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Thinking forward about Livelihoods for Refugees in Ethiopia: Learning from NRC's Programming - 2013 - 2016

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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NRCs evolving programme in Ethiopia 2013 - 2016

This research finds the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) in Ethiopia to be forward thinking as a strategic player in the livelihoods sector and in providing assistance to refugees. Its initial basic service response — which was in high demand (due to drought) when NRC began work in country and remains well executed — placed the organisation in a strong position in Ethiopia. From this foundation NRC has been able to expand into livelihood programming, both in and outside of camps, based on needs and as opportunities presented themselves. At present, however, NRC is limited by the lack of a core strategy to define its approach to livelihoods in Ethiopia.

NRC's livelihoods programming has been well received and suited to meet beneficiaries' immediate needs. However, this research reveals a mismatch between the livelihood support provided and beneficiaries' expectations. Moreover, the discrepancy between the resources provided - small size of the cash grants or loans for vocational activities - and the resources required to start-up and maintain business was deemed to have 'diluted' the impact of the project to a great extent, even when utilized correctly. In addition, outside of internally linked income-generating opportunities for YEP graduates, there is a high level of unemployment for participant's post-graduation — negating the theoretical linkages between education and livelihoods and threatening. NRC's programme impact.

Towards an integrated (livelihoods) programming strategy

Although livelihoods programmes have been delivered well, activities have been ad hoc_and need to be formalised to meet community expectations and donor demands and fit with stakeholder programming. The country programme needs to determine where livelihoods programming should be positioned internally. At a global level, NRC has delinked livelihoods and food security; however, at the country level there is a misperception that the two remain joined, creating internal and external confusion. It is crucial that these linkages be clarified at the country level, as NRC will need to ensure its linkages to key partners who do not define livelihoods in terms of food security. NRC Ethiopia has already implemented ad hoc livelihoods education (YEP), shelter, WASH programming and is already seeing a demand from partners for further livelihood-specific programming. Therefore, without a clear position/strategy, NRC will run the risk of internal disconnects and missed opportunities. As a result, NRC needs an integrated programming framework that encompasses fivelihoodsi- rather than aiming for a sustainable livelihoods strategy — to fit to the context and to facilitate both internal and external coordination.

This report provides actionable — short, medium and long-term - recommendations in this regard, with a specific focus on youth. Across the board, NRC has emphasised the importance of supporting youth and children, a significant demographic group both in importance and in sheer volume. Furthermore, NRC's reconceptualising of refugee education, in line with such partners as UNHCR, demonstrates the organisation's achievement in ensuring programmatic focus is placed on human rights to achieve durable solutions and avoid prolonged humanitarian endeavours. The following provides a summary of key recommendations outlined in the document.