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MINEMA and UNHCR - Joint Strategy on Economic Inclusion of Refugees and Host Communities in Rwanda 2021-2024

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The Ministry in charge of Emergency Management (MINEMA) of the Government of Rwanda (GoR) and UNHCR Rwanda aim to ensure by 2030, that all refugees and neighbouring communities living in Rwanda are able to fulfil their productive potential as self-reliant members of the Rwandan society who contribute to economic development of their host districts. 1

Problem Statement

The reduction of dependency to humanitarian assistance and achievement of graduating out of poverty through socio-economic inclusion and the promotion of self-reliance are at the heart of UNHCR’s protection mandate and GoR’s commitments. Advocating for refugee’s access to work opportunities based on the hosting areas labor market needs is a priority for this strategy alongside facilitating employment for the members of the host communities. Due to Covid-19, significant challenges remain on how to promote economic inclusion of refugees and host communities within struggling sectors and restore their livelihoods. The Strategy counts on a rapid rebound of the economy as well as various support to partner organizations and employers that will initiate innovative solutions and take the initiative to employ refugees on a sustainable basis. The other set of challenges, applicable for both refugees and their host communities, are general lack of capital and other productive assets (including, skills, land) for self-employment in business and agriculture.

Strategic objectives 2021-2024

  1. Enable refugees and host communities to acquire and preserve livelihoods assets to construct their living, become self-reliant and build resilience to shocks 2. Promote socio-economic inclusion of refugees and host communities and their enhanced access to economic opportunities on a sustainable basis 3. Expand proven and innovative ways of supporting self-reliance2 of refugees and host communities in Rwanda, especially through the graduation approach and market-based interventions 4. Promote results and evidence-based programming by improving planning- implementation – monitoring – learning and practice on successful livelihoods approaches

Guiding Principles for livelihoods interventions in Rwanda

  • Protection

  • Age, Gender and Diversity (AGD)

  • Leave no One behind

  • Social cohesion

  • Scalability and Sustainability

  • Appropriateness and reliability

  • Enhance local economy and markets

  • Resilience to shocks

  • Whole of society approach (Refugees and Host Communities)

  • Households Economy Approach

Strategic Approach

Overall, the strategy will use a livelihoods approach that focuses on the promotion of livelihoods assets by supporting income generation through sustainable employment, asset creation and investments (productive assets and skill transfer - market linkages that increase demand for locally produced food and products - and business/entrepreneurship interventions to support graduation out of extreme poverty) alongside prevention approach for managing risks and shocks and protection measures to ensure that basic needs are met.
To support the realization of the GoR’s commitments on graduating refugees out of humanitarian assistance and promoting refugee employment opportunities as made at the Leaders’ Summit in year 2016, this strategy will ensure that livelihoods interventions take a ‘whole-of-society’ approach in the context of the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) and the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework (CRRF). In more concrete terms the strategy will focus on the following approaches:

  • Inclusion: ‘Refugees are included in the communities from the very beginning. When refugees gain access to education and labour markets, they can build their skills and become self-reliant, contributing to local economies and fuelling the development of the communities hosting them’3 .

  • Advocacy: Integrate leveled advocacy at the policy level with key governmental counterparts and development partners; the private sector level and the community level, to enhance economic inclusion of refugees and their host communities

  • Market driven solutions: Integrate market-based solutions that integrate markets needs and involve the private sector for sustainable livelihoods for both refugees and members of the host communities

  • Local Economic Development: Take a local economic development approach focusing on contextual needs of refugees and host communities as an integral part of the livelihood’s strategy and interventions

  • Scaled-up Initiatives : Scale up and mainstream linkages and partnerships with the GoR and development partners to increase funding for livelihoods projects and promote employment of refugees and host communities following the spirit of the National Employment Policy and strategic interventions identified through the NST14 .

  • Graduation: Graduation of refugees and host communities out of extreme poverty through sequenced and timebound interventions that aim to help people living in extreme poverty build resilience and engage in sustainable livelihoods. It integrates social protection, livelihoods promotion with large cash grants or a productive asset transfer component, financial inclusion, market linkages and social empowerment to build self-reliance of participating households on sustainable basis.

  • Shock-responsive: addressing the Covid-19 impact and any other future shocks and stresses in a holistic manner through an integrated approach, by focusing on multi-sectoral and multi-partner solutions and interventions; stepped up livelihoods activities and prevention measures to build resilience to shocks.

How to achieve results?

  1. In line with the NST1 for accelerating economic and social transformation, build and implement livelihoods interventions that aim at increasing refugee and host community employment in any of the three pillars: i) wage-earning employment; ii) self-employment - agriculture and iii) selfemployment-non agriculture (business route)

  2. Design and implement livelihoods interventions based on the cross-sectional pillar of “Advocacy” that aims at promoting wage and self-employment through access to markets and financial services 3. Integrate psycho-social interventions as a cross-cutting component in all livelihood’s interventions 4. Promote, design, and implement integrated livelihoods interventions that embed holistic and innovative approaches in increasing livelihoods assets portfolio of refugees and host communities and achieving self-reliance (human, social, physical, financial, and natural assets)

  3. Engage and facilitate partners in livelihoods programming to design and implement joint/integrated projects that take a holistic approach to refugee livelihoods’ needs 6. Use a balanced targeted approach in selecting beneficiaries of livelihoods programmes by targeting the poorest refugee and host community households as well as those endowed with skills and ready to graduate out of poverty once supported 7. Use a tailored advocacy strategy to promote livelihoods programming, particularly the graduation of refugees out of humanitarian assistance and the removal of non-legal barriers (e.g., lack of awareness among some employers about refugees’ right to work and the process of hiring refugees, insufficient access to finance for refugee entrepreneurs, limited access to tertiary and vocational education, as well as some other challenges specific to displaced people) to refugee socio-economic inclusion 8. Use of proven innovative interventions and scaling up of such initiatives through resource mobilization and evidence-based results reporting (mainly focusing on the graduation approach)

  4. Use and facilitate partners’ use of a structured, integrated, and harmonized monitoring and evaluation framework that focuses on harmonized baseline and end-line assessments; outcome assessments and results measurement based on contextualized results indicators to track results and build strong evidence case 10. Addressing the Covid-19 impact and any other future shocks and stresses in a holistic manner through an integrated approach, by focusing on multi-sectoral and multi-partner solutions and interventions; stepped up livelihoods activities and prevention measures to build resilience to shocks.

Scope of Implementation

The strategy will cover all refugees and their host communities through a household approach following an inclusive approach of age, gender, and diversity (AGD) with special focus on the persons with specific needs subject to fulfilling the core eligibility criteria of the specific interventions, based on socio-economic vulnerability, and targeting strategy. The scope of the strategy will primarily include all camp-based refugees (currently living in six camps: Mahama, Gihembe, Nyabiheke,
Kigeme, Mugombwa and Kiziba) 5and their host communities in the six refugee hosting districts (Kirehe, Gicumbi, Gatsibo, Nyamagabe, Gisagara and Karongi respectively) alongside refugees living in urban areas (mainly in Kigali, Huye and Nyamata) The strategy will also cover durable solutions response and any emergency response including the current short-term emergency transit mechanism (ETM) in Gashora for PoCs in transit to resettlements countries. The Livelihoods strategy for the ETM will focus on enhancing portable skills (both life skills and employment related) for enhancing refugees’ employability in the potential country of resettlement and some short-term interventions (e.g., horticulture) for refugees whilst they are in transit.

Who will help us to get there?

MINEMA and UNHCR will work with a range of partners including development partners and cooperation agencies - other UN partners – NGOs - social enterprises - private sector companiesthink tanks – and community-based organizations led by the refugees and host communities. The sought partnerships will focus on refugee inclusion in their respective development strategies – programs – budgets; as well as fundraising to implement livelihoods projects. Funding will be sourced from private sector investors, social enterprises and NGOs, other UN agencies, Government and development donors who will explicitly include refugees in their business plans or development programmes. Funding may be available for the implementing partners, NGO coalitions (e.g., Poverty Alleviation Coalition), Government Agencies (including MINEMA) and UN agencies including UNHCR, depending on donor preference, interventions design and funding modalities.
Partnerships with private sector companies will be pursued towards the inclusion of refugee-hosting areas and refugees in promising value chains. It will involve facilitating the private sector to assess and identify potential value chains in refugee hosting areas and the value of integrating refugees. In the agriculture sector, this includes setting up high value crops value chains (e.g., Chilli, Tea/Coffee) alongside other crops like vegetables, livestock, and crafts to produce goods and services required by refugees and host communities. The second step consists of ensuring that refugees as well as host community members with marketable skills are employed within the respective value chains.
Concurrently, MINEMA and UNHCR in partnership with private sector companies and the Private Sector Federation (PSF Rwanda) will work towards the reduction of non-legal barriers to refugee employment in the private sector. Further efforts with the private sector will focus on aligning technical and vocational training programmes on skills that are in demand by the Rwandan sectoral markets, including sector specific companies (e.g., hotels/restaurants, tea garden and agro-processing factories, business enterprises, textile industries, IT companies, innovative micro-work and data outsourcing etc.).

MINEMA and UNHCR will enhance refugee self-employment by working closely with both NGOs and the growing number of social enterprises that operate in Rwanda. Indeed, NGOs and social enterprises will support MINEMA and UNHCR in enabling refugee entrepreneurs as well as local host communities to grow businesses in and around the camps, and in urban settings. They will further support refugees to manage and benefit from the foreseeable increase in demand for refugee produced goods and services (e.g., soaps, shoes, crafts, garments, food and bakery items, interpretation services, cultural and sports performance etc.) alongside their employment in labour intensive manufacturing industries, agriculture, and service sectors.
For the advocacy purpose of this strategy, partnerships will be sought with local, national, and international media as well as social media to promote refugee socio-economic contribution to Rwandan economy. For instance, stories about the positive socio-economic impact of refugees in Rwanda will be published. Another advocacy focus with the media will be on the reduction of nonlegal barriers to refugee employment in Rwanda through awareness campaigns and other channels.
MINEMA and UNHCR will also share the lessons learned with the international community to enable other countries to learn from Rwanda’s inclusion policies.
For all purposes of the implementation of this strategy, strong partnerships between MINEMA and UNHCR as well as development actors through the One UN initiative and the UNDAP framework will be sought in order to achieve synergies between humanitarian and development interventions for refugee self-reliance and host communities alike.
The strategy will guide all partners for better design, resource mobilization and implementation of livelihoods and economic inclusion programmes with focus on building resilience to shocks (e.g.,
Covid-19 pandemic) and achieving impactful results.

Impact – How will we measure what works?

The impact of the program will be measured through constant monitoring of progress and results as well as the evaluation of the livelihoods targets and results to enable quantitative and qualitative impact analysis within MINEMA and UNHCR’s M&E systems. This will be aligned where possible with the results framework of the UNDAP-II (UN Development Assistance Plan II)6 which reflects the GoR priorities outlined in the NST1. The policies for addressing poverty, and the goals for poverty reduction, are set out in the First National Strategy for Transformation (NST1), the Vision 2020 and Vision 2050 strategies, and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).