Journey to Gambella
On the westernmost flank of Ethiopia, jutting into neighboring South Sudan, is the region of Gambella. It is a region well-known across the Africa continent as a place of refuge. Gambella hosts one of the biggest refugee populations in Africa, with more than 700,000 refugees currently registered there. It is a major crossroads for migration, but it is also a place that many refugees, including children, will call home for many years to come.
There are more than 10 million children living as refugees or asylum seekers around the globe today. A shocking statistical reality of life faced by refugees is that more than three-quarters of them will be be displaced for decades. Often driven from their homes by conflict, drought, natural disasters or lack of real economic or educational opportunities, they arrive in places like Gambella, Ethiopia. There, they are serviced by under-resourced humanitarian systems designed for the short term. In Ethiopia, 60% of all refugees are children. Due to their status, they are often unable to access the services provided by national governments, including water and sanitation, education and child protection services. This is not acceptable and has been the status quo for too long. In 2020 UNICEF and UNHCR came together to imagine a new strategy for reaching these children.
UNICEF-UNHCR Blueprint for Joint Action: A Fair Deal for Refugee Children
The "Blueprint" is a joint initiative to meet the challenges of refugee inclusion and to ensure that no child is left behind. It is a comprehensive 2-year strategy that focuses on securing equitable access to essential services. The Blueprint is about making the structural changes in service delivery that are needed to give all refugee children deserve a fair chance in life: safety from physical harm and exploitation, clean and hygienic living conditions, education, and be included in national systems so they can have the same life opportunities as other children. The Blueprint brings a renewed commitment - including joint fundraising, joint advocacy and a joint approach to data collection and analysis - to accelerating global efforts to promote and protect the rights of refugee children and the host communities near them, and to promote their inclusion in national services and programmes.
Managing services for individual children is done through case management. It can be a complex process. It involves collaboration, the establishment of operating procedures, and commitment to quality of care, and harmonizing data practices. It involves knowing where services can be accessed, how to access them, and who is providing them. It involves an integrated approach. When this is combined with the vision of the Blueprint, which seeks to connect national service providers with those who are working in refugee settings, there is a need for a comprehensive data management system that can handle these requirements. This is where the CPIMS+/Primero comes in, both as a data management solution and as a partnership platform with a proven track record.
Partner Power in Gambella
As is always the case in our work, strong partnerships are at the core of the strategy. In the Gambella region, that means UNICEF and UNHCR working with our Ethiopian government partners to strengthen and support the humanitarian-development nexus. Is also means calling on the technical capacity and expertise of our partners. For the CPIMS+/Primero rollout in Gambella, the Danish Refugee Council, Save the Children and Plan International teams came together and advanced a year-long plan to prepare, build capacity, and implement. These months of dedicated effort have culminated in the successful deployment of the CPIMS+/Primero in support refugee camps across Gambella, including Nguenyyiel, Kule and PinyudoII camps. To date, more than 60 case workers have been trained on the use of CPIMS+/Primero and digitally facilitated case work has begun.
The next phase of work will scale up the system in Gambella and will also include an integration between CPIMS+/Primero and UNHCR's proGres v4 refugee registration database. By linking these data systems together, UNICEF and UNHCR are investing in the Blueprint, making the structural changes that will support inclusive programme delivery and moving us one step closer to the realization of our shared vision. Keep your eyes on this space!
Congratulations to the teams who have put so much into this process, and who continue to work for a better future for refugee children.
"Including refugee children in national systems means better opportunities for all children in Ethiopia" .