Social protection and livelihoods for Ecuadorian and refugee families
The project in brief
Ecuadorian Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES)
In August 2019, the project was extended to three more communities in the Northern Border.
The project aims to connect refugees, and Ecuadorians, with existing MIES social safety net programs and services. The initiative benefits refugee households in parity with Ecuadorians, with three main interventions: social protection floors (universal access to education and health care, and cash transfers), Family Accompaniment Service and Economic Inclusion Centers.
Target group/number of beneficiaries: 225 households (90 refugees, 135 Ecuadorian) in two communities. In August 2019, the project has been extended to three more localities of the Northern Border with 288 additional households (150 refugees, 138 Ecuadorians).
The project is anchored in MIES’ organizational structure and benefits from multilevel administration (national, regional and local level). MIES provides technical support through skilled staff in economic and social inclusion, physical and technological infrastructure.
MIES funds the cash transfer for Ecuadorian Families and opens services of Family Accompaniment and Economic Inclusion Centers for refugees, by adapting its national tools, methodologies and protocols.
Within the institutional partnership with MIES, UNHCR provides technical assistance and financial support as follow:
- Transfer of toolkits, methodologies and monitoring tools.
- Capacity building by placing experts in MIES local offices (two social workers and two economic inclusion experts) and one national specialist consultant.
- UNHCR funds the cash transfer for refugee households, technical skills training and seed capital contribution for Ecuadorian and refugee households.
HIAS receives funds and technical assistance from UNHCR and plays the role of implementing partner under the leadership and guidance of MIES.
Main activities of the Good Practice
- The project targets the most vulnerable (extreme poor) households with children under 18 years of age. Both, refugees and Ecuadorians, receive services in equal conditions.
- 18 month-intervention based on home visits by two professionals: a coach and an economic inclusion expert.
- 5 dimensions: identification, education and child labor, health, economic inclusion and family dynamics.
- Additional seed capital, vocational scholarships, and employment services are provided.
- Families are connected to universal services (health/education) through MIES/governmental referral system, independently of the family status.
Challenges and how they were overcome
- MIES Family Accompaniment Service and Economic Inclusion Centers lacked human mobility approach.
- Ecuadorian government faces pressure regarding its social services, funding is largely crisis-based.
- Cash transfers are critical to the survival and stabilization of refugee households, but existing social protection programs have its own targeting criteria and limited coverage, and foreigners do not legally have access to them.
- Venezuelan emergency oriented MIES efforts to the humanitarian response.
How they were overcome
- MIES protocols and methodologies were adapted to be suitable for families in human mobility. MIES staff was trained international refugee law and Ecuadorian Human Mobility Law.
- Legal and funding barriers preventing refugee households to received cash transfers and family accompaniment services directly from MIES where solved by partnering with UNHCR and HIAS
- MIES implemented specific services to target Venezuelan emergency and stablished the difference between humanitarian/emergency response services and durable solution interventions.
Results of the Good Practice
- 225 households are connected with universal services (health/education) and receive close mentorship with Family Accompaniment Service.
- Households improved self-reliance and access to decent work by connecting them with economic inclusion services: 67 microbusinesses reinforced with seed capital and technical training, 50 vocational training courses, 80% of households with bank saving accounts.
- 100% of refugee households received non-contributory assistance (cash transfers).
- Women are the main recipients of mentorships, cash transfers, trainings (95% of households headed by women). Providing economic autonomy for women has proven to reduce SGBV.
- 11 community-based activities have reinforced social cohesion and resilience between refugees and Ecuadorians to address community challenges together.
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
Ecuador is Latin America’s largest refugee hosting country, having recognized 68,203 by August 2019. Almost all of them were displaced by violence in neighboring Colombia.
Ecuador’s new Human Mobility Law, approved in January 2017, marks a great advance in the matter of comprehensive protection for people in human mobility and in the access of services available for them.
In 2018, as part of the country’s commitment to the integration of refugees, UNHCR and the Ministry of Social and Economic Inclusion (MIES) signed a letter of agreement for the inclusion of refugees in social policies and programs.
MIES is the public entity that provides leadership on: public policy, regulations, programs and services for social and economic inclusion, care during the life cycle with focus on children, youth, elderly, persons with disabilities and households living in poverty and extreme poverty. As part of the governmental social protection system, MIES is in charge of the conditional cash transfer program (Bono de Desarrollo Humano), which is linked to households with children under 18 years of age with the Coach and Economic Inclusion services.
Under this umbrella, MIES, in collaboration with UNHCR and HIAS, joins efforts to reinforce the National Coaching Service and the Economic Inclusion Centers with components of proven methodology for refugee self-reliance interventions, and resulting in the implementation of a project on the Northern Border.
This project was designed before the Venezuelan situation. It bridges humanitarian action with development and tries to connect mostly Colombian households living in extreme poverty with MIES´ existing services.
In line with the Global Compact on Refugees, this project makes a direct contribution to objective number two: Enhance Refugee Self-Reliance. The project is time-bound (18 months), prioritizes 5 dimensions (identification, education and child labor, health, economic inclusion and family dynamics) and sets families on a positive growth trajectory that continues after the program end.
Social protection programs are more effective when they are combined with family accompaniment and economic inclusion comprehensive services. A multi-sectoral approach is therefore implemented. It brings together governmental bodies, international partners, stakeholders and local actors, and aims to reduce the gap of social exclusion.
MIES conceived vulnerable families as subjects of rights and active actors. Public policy focusses on mentoring to build confidence, reinforces family co-responsibility on health care and education, and increases opportunities for decent work and self-reliance.
In addition, UNCHR´s financial and technical support is directly associated with objective number one: Ease Pressure on the Host Countries Involved.
- Harmonize MIES administrative and operational systems (registry of services provided to refugees, M&E).
- Collect evidence to encourage funding to escalate the intervention in other localities.
Maria Augusta Montalvo, Undersecretary of Family, MIES
Diego Valencia, Undersecretary of Economic Inclusion, MIES
Maybritt Rasmussen, National Program Officer UNHCR