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Supporting Livelihoods in Azraq Refugee Camp

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A preliminary evaluation of the livelihood and psychological impacts of the IBV scheme in Azraq Refugee Camp, Jordan

INTRODUCTION

Azraq refugee camp in Jordan opened in April 2014 and is currently home to over 53,000 Syrian refugees, many of which spent time at the berm on the border between Syria and Jordan after fleeing the war-torn cities of Aleppo and Homs. Management of services in the camp is strictly controlled, limiting mobility in terms of individuals, formal work opportunities, cash flow and products. With few options for employment, it is challenging for residents to earn an income and fill their days with meaningful activities – perpetuating dependence on cash assistance, with diminished financial and psychological well-being. In order to help address the limited livelihoods opportunities and introduce a source of cash into the camp setting, in April 2014 humanitarian actors established an incentive-based volunteering (IBV) program in Azraq camp. This seeks to help refugees play an active role in the functioning of the camp while simultaneously earning an income to supplement the food, non-food, and cash distributions they receive. The program is coordinated by UNHCR, with applications for IBV rotation managed through CARE International and employment contracts implemented by INGOs including the Danish Refugee Council (DRC). Applicants are selected for rotations based on their skill level and household vulnerability. The IBV program is now one of the few modalities for residents to earn an income within the camp.

IBV programs have grown increasingly popular over the last ten years, particularly in post-conflict and post-natural disaster urban settings. The program model is designed as a way of not only providing financial assistance to vulnerable populations but also giving them increased agency over their financial and livelihood decisions.

Notably, the Syrian Refugee Crisis is one of the first times IBV programs have been run in restricted camp settings that lack the free flow of both individuals, goods, and money, which are the hallmarks of previously-successful IBV interventions. To date, little research has been conducted to test the assumptions surrounding the positive financial and psychological impacts of IBV programs on refugee’s well-being in camp settings.

DRC conducted a study with three core objectives: to better understand the proportion of residents applying for IBV opportunities in Villages 3 and 6 of Azraq camp, examine motivations and experiences of residents enrolled in the DRC IBV program specifically, and test the relative dependence on, and subsequently impact of, the IBV program on a participant household’s financial and psychological well-being.