The Durable Solutions handbook aims at providing a practical methodology for a bottom-up approach to durable solutions planning, based on durable solutions targets identified by displacement affected communities at decentralized level, in post-conflict or post-disaster settings. It is developed in response to the feedback received on the use of the Preliminary Operational Guide on Durable Solutions, which was published in 2016 in implementation of the 2011 Decision of the Secretary-General on Durable Solutions calling for guidance in developing durable solutions strategies for IDPs and returning refugees.
The Durable Solutions handbook can be used in any situation where a conscientious decision has been taken by relevant stakeholders at national or decentralized level – preferably authorities - to seek durable solutions to the situation of IDPs and returnees. Possible triggers of such a decision include peacebuilding efforts; social, economic and political reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts after a conflict or natural disaster; the halt or scaling down of humanitarian assistance to IDPs and returnees; the closure of displacement sites or the eviction of IDPs and returnees from sites. It can also be triggered by a genuine commitment of national or local authorities to end protracted displacement in order to achieve development goals. Political will and drive from national and local authorities are prerequisites for achieving or working towards durable solutions. Their leadership and support are key in the initiation, development and implementation of durable solutions plans, if they are to be sustainable. The role of the international community and partners complements the authorities’ efforts by assisting in the removal of political and legal obstacles, and supporting the implementation of sustainable measures towards durable solutions.
What is considered a durable solution to internal displacement will depend on the specific context in which a solution is sought. The handbook does not advocate for a one-size-fits-all approach to achieving durable solutions, nor does it intend to provide solutions to every possible situation of displacement. It provides a methodology that places consultation and joint planning with displacement affected communities at the basis of any durable solutions plan, regardless of whether the process is initiated at national or local level. This holistic and inclusive bottom-up approach is adopted to enhance the ownership of the displacement affected communities in the design and implementation of the durable solutions plan and is more likely to lead to sustainable solutions. Displacement affected communities are more inclined to act upon plans that remove obstacles to durable solutions that they themselves have identified and prioritized. Durable solutions plan that are not based on this requisite might lead to new displacements, or returns to former locations of displacement. The handbook provides guidance on how to ensure meaningful participation of displacement affected communities in the durable solutions planning process. The handbook further adopts an area-based approach to durable solutions planning, as operational experience shows that locally driven and integrated durable solutions plans are more likely to succeed than those initiated at national level. Comprehensive knowledge of the socio-economic context, existing relationships with displacement affected communities, a greater interest of local authorities to consider the needs of the entire population, as well as unimpeded access to local authorities and other partners tend to make durable solutions initiatives more successful at decentralized level. Area-based solutions are also gaining more significance due to the increasing urbanization of displacement, which requires specific solutions for urban settings and the integration of solutions into local urban planning.
The concrete, field-based and simple structure of the Durable Solutions handbook ought to facilitate its use as guidance and reference material by a wide range of practitioners and actors. The first part describes the five-step methodology for area-based and context-specific durable solutions planning. The second part provides practical guidance and field-based practices on how to address general obstacles to achieving durable solutions, structured around the eight criteria of the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons. The annexes to the handbook contain examples of tools for durable solutions planning.