The Contribution of Food Assistance to Durable Solutions in Protracted Refugee Situations: its impact and role in Rwanda (2007–2011)
This impact evaluation was commissioned jointly by WFP and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and conducted by an independent evaluation team of specialists in evaluation, food security, livelihoods, nutrition and gender, with appropriate experience of Rwandan and refugee context.
Serving both accountability and learning purposes, the evaluation was intended to:
assess and explain the outcomes and impact of food assistance interventions for Congolese refugees in protracted refugee camps within Rwanda from 2007 to 2011; and
identify the changes needed to improve the contribution of food assistance to self-reliance and/or durable solutions for protracted refugee populations in Rwanda.
- A theory-based approach was taken to assess the extent to which activities carried out by WFP and UNHCR resulted in the expected outcomes, and how external factors and assumptions affected results. The theory of change derived from UNHCR and WFP policies and programme guidance posits that inputs and activities will produce:
short-term outcomes including increased food consumption, increased use of water, sanitation and protection services, increased school attendance, and improved livelihoods;
intermediate outcomes including improved or stabilized nutrition, an improved food basket, and successful income-generating activities; and
long-term outcomes resulting in self-reliance, resettlement, repatriation, or integration within Rwanda.
- To examine this theory the evaluation examined four main questions:
i) Overall, what are the differential impacts of food assistance on the protracted refugee population in Rwanda?
ii) What are the impacts on food security and nutrition status?
iii) How does food assistance affect coping strategies?
iv) What are the impacts on protection and the protective environment?
- The evaluation team employed a mixed-methods approach including:
a quantitative household survey of 1,200 randomly selected refugee households in Kiziba and Gihembe camps; 38 focus group discussions with refugees and members of the host population in/around all three camps; 54 key informant interviews with WFP, UNHCR, the Ministry of Disaster Management and Refugee Affairs, partner non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and donors;
analysis of secondary data sources, including three joint assessment mission (JAM) reports,1 agency reports, and various assessments, monitoring data and proposals; and
transect walks and observations of conditions in the camps.
As all refugees in camps received WFP and UNHCR assistance, analysis focused on cross-sectional differences among camps and, to a lesser extent, among socioeconomic groups within the refugee population. Quantitative survey methods allowed statistical comparisons between two camps on some indicators.
There were limitations to the evaluation:
A lack of systematic nutrition data collection in the camps and surrounding areas affected nutrition analysis. An anthropometric survey conducted in May 20112 used survey sampling methods that did not allow the analysis of indicators by camp.
Although the interpretation of qualitative data applies to all three camps, quantitative data was collected and analysed only for the situation of refugees living in Kiziba and Gihembe camps; time and financial constraints precluded a quantitative survey in Nyabiheke camp.
Resource constraints compelled WFP to halve food rations for the general food distribution (GFD) in all three camps in September 2011. This situation may have influenced refugee interviews approximately one month later.