Incorporating a monitoring and evaluation culture into refugee resettlement programs can improve their sustainability and result in stronger integration outcomes
BRUSSELS — As displacement has risen to new highs in recent years, there has been a flurry of activity around refugee resettlement, with a number of countries around the world launching resettlement programs for the first time or scaling up existing efforts. Within the European Union, resettlement has become a bigger priority and could take on even greater importance with a New Pact on Migration and Asylum on the horizon later this year. But to ensure the sustainability of long-running and new resettlement programs alike, it is essential for policymakers and resettlement program designers to take stock of lessons learned and be able to demonstrate the value of these activities.
A new Migration Policy Institute Europe report, Using Evidence to Improve Refugee Resettlement: A Monitoring and Evaluation Road Map, describes monitoring and evaluation (M&E) as the missing link. While many resettlement systems lack a strong M&E culture, the report’s authors note that development of M&E practices can help in the assessment of a resettlement program's potential to fulfill its strategic and operational objectives. M&E can also improve understanding of obstacles—both to define them and how to overcome them—and lead to better outcomes for refugees and communities in countries of resettlement and first asylum.
"In recent years, as resettlement authorities in many countries have raced to set up or expand programs, there has been limited bandwidth for M&E activities," write MPI Europe researchers Aliyyah Ahad, Camille Le Coz and Hanne Beirens. "The current slowdown in international protection operations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic has created a window for policymakers, program designers and evaluation teams to elevate M&E from an afterthought to center stage."
The report makes the case that M&E can help improve resettlement systems in three key ways:
- Tracking progress on objectives. Developing an M&E system gives resettlement actors the valuable opportunity to map out their (common) objectives and then evidence of the degree to which these are being met and the effects on refugee integration outcomes.
- Supporting continuous learning and improvement. An M&E framework can help track lessons learned more systematically, allowing officials to adjust programs where there are opportunities to do better or at the earliest signs of distress. For example, as more countries establish predeparture orientation programs to prepare refugees for life after resettlement, it is important to test whether and which models have an actual impact on refugees’ settlement and integration.
- Attaining value for money. M&E systems can enable resettlement actors to track the resources allocated at each phase of the program and compare the cost-effectiveness of different models. This information can help inform decisions on future funding allocations and can indicate what is possible at different levels of investment.
The report offers a road map for creating or strengthening M&E frameworks, including first identifying M&E champions, mapping out what information is needed, taking stock of existing data collection tools to think creatively about how they could be redeployed and determining which research methods can collect the desired information.
"With many different approaches to resettlement having sprung up across the globe, more in-depth research is needed to answer questions about whether any of the myriad models are more effective than others—and what works when, where and why," the report concludes. "This knowledge will help countries optimize their programs and adapt more quickly to new challenges and opportunities."
The report, commissioned as part of the European Union Action on Facilitating Resettlement and Refugee Admission through New Knowledge (EU-FRANK) project, can be read here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/refugee-resettlement-monitoring-evaluation-road-map.
The EU-FRANK project is financed by the European Asylum Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF) and led by the Swedish Migration Agency. Belgium, Italy, the Netherlands and Switzerland are partner countries. For more on the project, click here.