UNHCR develops new livelihood strategic plan for Malawi

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it has developed a comprehensive livelihoods strategic plan for Malawi operation.

A group photograph for participants to HSELA 2017 workshop in Lilongwe.
UNHCR Resident Representative to Malawi, (In red), Monique Ekoko emphasizing a point to the participants during the workshop. pix by Tione Andsen

UNHCR Resident Representative to Malawi, Monique Ekoko disclosed this in Lilongwe Thursday during the presentation of the Household Socio Economic and Livelihoods Assessment (HSELA) and related reports for 2017 programming.

She said the key priority area in the strategic plan is the protection of refugees, asylum seekers and indentified host communities.

“In order to have a robust and responsive livelihoods plan, UNHCR and government of Malawi, together with our colleagues in the Regional for Southern Africa (ROSA) and headquarters in Geneva agreed to a HSELA in 2016,” Ekoko explained.

She pointed out that the gathering was aimed at sharing the results from survey with reference to the Standard Expanded Nutrition Survey (SENS) 2017 and the Joint Assessment Mission 2017.

Ekoko said Malawi operation is responsible for over 27,400 refugees and asylum seekers in Dzaleka camp in Dowa comprising over 10,775 households.

“In addition there about 3,200 other People of Concern (PoCs) comprising 800 household living in Luwani camp in Neno district,” UNHCR Resident representative added.

Ekoko said UNCHR in partnership with the Government of Malawi through a multi –year strategy is aimed at investing in the livelihoods and protection of refugees, asylum seekers and host communities for the first time since 1994.

“This cooperation aims to establish long-term sustainable livelihoods strategies that maximize the resources we mobilize. The livelihoods model is based on building and strengthening the capacity of this combined population to invest in sustainable income generation,” she outlined.

Ekoko said UNHCR and implementing partners would like to work closely with local district administrations and traditional authorities in evidence based livelihood development.

UNCHR representative viewed that a key challenge that had been identified in sustaining long-term livelihoods investment is the protracted nature of poverty, impact of a combination of droughts and floods and vulnerability in the camps and surrounding areas with complex causal links.

“A sound and responsive livelihoods programme requires good evidence to understand the breath and extent of it, and how different groups or classes of refugees or asylum seekers and host communities are affected,” she narrated.

Ekoko admitted that previous livelihood programme did not result in the intended outcomes hence the need for fresh mandate to design a new livelihood strategy that is backed by evidence.

She said HSELA 2017 serves programme baseline information giving a comprehensiveness across all areas including registration, specific needs, shelter, energy, water and sanitation Hygiene (WASH), assets, livelihoods, coping  mechanisms, food expenditure and consumption, humanitarian assistance, information and communication and self wealth ranking at household levels.

“We hope that this comprehensive data will be employed as an analytical tool for monitoring the impact and performance of programme in our strategic plan 2017 to 2021.” Ekoko pointed out.

Senior Administrative officer in the office of the Commissioner for Refugees in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Samuel Malowa said it was gratifying to note that host communities are benefiting much from the resources provided by UNHCR and partners in the districts of operation.

He said the resources range from health facilities, education infrastructure and services.

“It is significant that in the HSELA, we included for the first time host communities in the survey with the view to get better information at the household level,” Malowa added.

He said this was also the case with Standard expanded Nutrition Survey where it covered host communities.

The meeting had various stakeholders including District Commissioners, Traditional Leaders, refugee community leaders, camp administrators, government officials, UNCHR staff, Consultants, World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agricultural  Organizations (FAO) officials and the Media.

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