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Durable Solutions

Last updated: 24 May 2023


IOM’s support to resolve internal displacement is an area of work that is of increasing importance. With more than 60 million individuals internally displaced at the end of 2022, it has become critical to look beyond addressing immediate needs, find solutions to end displacement, and restore progress towards development.

Although displacement is typically triggered by sudden or slow onset events, such as attacks by armed groups, flooding or droughts, it is underlying vulnerabilities and development failures which tend to render populations susceptible to these events. As such, IOM believes that sustainably resolving displacement requires an understanding of underlying factors and long-term support to restore the conditions essential to sustainable solutions such as access to housing, services, employment and cohesive communities. At the same time, in order to prevent future displacement, IOM is seeking to expand the reach of early warning systems and strengthen anticipatory action to enable communities to mitigate and withstand the impact of conflict and environmental events.

The current scale of internal displacement demands a change in the way we collectively work. As the UN Secretary-General (SG) Action Agenda on Internal Displacement (2022) notes, "more of the same is not enough". Beyond simply scaling up, when global resources are already under strain, this also means changing and being smarter about the way we work including, in particular, how we work together to prevent displacement crises; how we ensure a solutions-friendly approach from the onset of crises; and how we avoid overreliance on humanitarian action and promote earlier and more predictable engagement of development actors.

IOM's support to the resolution of displacement

Working in partnership with governments, communities, humanitarian agencies, and development actors, such as UNDP and UNHABITAT, IOM’s ‘prevention and solutions’ portfolio has grown to over USD 500 million per year across 69 displacement-affected countries. In support of the SG’s Action Agenda, IOM continues to build on lessons learned and scale-up efforts on the prevention and sustainable solutions to displacement, focused, in particular on the following five areas:

  • Community defined, locally led development solutions: Empowering displacement affected populations and their leadership to be the drivers of solutions.
  • Strengthening policy, governance and planning: Supporting the establishment of conducive policy, planning and governance processes.
  • Data for solutions: Establishing the data and analytical frameworks as well as data partnerships for evaluating displacement drivers, obstacles and opportunities for solutions.
  • Partnerships: Strengthening cooperation to leverage comparative advantages.
  • Prevention, early action and solutions from the start: Investing before, during and after displacement crises to mitigate the impact and engage in solutions from the start.

Community defined, locally led development solutions

IOM sees communities impacted by displacement as its greatest resource in resolving displacement. Activating their nascent capacities not only frames and drive solutions, but reduces needs and dependencies. Given the current scale of displacement, attaining solutions will only be achievable if displacement-affected communities are committed to, benefiting from and shaping the process. The SG’s Action Agenda recognized the importance of this, citing the critical need for people-centred solutions and specifically, Community Based Planning (CBP).

CBP is the centerpiece of IOM’s approach to resolving displacement in current programming in Ethiopia, Somalia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Mozambique, Papua New Guinea, South Sudan, Philippines, Sudan among others. In 2022, IOM trained an additional 200 staff, civil society and government officials in CBP processes, across 40 countries in preparation for the global scale up plan for resolving displacement.

In communities where displacement has been caused by conflict, or is driving tension over scarce resources, CBP, as a process, contributes to restoring the social fabric needed to establish inclusive, resilient societies, by creating space for dialogue, addressing grievances and ultimately enhancing capacities for peaceful-co-existence. As a senior government official in Southern Somalia remarked: "through CBP, we build the social infrastructure and then use the social infrastructure to build the physical infrastructure".

Strengthening policy, governance and planning

Empowering and providing displaced persons with the resources to drive recovery and development processes, described above, must be accompanied by a conducive policy environment and governance system to ensure solutions provided are sustainable. Alongside dedicated UN and NGO programmes to support solutions to displacement, it is critical that the needs of displaced persons are addressed in national development planning, programmes and legislation, led by governments. The absence of conducive policies and legislation, such as those related to land tenure or urban expansion, will present a barrier to sustainable solutions in the long-term.

In view of these issues, supporting governments to mainstream migration and displacement into national and local plans and policies is one of IOM’s top priorities. One example of the Organization’s work in this area is the IOM-UNDP Global Programme on Making Migration Work for Sustainable Development Programme (M4SD), which focuses on integrating migration and displacement into national and local development or sectoral policies and plans such as health, employment or education. This enables mobile groups to gain equitable access to services and opportunities through a ‘whole of society’ approach.

At the same time, through initiatives such as its Capacity Development for Migration Management Programme (CD4MM), IOM focuses on strengthening the capacity of national migration management actors to: design and implement sustainable reintegration policies and services; design contextually relevant internal displacement preparedness and mitigation mechanisms; and mainstream a human-rights based approach within and across all migration management structures and services. In a number of contexts, in support of durable solutions to internal displacement, IOM also provides government partners with support to develop durable solutions strategies and plans.

An important IOM global initiative in the field of policy, governance and planning is the Migration Governance Indicators (MGI). Through the MGI, IOM supports governments to identify policy and legislative gaps and prioritize measures to address them at both national and local levels. While the solutions to internal displacement is not the main focus of the MGI, several indicators in the MGI framework collect information that could also be applicable to IDPs. For instance, questions related to access to public services, the inclusion of displacement in development strategies, and climate-induced mobility. IOM is in the process of strengthening the MGI framework to better capture how policies are adapted to the specific needs of displaced populations. This will be of particular importance for the formulation of evidence-based policies.

Finally, in support of the UN system, and as coordinator of the UN Network on Migration and co-lead of durable solutions coordination groups in seven displacement affected countries, IOM works with agencies and UN Country Teams (UNCTs) to ensure the UN Development System considers human mobility, including displacement, as an integral aspect of development solutions. Tools and training programmes have been developed and delivered to UNCTs to mainstream migration and displacement into Common Country Assessments (CCAs) and United Nations Sustainable Development Country Frameworks (UNSDCFs). IOM analysis showed 75% of all UNSDCFs in 2022 included human mobility trends and 80% of CCAs in 2021 referenced migrants and displaced persons with CCAs increasingly recognizing the contributions of the displaced to national development processes. Secondments to Resident Coordinator Offices in support of the Solutions agenda, such as Ukraine and Ethiopia, includes bringing an enhanced focus on IDPs into CCAs and UNSDCFs.

Data for solutions

Ensuring that the data and analysis are available to inform evidence-based programming and policy responses is critical for preventing and sustainably resolving displacement. Solutions need to be based on the localized, context specific problems or problem sets that need to be solved.

Working through a network of over 300,000 enumerators and key informants globally, IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) is the largest repository of primary IDP data in the world. Historically, the focus of DTM has been on enumerating IDPs, tracking movement and identifying their needs, with DTM contributing to 80% of Humanitarian Response Plans (HRPs), globally. To date however, the contribution of DTM to understanding how many IDPs have progressed towards the resolution of their displacement has been relatively limited.

To address this, in 2022, IOM launched the Solutions and Mobility Index (SMI) at the World Bank Global Fragility Forum, with the aim of introducing questions to existing assessments that inform an understanding of progress towards solutions, opportunities and obstacles. SMI is a global initiative that draws on existing country level programmes in Nigeria, Iraq, Somalia, Mozambique, Chad, Niger among others. Although there is some variance in the way different countries approach SMI, IOM is working with key data partners to consolidate this approach into a unified assessment and analytical framework which will help to shed light on the global state of solutions.

With this goal, in early 2023, in line with the inter-agency Proposal for Improving Data for Solutions to Internal Displacement and the International Recommendations on Internally Displaced Persons Statistics (IRIS), IOM established a 21-month roadmap comprising four main workstreams: (i) expanding partnerships with National Statistics Offices (NSOs) and other relevant entities in support of IRIS roll out at the country level; (ii) expanding, enhancing and harmonizing IOM’s own data for solutions toolbox across priority countries; (iii) stepping up IOM’s role as a “convener” of data for solutions actors at the global and countries levels; and (iv) publishing an annua global report on the state of solutions to internal displacement.


IOM recognizes that multi-dimensional factors that need to be addressed to resolve internal displacement exceed the thematic focus of any single actor, and that promoting national leadership and ownership while convening different stakeholders around a common agenda (i.e. to sustainably prevent or resolve displacement) is critical to success.

IOM also recognizes that, within the UN system, competition and poor communication drives inefficiency but agile coordination and equitable partnership can leverage the comparative advantages of different organizations, including through technical expertise, operational capacity or thematic areas of expertise.

In view of these considerations, IOM works in partnership with a broad range of stakeholders, including states, communities, development actors, such as UNDP and UNHABITAT, and with support from development partners, such as the World Bank, KfW and AfDB.

This includes participation in a wide range of coordination groups, globally, such as the IASC cluster system or Task force for the implementation of the SG’s Action Agenda for internal displacement; at regional levels and at country levels, through participation in the UNCTs, dedicated working groups for resolving displacement or through consortia and joint programmes.

Prevention, early action and solutions from the start

For IOM, as an agency working across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, breaking down internal silos, between different modalities of intervention is critical, in addition to strengthening the external partnerships highlighted above. Providing a comprehensive response, through which responding to humanitarian needs can also lay foundations for longer term solutions ensures displaced persons are able to embark on pathways towards recovery and resilience as well as reducing the risk of dependence on humanitarian aid.

At the same time, climate change is and will continue to be a critical threat to populations in areas at risk of recurrent environmental shocks, sea-level rise and water scarcity. Through improved forecasting, anticipatory action and support for adaptation IOM aims to reduce the impact or address drivers of displacement, particularly in areas at risk of recurrent shocks or conflict due to depleted natural resources. This includes recognizing the importance of protecting and restoring Housing Land and Property (HLP) rights, which play a crucial role in fostering stability and promoting sustainable solutions for affected communities.

Durable Solutions - Background

IOM works to empower displaced populations to take steps toward durable solutions through support to return, relocation, and local integration, in accordance with the SG’s Action Agenda on Internal Displacement, the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons and IOM’s Progressive Resolution of Displacement Situations (PRDS), amongst others. According to these cornerstone documents, “A durable solution is achieved when IDPs no longer have specific assistance and protection needs that are linked to their displacement and such persons can enjoy their human rights without discrimination resulting from their displacement.

A durable solution can be achieved through:

  • Sustainable reintegration at the place of origin (hereinafter referred to as “return”);
  • Sustainable local integration in areas where internally displaced persons take refuge (local integration);
  • Sustainable integration in another part of the country (settlement elsewhere in the country).

As a member of the global, interagency Steering Group (SG) on Internal Displacement Solutions, alongside the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the Development Coordination Office (DCO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs, the UN Department of Peace Operations and, with observer status, the World Bank, IOM is providing guidance and support to the SG’s Special Adviser on Solutions to Internal Displacement and to Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs)/Resident Coordinators (RCs) in their efforts to steward meaningful progress toward durable solutions at the global level. IOM is also increasingly assuming a coordination or leadership role in durable solutions at the country level, including through chairmanship of durable solutions working groups and task forces in numerous settings.

Key Considerations

IOM's approach is guided by a set of key principles and considerations, which need to be reflected across any DS-related programme. This begins with recognizing that states are the prime duty-bearers and that IOM’s role is to support states to fulfil their responsibilities to protect and assist crisis-affected populations, including through measures that support recovery and durable solutions.

It will also be important for IOM to support the freedom of choice of affected persons to identify appropriate solutions, including those that embrace mobility, and to facilitate a strong element of participation in designing and promoting (re)integration solutions. Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) emerges as a cornerstone framework in this regard.

IOM will also need to recognize how individuals, households and communities transition from crisis to stability; support the modalities of this process, acknowledging that affected populations themselves are agents, enablers and drivers of their own resilience, recovery and development.  

Relevance to IOM’s Emergency Operations

As outlined above, IOM emergency responders need to ensure that, wherever and to the extent possible, the humanitarian response is “solutions-friendly” and that longer-term planning of recovery and durable solutions begins as early as possible. All in all, IOM’s support should be geared toward assisting affected populations, including host communities, to shift from a state of dependency toward incrementally achieving recovery and self-reliance.

Understanding that the development of temporary settlements (camps) to host displaced populations are rarely temporary and can lead to concentration of vulnerabilities, and delay or hinder self-sufficiency, IOM also remains committed to reducing the number of people in camps by exploring all possible individual accommodation alternatives in host communities that provide safety, dignity, and equitable access to services and livelihood opportunities. Where camps are necessary as a last resort, IOM engages in a diligent process to ensure they provide the safest and most conducive environment possible for recovery and resilience and are aligned with and contribute to, subnational and national development plans.



Please contact the Transition and Recovery Division at: TRDCoreGroupHQ@iom.int.