The PROSPECTS Partnership

A multi-annual humanitarian-development partnership to help transform how host governments and other stakeholders respond to situations of forced displacement.
Good Practices

The PROSPECTS Partnership

A multi-annual humanitarian-development partnership to help transform how host governments and other stakeholders respond to situations of forced displacement.
Woman holding a laptop

The project in brief

The project is spearheaded and funded by the Government of the Netherlands, and implemented by UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), UNICEF and the World Bank. It operates at global and regional level, and focuses on eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa and in the East and Horn of Africa. The first phase of PROSPECTS ran from 2019 to 2023 and the second will run from 2024 to 2027. 

PROSPECTS puts the humanitarian-development nexus into practice by promoting increased collaboration between humanitarian and development actors, according to the commitment to New Ways of Working. The aim is to leverage comparative advantages and improve coordination and efficiency.

The partnership aims to strengthen economic and social inclusion of displaced women, men and children within host communities through interventions in education and learning, employment and livelihoods, protection and social protection, and critical infrastructure.

Its objective is to enhance the inclusion of forcibly displaced people, through mechanisms such as integration in national protection systems, delivery of services and social protection. It works to build the self-reliance of displaced and host communities through strengthening livelihoods, making them less vulnerable and reducing their long-term reliance on external aid. Finally, the Partnership's work is geared towards strengthening their overall resilience, including mental health and psychological and social support.

PROSPECTS partners contribute to those areas through improving access to rights for forcibly displaced and host communities, improving access to basic services and national systems, and enhancing access to socio-economic opportunities.

This requires taking a longer-term view, uniting the work and expertise of humanitarian and development agencies. By bringing together the five agencies involved in PROSPECTS and the Dutch government to support host countries, the Partnership increases the impact of each entity’s individual actions and activities by using our combined resources, knowledge, knowhow and reach. Working together, the partners seek to both improve programming and policy impact under the Partnership and to improve effectiveness and efficiency of development approaches to forced displacement overall.

As such, PROSPECTS is one of the leading bilateral pledges under the Economic Inclusion and Social Protection multistakeholder pledge formulated around the Global Refugee Forum 2023.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a refugee or a Kenyan anymore – I can work from home, I can get a job, I can get paid, and I am glad about that.

- Mulki Abdirahman, e-commerce student in Kenya, on the benefits of receiving ID documents when seeking employment as a refugee.

Main activities of the Good Practice

Activities are centred on the pillars of education and training, employment with dignity and livelihoods, protection and social protection, and critical infrastructure. That said, the objective is to create cross-pillar programming to enhance inclusion, self-reliance and resilience.

Specific activities are adapted to the context of each country and always benefit both displaced and host communities. They take into account the different capacities and needs of people of all ages, genders and other characteristics, with a focus on women and girls, persons living with disabilities, and youth.

System change, to improve effectiveness and efficiency of development approaches to forced displacement, is an important aim. Activities to achieve this include joint planning, programming and policy dialogue, efforts to improve localisation, accountability to affected persons and meaningful participation of forcibly displaced and host communities, and efforts to improve donor programming and policy coordination.

Among the main activities from 2024 onwards are:

  • Improving system coherence through joint policy analysis, dialogue and programming;
  • Supporting national, regional and local authorities and institutions to improve policies, and put them into effect, to ensure greater access to rights across a range of issues;
  • Enhancing access to territory, reception, asylum, registration and documentation, and finding ways to improve asylum systems;
  • Strengthening inclusive national systems and services, such as education, employment, active labour market programmes, business development and financial services, child protection and social protection;
  • Mitigating specific risks and vulnerabilities faced by displaced children, women, and other marginalized groups and ensuring their meaningful participation in the search for solutions.

Elements which helped facilitate the implementation of the good practice

PROSPECTS aims to strengthen collaboration between the UN system, international financial organisations, and national governments of hosting states. To facilitate collaboration, at country level PROSPECTS teams meet along with the embassy of the Government of the Netherlands; multi-annual country programming is designed on collaboration with host governments and aligned with that country’s refugee response plans.

At the global level, all partners attend a monthly steering committee meeting, while there are global-level working groups for communications and advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, and learning.

Accessing the Government of the Netherland’s development cooperation funding allows the Partnership to take a multi-year and multi-sector approach that goes beyond humanitarian support and tackles policy and development challenges for both forcibly displaced and host communities.

The Partnership benefits from and strengthens existing bilateral partnerships between several of its members, including:

  • UNHCR-UNICEF Strategic Collaboration Framework
  • World Bank Group – UNHCR partnership, including the UNHCR-IFC Joint Initiative
  • ILO – UNHCR Joint Action Plan

Partners involved

  • The Government of the Netherlands
  • The International Finance Corporation (IFC)
  • The International Labour Organization (ILO)
  • The World Bank

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


Working in a partnership that unites humanitarian and development actors requires an understanding and appreciation of our differences. These include different mandates, interlocutors, budget structures, programming cycles, organisational set-up, and sometimes an entirely different vocabulary. In particular, the difference in planning cycles and budget structures make joint programming challenging. Another issue is the different way in which we have been conducting analysis of laws, policies and practices related to access to and enjoyment of rights for all in countries hosting the forcibly displaced.

How they were overcome

Continuous dialogue, joint missions and workshops at national, regional and global level have helped partners understand each other’s organisational structure and modus operandi, appreciate each agency’s respective mandates and unique contribution to the forced displacement space, and helped us arrive at shared terminology.

The multi-year nature of the Partnership builds in sufficient flexibility for each agency to follow their internal planning and programming cycles while contributing to a joint programme through aligned or joint activities with partners. PROSPECTS is helping partners innovate, not only in our programming but also in the way we collaborate at country, regional, and global level.

Identifying when and how we can harness capacities and meet the needs of forcibly displaced populations and host communities together requires reliable, up-to-date data and continuous analysis, especially in those PROSPECTS countries where national and regional dynamics continue to change. In the second phase of the Partnership, we will focus even more on arriving at a joint understanding of the policy environment in each location to ensure partners work towards the same medium and long-term objectives of inclusion and resilience.

Results of the Good Practice

Some achievements from Phase 1 include:

  • 51 policies, plans, laws related to forcibly displaced and host communities adopted and/or amended that address inclusive access to quality social protection and protection services.
  • 655,000 children and youth supported to complete primary and/or secondary education, including accelerated programmes and early childhood education.
  • 218,000 people issued with work permits and/or business registrations.
  • 108,000 people assisted by business development services and financial institutions to develop earning and livelihood opportunities.
  • 25,000 apprenticeships, on-the-job training and work-based learning opportunities and social enterprises created or developed.

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

Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries

The PROSPECTS Partnership operates in countries with some of the largest numbers of displaced people in the world. The activities outlined above are clearly set within the Global Compact aim of easing pressure on host countries.

Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance

Enhancing self-reliance, improving livelihoods, increasing resilience for both displaced and host communities are, as explained above, at the heart of PROSPECTS activities.

Objective 3: Expand access to third-country solutions

A secondary impact of the programme is that by equipping refugees with education and skills, it may help to facilitate third-country solutions or enhance opportunities for sustainable reintegration and rebuilding upon their return.

The next phase [of PROSPECTS] is about making that commitment towards including refugees – in their host communities, in national systems, in labour markets. But also at a human level, making them part and parcel of the communities in which they live.

- Ana Uzelac, Senior Policy Officer, The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Next steps

Phase 2 of PROSPECTS began in January 2024 and will run until the end of 2027. 

Submitted by

  • Barney Thompson, Senior Global Editor, Global Communications Service, UNHCR - [email protected]
  • Mirjam Burman, Project Coordination Officer, Donor Relations and Resource Mobilization, UNHCR
  • Clara Van Praag, Partnership Officer, Resilience and Solutions, UNHCR