Relief and Development Coherence

Refugees are persons of concern from a development perspective to the extent that they are often living in extreme poverty; can impact the economy of their host country; and have the potential to contribute in the reconstruction of their home countries upon return. At the end of 2015, UNHCR calculated that developing regions hosted 86% of the world’s refugees, and that 26% of the world’s refugees were hosted by some of the least developed countries.

How does “relief and development coherence” apply in situations of forced displacement?

Relief and development coherence is a strategic approach to respond to protracted and recurrent crises with coordinated and complementary humanitarian and development assistance efforts. When applied to situations of protracted forced displacement, relief and development coherence takes into account the welfare both of populations that have been displaced as well as the host communities.

While humanitarian assistance is focused on serving the most basic and immediate needs of populations in crisis, development programs can minimize the strains on public services, infrastructure, social cohesion, and the broader economy that may result from hosting large numbers of forcibly displaced persons. A combined humanitarian and development approach simultaneously improves the conditions of refugees in protracted situations and can enable continued progress on a host-country’s economic and social development agenda.

Development actors can provide technical advice and support as well as appropriate sustainable program design in protracted refugee settings. Moreover, a development approach can ensure the sustainability of interventions and assist with reintegration of refugee populations. Through sustained efforts at relief and development, refugees can integrate locally into the host country, resettle in a third country, or contribute positively to rebuilding their country of origin. Similarly, such an approach can promote and contribute to durable solutions for IDPs.

What are some ways to promote relief and development coherence with regard to refugees, IDPs, and other populations of concern?

Greater use of joint humanitarian-development planning, including through bilateral development processes, the UN Development Assistance Frameworks, national development frameworks, and international financial institutions is critical to promote relief and development coherence. Additionally, this collaboration can occur through:

• Committing both humanitarian and development resources to protracted crises and better coordinating project design to be complementary and mutually reinforcing;

Working toward refugee self-sufficiency in host countries so that refugees can be assets to their communities; and

Using the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as an overarching framework. The Agenda’s preamble addresses the inclusion of refugees, IDPs, and migrants, and notes the “positive contribution of migrants for inclusive growth and sustainable development.”

How is the United States advancing this approach?

The U.S. Government is working toward relief and development coherence as related to populations of concern by:

• Increasing joint humanitarian-development planning through the Department’s and USAID’s annual budget build process;

• Reorienting development programs to support refugees and hosting communities in areas of large refugee influxes, such as Jordan and Lebanon;

• Making the economic case for refugee self-reliance so that refugees can be assets to their communities;

• Supporting the development and funding of new financing tools to assist countries hosting large numbers of refugees;

• Encouraging research to understand the methods, consequences, case studies, and lessons learned.