Taking Monitoring and Evaluation to heart: Turning refugee sponsorship programs into a sustainable model that can be scaled up requires an evidence base
BRUSSELS — A growing number of European countries have launched or are piloting refugee sponsorship programs, where community members and civil-society groups take on responsibilities for the reception and integration of refugees into their new communities. Yet even as the popularity of these programs, also referred to as community or private sponsorship, increases, evidence remains relatively scant regarding whether they are living up to expectations and which program elements are most effective.
The refugee sponsorship model that emerged in Canada during the 1980s and has since spread to Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom (as well as Oceania and the Americas) has long been touted for its ability to provide refugees with a warm, supportive welcome and to give sponsors a rejuvenated sense of community and purpose.
But there is surprisingly little evidence about how well such programs are performing, their impact on refugees and receiving communities, or how to invest smartly to scale up operations, as a new Migration Policy Institute Europe issue brief explains.
In Measuring Up? Using Monitoring and Evaluation to Make Good on the Promise of Refugee Sponsorship, Hanne Beirens and Aliyyah Ahad recommend the creation of monitoring and evaluation (M&E) systems to give decisionmakers the tools needed to assure the success of existing, new or proposed sponsorship schemes and make these programs more accountable to the public, refugees and their sponsors.
With refugee resettlement paused amid the COVID-19 pandemic, it is all the more urgent to assure the efficacy of sponsorship programs—and policymakers have been given a window to do so. "As uncertainty looms over whether and when countries that have been hit hard by the pandemic will resume their protection programs, refugee sponsorship, which operates outside of government-set resettlement quotas in some countries, may become an even more critical lifeline for refugees in regions of displacement," Beirens and Ahad write.
The brief highlights the value M&E can bring—from strengthening political commitment to sponsorship, to increasing accountability and facilitating improvements within a program. It also lays out key challenges policymakers and program designers will need to tackle to get an M&E system off the ground.
"For refugee sponsorship to make the transition from an innovative policy pursued by a handful of states to a sustainable and evidence-backed model that can be replicated and scaled up around the world, much more must be done to develop the knowledge base on what works, for whom, when and why," the authors conclude.
The brief is the second on M&E that MPI Europe has published in recent weeks. An earlier report examines how M&E practices can strengthen refugee resettlement systems overall, and offers a road map for creating or strengthening M&E frameworks.
Read today’s policy brief here: www.migrationpolicy.org/research/monitoring-evaluation-refugee-sponsorship.