This evaluation was performed between 09/16/2016 and 09/15/2017 and the final summary report was submitted on 07/28/2017.

Purpose of the Evaluation

The purpose of this evaluation was to identify strengths and areas for improvement of the Regional Migration program and to capture best practices, lessons learned, and actionable recommendations to inform the regional migration management programming of the US Department of State Bureau for Population, Refugees, and Migration (DoS/PRM) and IOM.


The evaluation began with a structured literature and document review that enabled the Evaluation Team (ET) to better understand the programs in question and to engage in a degree of benchmarking (i.e., identifying good practices from the research to assess their presence in IOM’s Mesoamerica and Horn of Africa programs). The subsequent, field-based portion of the evaluation included primary data collection in several locations across Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya in January-February 2017 and in Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Mexico in April-May 2017. These countries were selected for primary data collection given that they contain the programs’ management hubs (Kenya and Costa Rica) and have relatively high levels of program activity. Across these locations, the ET used key-informant interviews, beneficiary interviews, an online survey, and secondary data analysis of monitoring and performance data. The ET conducted interviews with nearly 300 individuals across six countries.

Evaluation Questions and Summary of Key Findings

Below are the key findings by evaluation question.

EQ1: To what extent are the Regional Migration Programs (RMP) effective in building government capacity to humanely manage migration and address the needs of vulnerable migrants?

    1. To what extent is IOM responsive to feedback provided by beneficiaries including government partners and migrants?
  • The RMPs have led to increases in government officials’ and others’ knowledge of migration and vulnerability and in their attitudes towards migrants. They now understand the diverse drivers of migration and the challenges that migrants face and are, thus, more likely to view them as a group in need of protection rather than as criminals.
  • IOM’s programming has had little impact on officials’ skills to manage migration and address the needs of vulnerable migrants. Participants in IOM trainings and workshops frequently requested additional training that would allow them to develop skills related to migrant screening and assistance to victims of sexual violence.
  • The RMPs can also do more to achieve a wider reach by improving training-of-trainers approaches and e-learning as well as by integrating IOM capacity building content into national civil service and border agency training institutions.

EQ 2: To what extent do the focus areas of the Regional Migration Programs indirectly or directly contribute to strategic regional responses to irregular migration and vulnerable migrants?

  1. Capacity building
  2. Direct assistance to vulnerable migrants
  3. Links to regional migration dialogues
  4. IOM-UNHCR coordination
  5. Emergency migration management
  • IOM support to regional cooperation structures was exemplary in both regions evaluated, and IOM has been gradually producing improvements in regional understandings of, and approaches to, migration despite major practical and political challenges.
  • IOM’s approach to capacity building does not reflect a number of international good practices and does not include a clear strategy rooted in high-quality analysis, rather it tends to rely too often on one-off workshops and trainings.
  • Direct assistance varied widely across the two regions examined but was generally suited to the local contexts, despite room for major improvement in fixed-location structures where IOM and its partners deliver assistance and provide referrals (i.e., Migration Resource Centers in Horn of Africa and Information Hubs in Mesoamerica).


The full report provides a series of overarching and pillar-specific recommendations. The following, however, are the recommendations that the ET perceives as being the most overarching and important.

  • IOM and DoS/PRM should simplify the activities within each RMP, focusing only on those deemed likely to build lasting government capacity.
  • IOM should introduce systematic approaches to monitoring and evaluation of capacity building activities as well as of the other components of the RMPs.
  • IOM should articulate a capacity building strategy reflecting a medium-to-long-term vision with graduated steps for participating officials.
  • IOM should broaden partnerships for capacity building, monitoring and evaluation, institutional learning, and more.
  • IOM and DoS/PRM should design and implement a handover strategy with national and regional level partners.

Beyond the recommendations above, IOM should begin a process of considering – in each region that is home to a DoS/PRM-funded regional migration program – what the findings of this evaluation mean for their work.

Additional information on PRM’s use of the evaluation recommendations can be found in the PRM Regional Migration Program Models Evaluation Action Plan.

Links to Evaluation Reports

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future