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close this bookResettlement of Displaced Population - 1st Edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1995, 60 p.)
close this folderPart 5: Program strategies to aid resettlement & recovery
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentLand based strategies
View the documentAssistance directed to families
View the documentAssistance directed to systems and groups
View the documentCASE STUDY: Options for assistance for Cambodian returnees

Assistance directed to families

An alternative to construction of new settlements are assistance strategies that help families on an individual basis. These strategies assume that families will integrate into existing communities or arrange whatever suits their needs. Examples of other strategies to assist families include food assistance, settlement packages, work projects and sponsorships.

Providing family settlement packages is an example of a family-oriented assistance strategy. For example, in southern Ethiopia after an incident of clan conflict which caused extensive displacement, an assistance package consisting of temporary food relief plus seeds and tools aided families to return and re-establish their livelihood. Family settlement packages include resources provided by organizations which are believed to be useful in attaining self-sufficiency. They may include such goods as personal items, clothes, food staples and spices, cooking utensils, soap and basic household supplies, farming and carpentry tools, seeds and pocket money. The packages may be most applicable when the needs of displaced families are distinct, as described in the sections above, and less applicable when needs are similar to non-displaced families. In the Ogaden area of Ethiopia, UNHCR used community-assistance approaches instead of family-oriented settlement packages. Food aid is often provided to families who are resettling until they are able to harvest or secure their own food.

Often a promise of land or cash compensation is included in settlement packages. The Cambodian repatriation program was initially planned on the assumption that all returning families would be provided a small tract of land. However, when it became evident that it would be very difficult to guarantee each family a suitable plot, a cash compensation alternative was chosen by most families. A review of this strategy concluded that, in this situation, the cash alternative was both preferred and positive because it allowed families the flexibility to arrange whatever circumstances were most suitable in the settlement process (UNHCR, 1993).

Assistance is necessary to supply jobs where the economy is weak.

Since the need for income is a primary criteria for successful settlement, assistance is necessary to supply jobs where the economy is weak. In Central America, the establishment of public works projects offering cash wages have been used as a strategy to aid recovery. In Nicaragua and El Salvador public works projects were organized so the jobs were rotated among needy displaced families. While public works projects have the disadvantage of being short term, they have the great advantage of addressing community needs by improving water and sanitation systems, building schools, etc.

Different versions of sponsorship strategies can be found throughout the world. The sponsorship strategy refers to initiatives for community leaders and villages to assume responsibility for aiding families. In India, for example, after natural disasters it is common for civic clubs and religious institutions to adopt an area or group of displaced people. Sponsorship was also a strategy used extensively in the United States and Canada when large numbers of refugees were being accepted. The sponsorship strategy links interested religious groups, civic groups, and individuals as "sponsors" of newly arriving displaced families to help them find housing, jobs and make social contact. This strategy has proven to be very successful.