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
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,
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