Portraits from PROSPECTS - Visualizing change in host and refugee communities

Depicting stories of host and refugee individuals with improved self-reliance and resilience, an exhibition led by ILO PROSPECTS programme at the colonnade of ILO Headquarters will underpin ILO’s approaches promoting inclusive socio-economic growth and decent work for both host and forcibly displaced communities. The exhibition will be on from 14 December to 11 January in its first phase.

Feature | 13 December 2023
The world is witnessing record levels of displacement, which is increasing in scale and complexity as the years go on, including as a result of climate change. Significant international support is needed to help the host countries and enhance the education, protection, social and economic opportunities for forcibly displaced populations. As displacement becomes increasingly protracted, it requires a development-oriented response that puts decent work at the forefront of solutions.

This is the overarching aim of PROSPECTS - Partnership for improving prospects for forcibly displaced persons and host communities – the Humanitarian-Development-Peace nexus programme generously supported by the Government of the Netherlands and bringing together the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the International Labour Organization (ILO), the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the World Bank.

This exhibition gives a voice to hosts and refugees supported by PROSPECTS, enabling them to tell their stories and share their hopes and ambitions for a better future.

In this partnership, the ILO brings significant expertise and experience in supporting enabling environments to underpin inclusive socio-economic growth and decent work, strengthening labour markets and promoting access to improved working conditions and fundamental rights at work. The ILO supports efforts to stimulate labour market demand and immediate job creation through employment-intensive investment, local economic and business development. It provides targeted support to labour market institutions and actors, services and compliance and monitoring mechanisms that facilitate the integration of refugees into the labour market in accordance with its strong normative foundation of international labour standards. The ILO also brings expertise on technical and vocational education and training and on the recognition of prior learning for certifying the skills of refugees to better ensure access to the labour market, and methods for assessing labour market demand to provide the right skills to refugees needed by employers. In addition, it seeks to support governments in the development and improvement of more inclusive social protection systems.

“I feel that new, unexpected doors have opened for me, and this is just the beginning. I want to further improve and expand my job, live simply, get married and work hard so that, one day, I will be able to build my own house.”

Ahmed Mohamed, a young refugee from Syria living in Jordan, has speech and hearing disabilities. Through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme, the ILO helped Ahmed upgrade his skills and obtain formal certification to become a professional painter and decorator. RPL schemes enable formal recognition of skills that refugees have obtained in either their host or home countries. By offering the chance to obtain formal qualifications, the RPL process helps improve the employability and labour-market integration of both host-community members and refugees. Know more. ©ILO/Ala’a al Sukhni

“Young people like me don’t need to wait for the right job opportunity to arise. We can start up our own businesses and develop our own lives.”

Narges Said is an internally displaced person originally from Mosul, Iraq. She is one of a group of young people who received financial education and further support to access affordable loans for their businesses through the financial inclusion programme supported by the Central Bank of Iraq and the ILO. With the help of one of these loans, Narges has now decided to expand her tailoring business in Dohuk, Iraq. Financial inclusion and business development services are instrumental in strengthening the resilience of forcibly displaced persons and in helping them start and expand micro and small enterprises. By providing people with access to quality financial services, financial inclusion helps them build assets and make productive investments that stimulate the local economy. Know more.  ©ILO/Zanyar Qadir

“I started working in the renewable energy sector because it offers so many interesting job opportunities. It is a growing sector, and many people are working with solar energy systems these days. I want to be one of them.”

Ibrahim Khaled Yassouf, a refugee from Syria living in Lebanon, has enrolled in a training and apprenticeship programme for solar-panel installation and maintenance. The programme is implemented in response to calls by the Lebanese Ministry of Education and Higher Education for supporting its industrial sector and is being implemented in six technical and vocational education institutes around the country. The programme is helping more than 4,200 Syrian refugees and Lebanese continue their education and training in spite of the multifaceted crises that have beset Lebanon. Know more. Know more. ©ILO/Elisa Oddone

“I am truly feeling independent and proud of myself. Having my own successful business makes me feel like a queen.”

With the support of the ILO, Al Batool, a Sudanese refugee in Egypt, received entrepreneurship and financial education training that enabled her to obtain seed funding to start her own business making incense sticks. As a single mother of four children, she was not in a position to leave home in search of a job. Being able to run her business from home was the best possible solution, which the programme helped her achieve. In Egypt, more than 6,000 women entrepreneurs have benefited from the enterprise development opportunities offered by the ILO PROSPECTS programme. Know more. ©ILO/Osama Mohamed

“I am glad that the pastoralist community here in Gerbi Kebele is benefiting from my presence and support. It helps them save money. Even more important, though, is the timely treatment of livestock, which is saving lives.”

Jemal Ahmed was trained as a community animal healthcare worker (CAHW) and is now providing these services to host and refugee community pastoralists in Gerbi Kebele in the Somali region of Ethiopia. The initiative “Engaging Host Community and Refugees in Dairy Development” aims to setup and strengthen dairy cooperatives, as well as support the dairy value chain in the region via the ILO-UNHCR Integrated Approach to Market Systems (AIMS) programme. Lack of basic animal health services was identified as a major obstacle to growth in the dairy sector. In collaboration with the Ethiopian Ministry of Agriculture, training was provided for 18 CAHWs to improve the quality of dairy production and, thereby, provide better livelihoods for host communities and refugees. Know more. ©ILO/Digital Birhan

“For six months, I trained as a tailor with a local artisan. There, I learned and perfected all the basic techniques of designing, sewing, cutting and repairing, and can now move on by myself. Finally, I feel like I’m starting to recover from all the hardships and losses we experienced when we fled our country.”

Angelique Kahindo is a refugee from the Democratic Republic of Congo. She arrived in Uganda with her six children and very little else. Angelique enrolled in an apprenticeship programme to become a seamstress. At the end of her apprenticeship, she bought a sewing machine and found a good location to set up her own business, which is going from strength to strength. The apprenticeship programme is an ILO initiative on rural employment services implemented in partnership with the AVSI Foundation. Know more. ©ILO/AVSI Foundation
“Finding out more about business and finance helped me apply for and get a loan, which, in turn, meant that I can take better care of my olive plants and cultivate more land to grow my business.”

Millions of Iraqis were displaced because of the war and related security challenges. Najim Omar Abdul Khaleq was among those displaced but he has now been able to return to his home city of Mosul. Like the majority of internally displaced people, his priority on returning was finding a way to earn a living, so that he could start afresh. Through the ILO’s financial inclusion and education programme, he was able to obtain a bank loan to make essential investments to sustain his farm. Training in financial management helped him save and cultivate more land to expand his business. Know more.  ©ILO/Karam Abdulrazzaq Yaseen

“It was always my dream to have a family business and I am happy to have fulfilled that dream. It was really important for me to regain my self-esteem. I do not doubt my capabilities anymore.”

Nashwa, a Syrian refugee in Egypt, credits the ILO’s business development services programme – Start and Improve Your Business (SIYB) – for giving her the courage and resilience to overcome adversity. Prior to participating in the training programme, she had started a mushroom plantation, which, unfortunately, did not succeed, mainly because of her limited knowledge of business management. The SIYB training helped her step back and review the plantation as a business model. Armed with new resolve and business acumen, she overcame her doubts and successfully revived her mushroom farm. Nashwa also took a course in digital marketing and has now expanded her business online. Know more. ©ILO/Osama Mohamed

“Fetching and carrying water is a hard job. It takes me almost two hours every day to get clean water for my family. Thanks to these new water points, our families won’t have to do that anymore.”

Egbal Joma, from West Kordofan, Sudan, was very pleased when several water points in the region were rehabilitated through the ILO’s Employment-Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP). The construction of water tanks and supply infrastructure not only improved the availability of clean water but also created jobs for refugees and host communities. Here, we see children from Egbal’s community enjoying the supply of water from a tap for the first time. The EIIP approach promotes employment creation by building and/or rehabilitating community assets, thereby contributing to local economic and social development. Know more. ©ILO

“I was interested in the ILO Job Search Club initiative because I had, myself, suffered the ordeal of unsuccessfully searching for a job. The idea of a club to help people find an occupation is a great way to improve the situation on the ground. I wanted to help other people find jobs suited to them and their needs. Therefore, for me, helping people as a Job Search Club facilitator is a real vocation.”

Abdel Halim al Qasir worked as a teacher in Syria before the war broke out. In 2013, he and his family fled to Jordan and now live in Za'atari refugee camp. When they first arrived, he had no source of income and the family was obliged to rely on aid, which was never enough to meet their needs. He struggled to find a steady job within the camp and moved from one small job to another. With the ILO’s support, he became a trained facilitator in the Job Search Club programme and, as a result, has since found a job as an office supervisor with a humanitarian organization. Job Search Clubs were initially piloted by the ILO in Egypt and help link job-seekers – including refugees – and employers in local labour markets using peer-to-peer methodology, sharing ideas, contacts and resources, while also building soft skills. Know more.  ©ILO/Ala’a al Sukhni

“Being able to improve and increase sesame production has meant that I can increase my earnings. This has helped me open my own wholesale shop and finally settle down in one place.”

Margaret Namukisa is a Ugandan sesame aggregator now based in the Rhino refugee settlement in the northwestern part of the country. In a constant search for high-quality sesame, she would relocate from district to district. ILO-supports a programme with refugee and host-community farmers to strengthen the sesame-seed value chain in the Rhino refugee settlement. The improved sesame yield allowed Margaret to earn more and higher commissions and set up her own shop and a home in Rhino. Through providing a range of agricultural products, methods and services to refugee and host-community farmers, the programme has been able to improve productivity, income and prospects for all actors along the value chain. Know more. ©ILO/AVSI Foundation

“I have worked as a labourer on construction sites before, but this one was different. I learned a lot of different technical skills here, which will help me find a better job in the future.”

Mahammad Ali, an Ethiopian living in the community that hosts the Kebribeyah refugee settlement in the Somali region of the country, was part of an ILO-supported Employment-Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP). The ILO is supporting the construction of the first satellite vocational training centre of Jigjiga Polytechnic College using this labour-intensive methodology. It offers employment to both host- and refugee-community members, as well as upskilling opportunities. The centre itself will ensure that young refugees and host-community members can get easier access to vocational training and therefore improve their future employment prospects. Know more. ©ILO/Digital Birhan

“It was hard to find the finance needed to start a business as a refugee in a new country. With the business development support of the ILO and UNICEF, I was not only able launch my own business and overcome financial hurdles but even provide jobs to six other people.”

Thaer Al Zo’by, a Syrian refugee in Lebanon, is seen here displaying his mushroom products at the Youth Agri Market (YAM), a joint initiative of the ILO and UNICEF to help host- and refugee-community entrepreneurs in agriculture-related industries market their products. Twelve entrepreneurs participating in the YAM had the chance to showcase their products, share their experiences and establish potential business-to-business connections. The ILO provided technical guidance on business development and supported access to financial services for the young people involved in this programme. Initially, Thaer was dependent on imports for his business; however, getting access to a loan has enabled him to invest in mushroom production locally, creating more jobs for refugees and Lebanese alike. Know more. ©ILO/Elisa Oddone

“Life in the refugee camp was tough for us. We had no source of income. Looking at myself today and how far I have come, I am truly grateful for the opportunity the apprenticeship programme gave me. This has restored hope by giving me a clear plan for my future.”

Poni Suzan, from South Sudan, was a refugee in the Rhino refugee settlement in Uganda. She was among the first cohort of 95 host- and refugee-community youth to be selected for a pilot apprenticeship programme supported by the ILO, the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the Uganda Hotel Owners’ Association. The apprentices were enrolled on a one-year training course with the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute in Jinja and then benefited from apprenticeship placements in 40 hotels around the country. Poni was an apprentice in the housekeeping department at a hotel in Arua City, northeastern Uganda. She has now managed to return to Juba in South Sudan and was able to use her training to get a job in one of the city’s hotels. Know more. ©ILO/AVSI Foundation

“Getting this certificate means the skills that I have are now properly recognized in Kenya. I can confidently apply for a job or get a government contract now, which is a huge relief for me and my family.”

Florence Wambui, a Kenyan Jua-Kali (informal) sector worker, was among the first cohort of graduates to obtain her certificate in tailoring and dress design through the government’s Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) programme. In Kenya, there are more than 18 million Jua-Kali sector artisans like Florence, who can benefit from having their skills formally recognized through RPL certification. The ILO provided key technical inputs into the development of the RPL policy and implementation guidelines in Kenya. It also supported the government to ensure that the policy is inclusive of refugees, allowing them a pathway to having their skills recognized through formal accreditation processes. Know more. ©ILO/Angela Wachira

“Despite having the qualifications, a lack of work experience made it difficult for me to find a job. Working here has meant that I can now find new opportunities.”

William Loimaluk, from Kenya, was trained in cobblestone technology through an ILO Employment-Intensive Investment Programme (EIIP) at the Lodwar Technical Vocational Centre. Following the training, he was among the 35 refugee- and host-community graduates employed in the construction programme run in collaboration with the Turkana County Government to pave the Lodwar Fresh Produce Market with cobblestone to improve sanitation and drainage. EIIP initiatives generate immediate job opportunities for forcibly displaced people and host-community members in a range of crisis and post-crisis settings, to help those affected become self-reliant and rebuild shared community assets. Know more. ©ILO/Angela Wachira
The PROSPECTS Partnership Programme has its roots in the Global Compact on Refugees (GCR) which calls for a global forced displacement response focusing on mobilising whole of- government, whole-of-society and whole-of-multilateral system. The Partnership model supports the operationalisation not only of the fundamental objectives of the GCR but also the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework that underpins inclusive socio-economic development among others.

It provides a platform by bringing together humanitarian and development partners and leveraging their respective comparative advantages to enhance response to forced displacement situations. As such, the role of the ILO is central to its ultimate success in proving the concept of partnership in addressing the needs of those who are forcibly displaced and the countries and communities that so generously host them.