UNHCR deployed a Senior Protection Officer (SPO) specialized in Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) to Mahama camp in Rwanda between March and December 2016, under the U.S. funded Safe from the Start initiative. In January 2018, the UNHCR’s Division of International Protection performed an end line assessment of the actions put in place during the deployment, and a sustainability assessment to evaluate the progress made since the end of the deployment.
Measured against 46 essential actions deemed most effective in preventing, mitigating and responding to SGBV, the Mahama Camp operation has been successful in advancing 39 out of these, bringing 83% of essential actions to full operational level by the end of the deployment and sustaining the same percentage of actions since the end of the deployment. The assessment shows that SGBV activities implemented and in progress in Mahama camp are comprehensive and sustainable. The deployment of an SPO to the operation has been effective in increasing the availability of services and activities related to the prevention, mitigation and response to SGBV from 30% to 80%, and more than doubled the effectiveness of actions required to ensure the protection of persons of concern (POCs), progress which has been sustained further since by UNHCR Kirehe and partners in Mahama Camp. There was no regression shown on any indicators.
Out of seven thematic areas assessed, coordination and reporting improved the most during the deployment and community-based protection and livelihoods achieved the greatest progress post-deployment. Creative efforts at rolling out community awareness campaigns are estimated to have reached approximately 71% of the camp’s population.
Key to the success in Mahama camp has been the engagement and interest by the refugee community to engage in activities and initiate action against SGBV, and the strong commitment and thorough work by local colleagues, in close and well-functioning cooperation with UNHCR partners, throughout the deployment and since.
This report summarizes the progress made during the SPO deployment and the sustainability of actions put in place during the 13 months since its finalization. It highlights best practices which may be replicable in other operations. These include 1) awareness raising campaigns, 2) the creation of a Women & Girls dedicated multipurpose center, 3) close partnership and coordination with humanitarian partners, the Rwandan government and authorities, and 4) dedicated efforts at capacity building of UNHCR staff and partners.
The high progress and sustainability rate achieved in the Mahama camp operation indicate the relevance and effectiveness of the Senior Protection Officer (SGBV) deployments in UNHCR’s continued efforts at preventing, mitigation and responding to SGBV in emergencies.