RefugePoint, in partnership with the Women’s Refugee Commission and 15 other agencies, has created and this month will begin testing a new tool for measuring the quality of life and self-reliance of refugee households. The Self-Reliance Index is expected to help shape how refugee assistance is delivered to lead to better, more sustainable outcomes for refugee families. Initial field-testing of the Self-Reliance Index will begin on January 24 in Jordan with Syrian refugees, in partnership with Mercy Corps. In February, field-testing will continue in Kenya with refugees from Congo, Somalia, Ethiopia and other countries, in partnership with the International Rescue Committee. Amy Slaughter, RefugePoint’s Chief Strategy Officer, and Kellie Leeson, the lead consultant on the project, will travel to the field to provide training and support to the pilot partners.

“We are thrilled to be partnering with Mercy Corps and the International Rescue Committee on this,” said Sasha Chanoff, RefugePoint’s Executive Director. “This has been very much a collaborative effort from start to finish. We sense that there’s a hunger for just such a tool in the field. We all recognize that self-reliance for refugees is needed broadly, but there isn’t a roadmap for how to go about it.”

The Index represents an important step in the humanitarian community coalescing around common goals and accountability to common measurements. With support from the IKEA Foundation and other donors for a broader Self-Reliance Initiative, RefugePoint helped convene a community of practice that jointly developed this tool – a group that includes UNHCR, the U.S. State Department, Danish Refugee Council and Trickle Up among its 17 members. The Self-Reliance Index is the first tool for global use aimed at facilitating self-reliance for refugees in their countries of asylum.

“Refugees are remaining refugees longer and longer,” said Ms. Slaughter. “Many will never be able to go home. They are eager to resume something like a normal life and to rely on themselves instead of on aid. The Self-Reliance Index is an important step in setting standards around what self-reliance can look like for refugees, how it can improve their quality of life, and how we as humanitarian agencies can help them achieve it.

Following the testing phase, the Index is expected to be piloted in additional countries and regions by additional partners. Eventually, it is hoped that the tool will be widely adopted and will lead to improved program design, policies and funding practices. The data gleaned from the Index will also build the evidence base for the important contributions that refugees can make to their host countries and communities.

“We believe that refugees worldwide should be able to resume lives of dignity and self-reliance even when their long-term futures remain uncertain,” said Ms. Slaughter. “That’s what this initiative and tool are about.”