Helping refugee households to help themselves

Promoting the Self-Reliance Index in order to better channel resources and enhance refugee self-reliance

Helping refugee households to help themselves

Promoting the Self-Reliance Index in order to better channel resources and enhance refugee self-reliance

Contact details

Submitted by

Simar Singh, Senior Programs Officer Self-Reliance Initiative


[email protected]



Twitter: @RefugeeSRI 

Introduction to the project




Begun in 2017, the Self-Reliance Index will be launched for broad use in March 2020. It is expected to evolve and improve as its use expands. 


The purpose of the Self-Reliance Index (SRI) is to establish whether our programs contribute to greater self-reliance and a better quality of life for refugee households.

Refugee livelihoods are monitored to capture changes in income, assets and savings. To achieve this, broader aspects of social circumstances may need to be considered, such as housing, food security, health, safety and community connections. 

The SRI measures the household according to 12 criteria considered critical for self-reliance. It is mainly intended to support those providing services to refugees in countries of first asylum, focusing on the 97 per cent globally that do not benefit from resettlement or repatriation each year. 

The tool was developed over two years and involved 45 experts from 19 contributing partners representing NGOs, UNHCR, research bodies, foundations, and government agencies. It is in the final stages of testing and its launch is planned for March 2020. 

Project aims 

The Self-Reliance Index will support Objective 2 of the Global Compact – to enhance refugee self-reliance -- by promoting the measurement of self-reliance, accumulating evidence for effective programming and through enabling the humanitarian community and donors to channel resources to best effect. It will also help to monitor global progress against Objective 2 over time.

Resources used

Financial resources: support provided by: IKEA Foundation, G. Barrie Landry, Landry Family Foundation, Patrick J. McGovern Foundation, ELMA Relief Foundation, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, Imago Dei Fund, Alchemy Foundation and other major donors.


  • Asylum Access
  • Danish Refugee Council
  • HIAS
  • IKEA Foundation
  • International Rescue Committee
  • JIPS
  • Mercy Corps
  • Refugee Studies Centre, Oxford 
  • Regional Durable Solutions Secretariat
  • Samuel Hall
  • Solutions Alliance
  • Trickle Up
  • University of Michigan
  • WANA Institute


Work on the SRI began in March 2017 and the development of the tool has taken longer than expected. Challenges encountered included balancing disparate input from numerous contributors and minimizing the bias of assessors. The SRI has undergone several revisions following field testing in Kenya, Jordan and Mexico. Those tests highlighted the need for simplicity and clarity to make the tool universal, reliable and valid. 

How the challenges are being addressed

The challenges were overcome by several rounds of testing, the engagement of academic advisers in developing surveys, and input from partners. Special thanks to the field-testing organizations Asylum Access, Danish Refugee Council, IRC, Mercy Corps and RefugePoint. 

Next steps

Version 2.0 of the SRI will be launched in March 2020 for broad use. It currently uses CommCare as the mobile data gathering platform. A mechanism for aggregating, analysing and reporting on global SRI data is being designed. The hope is that the data will eventually prove useful in broadly guiding policy, programming and funding.