Evaluation Purpose and Questions
This report presents the final evaluation of programs for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the Caucasus region, funded by the United States Department of State (DOS) Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM). The evaluation covers programs implemented from fiscal year (FY) 2015 through FY 2020 in three countries—Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan—by various international organizations and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). The evaluation of the programs focused on activities implemented in Georgia during FY 2017–2019. The purpose of the evaluation was to understand the extent to which (1) PRM-funded programs met the humanitarian needs of refugees and IDPs in Georgia and elsewhere in the Caucasus; (2) the programs provided durable and interim solutions for refugees and IDPs in Georgia and the Caucasus; and (3) the refugees and IDPs were satisfied with the quality of services received. The evaluation also looked at how well PRM-supported activities in the region have supported the Bureau’s Functional Bureau Strategy (FBS).
PRM Assistance Objectives
In the past five years, PRM programming in the South Caucasus has been guided by the following four objectives:
- Seek durable solutions for vulnerable displaced persons in protracted situations,
- Improve asylum systems,
- Prevent and reduce statelessness, and
- Support regional contingency planning efforts.
To achieve these objectives, PRM has funded humanitarian assistance supporting the work of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNCHR), International Organization for Migration (IOM), International Committee of The Red Cross (ICRC), and various NGOs. FY 2017 saw a shift in policy to end gap-filling programming through NGOs in Georgia and Armenia by the end of FY 2019 and transition to funding programming in the region through UNHCR, ICRC, and IOM only. Development of exit strategies, in consultation with host governments and partners, became a top priority and was added to PRM’s program objectives.
The evaluation was conducted between July and December 2020 and involved three weeks of fieldwork in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan conducted remotely because of restrictions related to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In consultation with PRM and the program partners, the evaluation team (ET) selected a wide range of stakeholders, covering central and municipality-level government officials in Georgia and staff from PRM, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and international organizations and NGOs in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, including their subgrantees implementing activities in Abkhazia and communities living along the Administrative Boundary Lines (ABLs) in Georgia. Because of COVID-19-related restrictions, the ET had to rely on the partner organizations for access to and lists of beneficiaries for qualitative interview data. The evaluation team interviewed IDPs, refugees, and asylum seekers in both Georgia and Armenia. The purposive selection process allowed a wide range of views and opinions.
The ET analyzed qualitative data from 30 key informant interviews (KIIs) with international organizations, NGOs, and government stakeholders (43 participants in total), in the three countries as well as interviews with 62 beneficiaries in Georgia and 34 beneficiaries in Armenia, with a total of 139 (61 percent female) respondents. Analysis also included data collected from mini-survey questions embedded in the KIIs11 and online surveys administered to the interviewed partners and government officials to supplement the data collected during the interviews and to answer the evaluation questions (EQs). Limitations included the COVID-19-related restrictions and the fact that some of the activities were implemented and concluded several years ago. As mentioned, because of COVID-19-related restrictions, the ET had to conduct all the interviews remotely, including the beneficiary interviews, and no group discussions were possible.
Findings and Conclusions
Based on the data collected, reviewed, and analyzed, the evaluation found that the PRM-funded program activities achieved or exceeded the intended results. The activities align with generally accepted international best practices12 in situations of protracted displacement.