Ibid., 3.
12. Ibid., 4.
13. UNHCR, Framework for Durable Solutions for Refugees and Persons of Concern,
14. Ibid.
15. Ibid., 18.
16. Ibid., 5.
17. Ibid., 18.
18. Ibid., 20.
19. IRIN, "The Long Journey Home," 5.
20. "Dialogue on Voluntary Repatriation and Sustainable Reintegration in Africa," Refugee Survey Quarterly (October 2004), 271.
21. UNHCR, Framework for Durable Solutions for Refugees and Persons of Concern.
22. Ibid.
23. DFID, "Sustainable Livelihoods Guidance Sheets, Section 2," 27.
24. Ibid., Section 2, 28.
25. Ibid., Section 2, 30.
26. The World Bank, Toward a Conflict-Sensitive Poverty Reduction Strategy, Report No. 32587 (Washington, D.C.: World Bank, June 30, 2005), 8.
27. UNHCR, Handbook for Repatriation and Reintegration Activities, 2.34.
28. Ibid., 2.22.
29. United Nations Development Group, "United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF)," UNDG.
30. AU, "Draft Policy Framework for Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD)," 8.
31. Ibid., 15, 17
32. Ibid., 9,
33. Ibid., 16
34. Ibid., 17
35. Ibid., 18
36. Ibid., 18-20
37. UNHCR, Policy Framework and Implementation Strategy, 4.
38. UNHCR, "Quick Impact Projects (QiPs): A Provisional Guide," v-vi.
39. Ibid., 2.

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