Refugee Survey and Post Distribution Monitoring Survey

Client: The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)

Ethiopia has been hosting refugees from neighboring countries for three decades. Civil conflicts and drought- induced famines remain the principal factors that drive refugees into Ethiopia. Over the past three years, the number of refugees who are in need of food assistance has increased threefold, reaching around 420,000, and influxes of refugees are expected to continue. Most of the refugees, who have got shelter in Ethiopia, are from Somalia, but there are also large numbers of Sudanese and Eritreans.

Currently, the government of Ethiopia, in collaborationwith UNHCR, WFP and other humanitarian organizations, is rendering protection and assistance to over 336,547 refugees from Somalia (204,660), Eritrea (62,270), Sudan (66,725) and Kenya (2,892) in its 22 camp sites.

Objectives of the Study: The main objective of the study is to establish a baseline data on the selected refugee camps in line with the objectives of the new refugee operation, the WFP standard Monitoring and Evaluation guidelines and corporate reporting requirements. Aligned with the main purpose of the assignment, the following are the specific objectives of this baseline survey.
• Assessing the general food security status of refugee households;
• Identifying preferences and use of food assistance;  
• Determining the community asset level (score) of host communities, specifically in the communities around Somali refugee camps.

To compile the baseline data, primary data was generated through household survey and focus group discussions (FGD). Household survey was conducted in 14 refugee camps located in Tigray, Afar, Oromia, Somali, Benishagul Gumuz and Gambella regions of Ethiopia. FGD was conducted to gather qualitative data and information on assets of hosting communities around refugee camps located in the Ethiopian Somali region. The structured household survey was conducted on 860 refugee households  originating from Eritrea, Kenya, Somalia and Sudan.

It is found that the majority of refugee households have stayed for 5-10 years in the refugee camps. The highest proportion (38%) of Somalian refugees stayed for the longest period, more than ten years compared with other refugee groups.

There seems to be a need for planning accompanying interventions through trainings that would capacitate and empower refugee households in terms of knowledge and skill for self-reliant engagement in their home country communities when repatriated. It is also noted that the active labor age group (15-64) comprises 48% of the total household members, the remaining being a dependent age group. This may have implications for labor development interventions.

The food security of refugee households as measured by the food consumption score (FCS) 46% Eritrean 28% Kenyan 52% Somalian 40% Sudanese

 Across the countries of origin, selling part of the food aid was found to be the major source of cash income of refugee households.  But, selling part of the food aid would reduce the food available for home consumption unless compensated by other food sources. And the major reason for selling part of the food aid is to buy other preferred food items. This would point out that food items distributed to refugee households may need revaluation.

An important finding of the study is related with the food security status of refugee households in terms of different indicators. The study found out that the average number of days the general food distribution lasts is 24.59 days for Eritreans, 21 days for Kenyans and

Somalians and 20 days for Sudanese refugees. It is reported that there are times spent by households without food, the least proportion being that of Somali refugee households.
The food security of refugee households as measured by the food consumption score (FCS) showed that the proportion of refugee households with adequate food security status comprise 46%, 28%, 52% and 40%, respectively, for Eritrean, Kenyan, Somalian and Sudanese groups. The highest proportion of refugee households with adequate (52%) and poor (17%) FCS is recorded with Somalian refugees.
The study found out that the highest value of CSI is recorded for Kenyan

refugees (14.5) followed by Sudanese (12.7) refugees. Somalian refugee households record the lowest value of CSI. Again, Somalian refugee households hold a better food security status in terms of CSI. The better position of the Somalian refugee households could probably be related generally to their longest stay in the camps, creating a wide network with the local communities, and remittances from Somalian Diaspora in Europe, North America and the Middle East.

Refugee households normally use resources in the community in which their camps are located, creating competition between hosting communities and refugee households. The competition for natural resources such as firewood, water and land are growing from time to time, since refugee households gradually want to diversify their resource base.  The competition for resources is observed to cause conflicts between the hosting communities and refugee households. 

On the basis of the study findings and conclusions made above, the following recommendations are made for consideration by the concerned UN organizations, NGOs and government bodies. The fact that the refugees often stay in camps for a long period seems to hint the need for planning training interventions that capacitate and empower refugee households in terms of knowledge and skill for self-reliant engagement in their home country communities after completing their refugee status.  The 48% of the refugee household members are of active labor age group which would need labor development interventions.
As presented in the conclusion section above, the food preference of refugee households is not fully met by the food types distributed. It is thus essential to revaluate the food types to be distributed in order to ensure the food security status of the refugee households. It may also help to raise the average number of days that the distributed food aid lasts and to raise the food consumption score, which is low currently.  

The beneficiaries of some community assets such as community ponds, community tree nursery, gully control structures are limited (mainly 25 % of the community members). There seems to be a need to invest in community assets and supply of alternative energy sources in order to enhance natural resource sustainability and mitigate resource conflicts between hosting communities and refugee households.

Challenges and lessons learnt for the future
Based on the report of the field work, the management and classification of refugee camps into zones and blocks has no uniform standard and pattern. As a result, it was very difficult to use strictly the sampling techniques proposed in the inception report. To overcome this problem, the field team, in discussion with the concerned partners, had to customize the sampling technique  so that it would go  with the situation on the ground and meet the standard scientific requirements stated in the inception report. In the future, to propose uniform sampling techniques, the client and stakeholders need to clearly notify the administrative classification of the refugee camps.

Though it was stated that information on refugees organized at zonal and block level was easily accessible, in most of the camps the list of refugees organized in standard formats was not available. In most of the camps, the food distribution list is prepared at camp level or based on family size. As a result, the field teams were unable to have a uniform sampling frame. Thus, in some camps where the list was not found, the teams used a list prepared for health work purpose.    

Lack of updated lists has also led to the increased number of missing respondents. Some of the respondents selected from the available list had left the camp during the survey time. There was also a high mobility of refugees in and out of the camps. In addition to these, it was difficult to find the status of some households as the refugees were not familiar with each other in some camps. In such unknown situations, the teams were unable to make direct decision about replacing households. This delayed the data collection process.
Finally, the survey time chosen was not suitable, especially for Muslim respondents. The survey period coincided with the holy month of Ramadan and this made some respondents uncomfortable to discuss their food consumption patterns. It also had an impact on the seven- day recall responses as the consumption pattern during this time was completely different from that of the normal period. In planning similar surveys, such matters should be taken into consideration in the future.   

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