Integration Outcomes for Forcibly Displaced Persons

A Holistic Co-Design Approach
Good Practices

Integration Outcomes for Forcibly Displaced Persons

A Holistic Co-Design Approach

The project in brief

The project is implemented by Refugee Congress and partners in the United States of America. It began in 2020 and is currently ongoing.

Refugee Congress, Refugee Council USA, and the Ethiopian Community Development Council undertook an innovative and groundbreaking co-design study to examine how the narrow integration measurement of employment can be reimagined to consider quality of life and other factors more reflective of complex lived experiences of Forcibly Displaced People (FDPs). The study produced FDP-led, data-backed recommendations and tools for reframing integration metrics, and we will be piloting these in partnership with a Chicagoland resettlement agency in 2024.

Our goals with the initial study were:

  1. To reimagine, from perspective of and in partnership with FDPs, the most effective measurements of integration
  2. To adopt a study approach that not only considers how best to measure integration but also how best to leverage co-design in developing a methodology informed by those with lived experience.
  3. To produce an actionable Self-Assessment tool that could be piloted for use by newly resettled refugees and resettlement agencies.
  4. To produce actionable best practice in co-design processes with FDPs.

In our upcoming pilot, undertaken by RCUSA, World Relief, and Refugee Congress, we will test the Self-Assessment tool among a sample of 75-100 FDPs, with the goals of:

  1. Strengthening the tool instrument
  2. Ensuring meaningful outcomes from tool usage

Main activities of the Good Practice

At the core of our research and upcoming pilot is the practice of co-design.

Below are key recommendations for ensuring the success of a co-designed project. Future projects, studies, and initiatives related to refugees and forced displacement are encouraged to incorporate elements of co-design, building on the recommendations and lessons learned here:

  • Create a co-design framework that is inclusive, flexible, and realistic with its timeline. Co-design, by definition, brings together individuals with varied lived experiences, and it takes time to build rapport, understand differences in working styles, cultural norms, and skill sets. Taking time to understand team dynamics will help foster consensus on ways of working.
  • Define the expertise, skills, and experience needed to fully execute project objectives. No one project can accomplish everything. Before undertaking a co-design process, take time to identify skill sets needed to accomplish deliverables and recruit team members at the onset that collectively meet the needed skills.
  • Clearly communicate expectations, roles, and responsibilities. In every project, there are circumstances beyond our control. Without clear communication, team members will find it difficult to succeed in their roles, thus creating undue burden on the entire team.
  • Allow time to emotionally process. When crafting a co-design process, remember that subject matter affects different team members in different ways. From focus group discussions to data analysis, the content can be emotionally triggering, and it is important to provide the space needed for reflection.

Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice

The initial research study and upcoming pilot were made possible by:

  1. The longstanding, robust relationships of our organizations with FDP leaders in communities across the US.
  2. Dedicated funding from private philanthropy.
  3. RCUSA’s relationships with resettlement agencies in the coalition.

Partners involved

What challenges were encountered in delivering the project and how were they overcome?


While we faced critical challenges in data collection because of the confluence of COVID-19 and strained capacity due to emerging humanitarian crises, one of the major obstacles the research team encountered was accessing needed information to identify, examine, and measure integration trends in the United States. The private nature of funding agreements with resettlement agencies added a layer of complications in learning about how different refugee-serving stakeholders intend to support the long-term integration of refugees and other forcibly displaced populations.

How they were overcome

We were able to adjust our focus group data collection to virtual format and triangulate additional data sources to compensate for a lack of publicly available reporting data.

Results of the Good Practice

  • We have concrete, tested best practices in successful co-design methodology that has been further leveraged in the creation of the U.S. Refugee Advisory Board.
  • We secured funding to be able to test the survey tools.
  • Partner organizations and government agencies have sought assistance with implementing co-design methodology, thus improving and strengthening partnerships with FDPs.

In what way does the good practice meet one or more of the four objectives of the Global Compact on Refugees?

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

The impact of the report was to provide data-backed, refugee-recommended metrics for integration. Implementing these metrics will not only improve refugee self-reliance but will do so through a more holistic approach that can provide a smoother, quicker, and more efficient integration experience for newly arrived refugees.

Next steps

Our pilot will be launched in January of 2024.

Submitted by

Nili Sarit Yossinger, Executive Director, Refugee Congress, [email protected]

Contact the project

[email protected]