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Adapting the Graduation Approach for Refugees in Zambia – Full Case Study

By: Sanchez, Ines A. & Simanowitz, Anton


Self Help Africa

Trickle Up


In 2016, the US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (BPRM) provided a three-year grant for Trickle Up to support UNHCR and a number of international non-governmental organizations to test the design and implementation of Graduation programs with refugees in multiple countries. In spring 2019, Trickle Up commissioned an evaluation to assess the results of the program and synthesize the emerging lessons learned. As part of the evaluation, this case study explores the experience of UNHCR Zambia and its implementing partner Self Help Africa (SHA) adapting and implementing the GA to a UNHCR refugee settlement in North-Western Zambia.

Over the past 50 years, Zambia has been a haven to refugees escaping conflict in surrounding countries, including Angola, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Somalia and Zimbabwe. The first significant influx of refugees in Zambia was from Angola, in the late 1960s in response to the anti-colonial liberation struggle from Portugal, and in the 1970s as a result of civil conflict. The next wave of refugees came from Mozambique and Namibia in the 1980s as a result of civil war, and then from Rwanda following the genocide in 1994. Most current refugees arrive as a result of the ongoing conflicts in the DRC. In 2017, some 100,000 Congolese fled to neighboring countries, joining the 585,000 already in exile. Nearly 55 percent are children, many crossing borders unaccompanied or separated. Zambia currently hosts over 76,000 persons of concern, including 50,000 refugees (83% from the DRC), 23,000 Rwandan and Angolan former refugees who have been given the opportunity for local integration and eventually citizenship, and 3,000 asylums seekers.

Adapting the Graduation Approach for Refugees in Zambia - Full Case Study