Mapping responses by cooperatives and social and solidarity economy organizations to forced displacement

Produced as part of a wider programme on responding to forced displacement crises, the report identifies good practices, lessons learned and potential areas of innovation by cooperatives and other social and solidarity economy organizations working in displacement contexts.

Noticia | 21 de marzo de 2020
According to latest estimates by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, there were 70.8 million forcibly displaced persons worldwide as a result of persecution, conflict, violence or human rights violations at the end of 2018.

To address this situation, a new consensus is emerging around the need for displaced persons and host communities to access enhanced economic opportunities. Establishing structures that the local community can trust, and strengthening local governance, are key to peacebuilding. Cooperatives and other Social and Solidarity Economy Organizations (SSEOs) are well positioned to address the needs of both displaced persons and host populations, as they often combine practical services through collective action, underpinned by principles of self-help, mutualism and democratic governance.

With the aim of identifying good practices, lessons learned and potential areas of innovation by cooperatives and other SSEOs working in displacement contexts, the Partnership for improving prospects for forcibly displaced persons and host communities (PROSPECTS) programme funded by the Government of the Netherlands, and ILO COOP Unit joined forces to undertake a “Mapping of responses by cooperatives and social and solidarity economy organizations to forced displacement”.

The mapping uncovered a variety of roles played by cooperatives and SSEOs in displacement contexts, providing not only practical functions that contribute to economic and human development – such as access to goods and services, employment, income generation, finance and knowledge exchange – but also social capacity and peace building functions, such as networking, solidarity and trust building, problem solving, collective action, women’s empowerment, reconciliation, and cultural sensitization. Many cooperatives work across both categories and are able to leverage an integrated response to provide a combination of mutually reinforcing benefits to those involved.

More broadly, SSEOs provide many of the same benefits as cooperatives in displacement contexts. Generally, they strengthen and generate social cohesion through their functioning principles, their social purposes intended to benefit both members and the community, and their impact at the local level. This helps to maintain linkages and a sense of community. They provide forms of social protection for the most vulnerable such as health insurance, through mutual, and they empower individuals and communities by fostering active involvement in the participatory decision-making process.

The mapping provides a number of lessons learned and recommendations to inform practitioners in the field, including programme staff, in the design and implementation of activities aiming at enhancing the role of cooperatives and SSEOs in crisis response and promoting decent work for all.