Integration of Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees in Ecuador
The project in brief
The project began in September 2020. It will finish in August 2022, with a chance that it will be renewed for another two years.
The project provides decent housing to Venezuelan migrants in three provinces of Ecuador: Pichincha, Manabi and El Oro.
There are two housing modalities: one builds a network of Ecuadorian landlords and provides three months of rent assistance to Venezuelan renters, the other makes structural improvements to multifamily housing units where many Venezuelan families live together. Housing interventions are the gateway to the local protection network and to the livelihoods training offered by implementing partner COOPI.
Overall goal: To improve the well-being and integration of the most vulnerable persons in Ecuador, including Venezuelan migrants and refugees, for the benefit of all.
Objective 1: To facilitate the connection of beneficiaries with the local protection network in each of the three locations.
Objective 2: To facilitate access to adequate shelter/housing in the long term and short to assure beneficiaries’ wellbeing and support the integration progress.
Objective 3: To expand income generation of beneficiaries through relevant trainings and support for self-employment.
- Funds from US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM)
- Coordination with UNHCR and local NGO working groups
- Ecuadorian laws that allow Venezuelans to pursue regularized legal status
Main activities of the Good Practice
Shelter is the starting point for all of the project’s activities. The goal is to get people into safe housing situations. For some this means getting them out of shelters and into single-family apartments owned by trusted landlords. For others it means that AVSI staff intervene in multifamily housing units where Venezuelans already live, making structural adjustments to make the spaces more dignified and organizing community projects. Once a Venezuelan family has received housing assistance, they are entered into the protection and livelihoods components as well. Some receive multipurpose cash transfers to help pay for basic items. Everyone receives case management support to get them connected to the right protection mechanism for them, be it legal services, health services, etc. Finally, for livelihoods, at least one person from each family is enrolled in an employment, entrepreneurship, or skills building course given by COOPI.
Challenges and how they were overcome
- There is xenophobia among the Ecuadorian community towards Venezuelans. This shows up particularly in housing transactions.
- Complicated policies around regularization of status for migrants – without status migrants can’t get formal jobs.
- Communication issues with beneficiary community about expectations from the livelihoods activities.
How they were overcome
- Project staff worked closely with Ecuadorian landlord community to build trust, resolve issues and set realistic expectations.
- AVSI and COOPI pivoted more to informal income generation activities and entrepreneurship since we were not going to be able to find formal jobs for the Venezuelans.
- COOPI held meetings with beneficiaries to hear their complaints and set expectations going forward.
Results of the Good Practice
- In the project’s first year, 500 families (2,000 individuals) received monthly cash transfers. Some for rent, some multipurpose.
- 99% of recipients of Cash-Based Intervention are able to meet their basic needs thanks to the support
- 636 protection cases managed to completion / connection with proper service provider
- 1200 people moved into safe housing situations and 648 people benefitting from improvements to multifamily housing units
- 400 people completed livelihoods trainings on trades, employability or entrepreneurship
- 100 start-ups received seed capital
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
The project eases the pressure on host countries by helping migrants get out of shelters and into formal housing and by managing their cases through the social protection system.
Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
The good practice enhances refugee self-reliance by giving people the housing security necessary to integrate into their new community and develop personally and by giving them tools and skills to leverage toward income generation that can make their lives financially sustainable.
The project will end in August, 2022, but has the possibility of being renewed for two more years.
Further support required for the project to continue or scale up
To scale up our good practice to reach more neighborhoods in each of the three provinces, or even expand to other provinces and cities, we would need more funding from the international cooperation community and we would need to partner with other NGOs and CSOs in Ecuador who have a presence in those other areas.