The first impact evaluation of one of the largest migrant reintegration programmes, the EU-IOM Joint Initiative for Migrant Protection and Reintegration in the  Horn of Africa, is underway in Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan.

The evaluation, which began in March, will compare returning migrants who have received support to re-integrate, with those in the host communities who have not received it.

The study’s aim is to provide in-depth analysis on the impact of the project’s activities on migrants, and to draw lessons for the design and implementation of future reintegration programmes.

 The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is carrying out the evaluation support from ITAD, a UK-based consulting firm. The final results are expected by the last quarter of 2021. 

 Over the last three years the EU-IOM Joint Initiative has supported over 5,600 migrants in the Horn of Africa to voluntarily return to their communities of origin. This encompasses protection for migrants as well as help to return to their countries of origin and once there, to re-start their lives – also known as ‘assisted voluntary return and reintegration’. Almost 11,200 have been assisted to re-establish their lives in the region.

Returnees receive medical screening, psychosocial counselling, accommodation, onward transportation to their communities of residence, along with reintegration support.

 While overall the EU-IOM Joint Initiative covers and closely cooperates with 26 African countries across three regions (the Sahel and Lake Chad, North Africa and the Horn of Africa), the programme’s focus in the Horn of Africa are migrants from Ethiopia, Somalia and Sudan who continue to risk their lives on dangerous migratory routes to the Gulf States, South Africa, Libya, Egypt and Europe in pursuit of employment opportunities.  Many face dangers and abuse along the way, including the risk of being trafficking and detained.

The programme also supports governments and non-governmental organisations with migration governance, migration data and communication initiatives designed to enable migrants and potential migrants to make informed decisions about their journeys. 

 The study will set a key precedent in its use of empirical methodologies (a research design based on an experiment such as the clinical trials done to test the effects of a new medication or vaccine) to evaluate the impact of reintegration programming. It will also provide key feedback on the way in which IOM measures and monitors sustainable reintegration for the migrants  supported. 

 “The research is yet another exciting milestone for us, especially as it comes when we are celebrating three years of committed assistance to vulnerable migrants. We are looking forward to making further contributions in the area of return and reintegration support,” said Julia Hartlieb, Senior Regional Programme Coordinator of the EU-IOM Joint Initiative in the Horn of Africa.