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Evaluating the three UNHCR protection strategies

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Karin Seyfert

Tom Pellens, Sourovi De, Sope Otulana, Karin Seyfert

In 2011-12, UNHCR formulated a new global Framework for the Protection of Children and two global strategies on Education, and Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) with initial five-year timeframes for implementation. The three strategies define organisational objectives, and provide a policy framework and guidance for country level strategies. Although independently formulated, the three distinct strategies address crosscutting protection factors, risks, and concerns.

We were commissioned to design and conduct an evaluation in partnership with LSHTM to assess the quality, implementation, and emerging results of the three strategies.

Challenges

The three strategies underline UNHCR’s commitment to protecting vulnerable groups within the 21 million people under its mandate. The specific focus on these issues aims to better equip displaced people to exercise their rights as individuals and communities. This, it is hoped, will allow them the chance to live fuller lives.

All three protection strategies are set to end in 2016, and our evaluation findings were to be used in the decision making process for their replacements.

A key challenge for this evaluation was assessing the extent to which the content and implementation of the three independently formulated, global-level strategies have been absorbed and adapted by country offices, and have contributed to maximising protection outcomes.

Our approach

We used both primary and secondary research methods to develop a conceptual framework, describing the various factors at HQ, regional, and country levels that define successful strategy implementation and protection outcomes.

To understand the depth of UNHCR’s implementation and the possible effects these strategies may have on improving protection of persons of concern, we conducted a small-scale quantitative survey for the 31 “priority” UNHCR countries, and in-depth qualitative research in a further six countries. An extensive document review further complemented our mixed methods approach.

Specific services we provided included:

  • Development of a conceptual framework for the study, focusing on the variables which will influence attainment of strategy implementation outcomes;
  • Review of internal UNHCR strategy documents, supplemental materials at various levels and external academic, organisational, and policy documents on protection guidance and frameworks in countries where the strategy has been implemented;
  • Desk review, phone interviews and email interviews to understand implementation history and strategy absorption in 31 countries worldwide, as well as in UNHCR HQ;
  • In depth qualitative research in six sampled countries: Egypt (all three strategies), Chad (all three strategies), Rwanda (all three strategies), Mexico (child protection), Iran (education), and Bangladesh (SGBV and education); and,
  • Development of policy recommendations based on the evidence.

Outcomes

The evaluation findings, conclusions and related recommendations were disseminated in an end-of-project webinar facilitated by an external agency. The webinar was to incite discussion of the evaluation findings and include a Q&A session with UNHCR staff from study countries. Over the longer term, the evaluation will inform:

  1. UNHCR's global strategic planning process for Child Protection, Education and SGBV following 2016;
  2. UNHCR's processes, systems and tools for drafting, implementing and monitoring global thematic strategies; and,
  3. UNHCR's approaches and policies in these three areas.