Durable Solutions in Practice, September 2017 [EN/AR]

Manual and Guideline
Originally published
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The handbook aims at providing a practical methodology for a bottom-up approach to durable solutions planning, based on durable solutions targets identified by displacement affected communities at decentralized level, in post-conflict or post-disaster settings. It is developed in response to the feedback received on the use of the Preliminary Operational Guide on Durable Solutions (hereafter: the Guide), which was published in 2016 in implementation of the 2011 Decision of the Secretary-General on Durable Solutions calling for guidance in developing durable solutions strategies for IDPs and returning refugees.

The Guide provided clear steps on how to develop a durable solutions strategy under the consultative leadership of RC/ HCs. Yet lessons learned on the use of the Guide brought to light that the initiation of the strategy development process at RC/HC level often resulted in a top-down approach that made it difficult to adapt the strategies to specific national and local contexts. Initiation of the process by the international community also increasingly led to lack of ownership and buy-in from national authorities, impeding the governments’ endorsement of strategies that had been developed. Decentralized and area-based approaches to durable solutions were more likely to be successful, especially if they were initiated by, or had obtained buy-in from local authorities such as governors and mayors.

Comments received from practitioners on the use of the Guide also indicated the need for practical examples on how to develop and implement durable solutions plans.

The handbook is intended to address these observations by providing an area-based approach to durable solutions planning and field-based examples for guidance.


The handbook can be used in any situation where a conscientious decision has been taken by relevant stakeholders at national or decentralized level - preferably authorities - to seek durable solutions to the situation of IDPs and returnees. Possible triggers of such a decision include peacebuilding efforts; social, economic and political reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts after a conflict or natural disaster; the halt or scaling down of humanitarian assistance to IDPs and returnees; the closure of displacement sites or the eviction of IDPs and returnees from sites. It can also be triggered by a genuine commitment of national or local authorities to end protracted displacement in order to achieve development goals.

Political will and drive from national and local authorities are prerequisites for achieving or working towards durable solutions. Their leadership and support are key in the initiation, development and implementation of durable solutions plans, if they are to be sustainable. The role of the international community and partners complements the authorities’ efforts by assisting in the removal of political and legal obstacles, and supporting the implementation of sustainable measures towards durable solutions.


The handbook is developed to provide guidance to durable solutions coordinators involved in durable solutions planning or programming. It is also intended for durable solutions experts, who might be called upon to provide in-country support to durable solutions initiatives. The handbook might also be useful to any stakeholder, including national and local authorities, initiating a durable solutions process.