Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative

Today there are over 108 million people forcibly displaced, including 35 million refugees. The average length of displacement is 20 years and growing. As the numbers grow, solutions shrink. Humanitarian aid budgets are spread impossibly thin. An annual average of $30 billion is spent on short-term emergency aid.

Keeping refugees dependent on humanitarian aid is not sustainable or dignified. Refugee households want the opportunity to provide for themselves and their families. They want to work, use their skills, and make decisions about their finances, their lives, and their futures.

In 2018, RefugePoint and the Women’s Refugee Commission co-founded the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative (RSRI), a multi-stakeholder initiative promoting opportunities for refugees to become self-reliant and achieve a better quality of life.

Housed at RefugePoint, the RSRI uses self-reliance programming to innovate global refugee response through the expansion of data and evidence, improvement in standards of practice for self-reliance programming, and creation of conducive policy environments. The initiative partners with NGOs, refugee-led and community-based organizations, governments, funders, academics, and UN agencies to help refugees reach their potential and use their talents to support themselves, their families, and their communities.

Key programs include:

  • Self-Reliance Index: the first-ever global tool for measuring the progress of refugee households toward self-reliance
  • Community of Practice: a network of over 300 professionals engaged in supporting refugee self-reliance that meet bi-monthly

The RSRI aims to reach five million refugees with self-reliance programming by 2027, by expanding data and evidence, promoting opportunities for the exchange of best practices, and cultivating conducive policy environments. We recognize that collective action is necessary to transform and shift humanitarian response away from a ‘care and maintenance’ model towards a model built on self-reliance that responds to the urgency and scale of forced displacement today. The RSRI seeks to play the role of the ‘hub’ for the spokes of learning, action, and advocacy around this complex challenge, mobilizing a wide range of stakeholders around this shared goal and accompanying them over the tipping point to achieve broad change.

Visit the Refugee Self-Reliance Initiative website to learn more.

Self-reliance is the social and economic ability of an individual, a household or a community to meet its essential needs in a sustainable manner.

Definition agreed upon by the Self-Reliance Community of Practice