Serbia

As a result of regional conflict in the 1990s, thousands of IDPs continued to live in protracted displacement in Serbia for decades. By 2010, many had settled in central and southern areas of the country, with a group of mostly ethnic Roma in the northern region of Vojvodina.

Given the lack of needs analysis on the displaced population, the Serbian government and humanitarian and development organisations realised the importance of establishing an evidence base to better inform their interventions. They asked JIPS in 2010 to support the planning and implementation of a collaborative needs assessment, a major effort to produce agreed upon results to understand the needs and vulnerabilities of the displaced population. We received a second request in 2014 to support a similar exercise focusing on Roma IDPs.

Project overview

Assessing the needs of Roma IDPs in Serbia (2014 – 2015)
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) collaborated with Serbia’s Commissariat for Refugees and Migration in 2014 to survey the country’s Roma IDPs. The purpose of the exercise was to assess their needs and the resources available to them by analysing different aspects of their living conditions.

The aim was to establish an agreed-upon evidence base to inform the development and adjustment of government policies, better tailor humanitarian and development projects and enhance advocacy on improving protection and assistance interventions with a focus on durable solutions.

Profiling process & JIPS’ support

Between July and September 2014, we provided remote technical support in developing the methodology and survey questionnaire, and during data collection. The latter phase involved conducting surveys of 800 displaced and 400 non-displaced Roma households in 18 municipalities, complemented by six targeted focus group discussions.

The analysis covered the following areas of Roma IDP households’ lives:

  • Economic situation
  • Housing conditions, needs and preferences
  • Health, education level, skills, employability and preferences
  • Availability of social assistance schemes, obstacles to accessing them and possible solutions
  • Ways of combining the above elements in coping mechanisms

Impact & lessons learned

The needs assessment was published in May 2015, and formed part of UNHCR’s wider Seeds for Solutions initiative to encourage multi-year and multi-partner planning to facilitate IDPs’ achievement of durable solutions.

Project overview

Assessing IDPs’ needs in Serbia (2010 – 2011)
Given the lack of agreed upon needs analysis on Serbia’s IDPs, the Serbian Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR and SORS, the country’s national statistics office, asked JIPS to support the planning and implementation of a collaborative needs assessment in 2010. This profiling was the first major effort to better understand and agree upon priorities for displacement response in the country.

The main aims of the undertaking were to:

  • establish agreement on the number of IDPs in need,
  • identify the type and extent of their needs,
  • map locations with high concentrations of IDPs and
  • contribute to the process of defining options for durable solutions.

Profiling process & JIPS’ support

We collaborated closely with the profiling partners in providing technical support across all phases of the exercise. During a field mission to Serbia in September 2010 we took part in meetings and workshops during which the partners agreed the objectives of the assessment and began to develop their methodology and survey questionnaire.

We also ran training sessions for enumerators from the Serbian Commissioner for Refugees and SORS in both traditional pen-and-paper interviews and mobile data collection.

Topics covered included enumeration, household surveys, interview techniques and roles and responsibilities of the different partners. Topics covered in the survey included the sociodemographic characteristics of displaced households, the role of IDPs in the labour market, their financial stability, their level of social inclusion, any property they had in Kosovo and their willingness or otherwise to return.

Impact & lessons learned

The needs assessment was published in February 2011, and had a number of impacts, first and foremost that it constituted the first major undertaking of its kind on IDPs in Serbia, and its findings and recommendations informed the development of the government’s national strategy on IDPs and refugees. It also helped shape UNHCR Serbia’s interventions, as Milos Terzan of UNHCR Serbia explains: “The data set produced formed a basis for UNHCR Serbia’s operational plans for 2012 and beyond.”

  • Working closely with the government and involving the national statistics office directly helped to ensure confidence in the assessment’s findings.
  • The exercise established a platform for agreement among stakeholders and fostered a sense of collaboration and cooperation important not only to the assessment but also to effective interventions to support vulnerable IDPs.
  • Bringing stakeholders working with communities affected by displacement together with reputable local technical organisations helped to ensure the data collected was put to good use.

The assessment also served as a reminder of a number of profiling lessons:

  • Establishing and sustaining a strong collaborative process throughout the exercise is central to bringing a wide range of organisations with different mandates together to agree on how to assess and jointly respond to the needs of the target population.
  • When data is sensitive, involving a technical government counterpart such Serbia’s national statistics office facilitates smooth negotiations on the design of the methodology and analysis.
  • Thorough planning and the setting of clear and shared objectives is vital to ensure that all stakeholders understand the type of analytical findings the exercise will produce.
  • Tools should be tested prior to implementation, particularly if they have been designed specifically for the exercise or involve unfamiliar technologies. Initial plans to use mobile technology to collect data in Serbia were ultimately rejected because of errors, a scenario that could have been avoided through proper testing.

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