Part three: Delivering Better

Aleppo, Syria

A man is seen working in his newly rehabilitated blacksmithing workshop in Karm Al-Qaterji. Karm Al-Qaterji neighbourhood in east Aleppo city used to be an important commercial hub, hosting many industries including metal, textile, and food. However, a decade of conflict has taken a heavy toll on the neighbourhood, just like the rest of the city, damaging homes, businesses, and infrastructure, and forcing people to flee. Over the past four years, UNDP has been supporting a series of integrated projects to help families to return home and rebuild their lives through improving their access to basic services, enhancing their resilience and supporting their livelihoods. UNDP Syria

With humanitarian crises around the world increasingly protracted, humanitarian operations can last for 10 or 20 years, sometimes longer. This creates the risk of entrenched humanitarian dependencies, not least for the tens of millions of people around the world living in protracted displacement.

Therefore, humanitarian actors must redouble their efforts to ensure assistance not only meets humanitarian needs but reduces them by contributing to sustainable national and local systems and to durable solutions for displaced populations. It is key that humanitarian actors work alongside development and peacebuilding actors. This will help to ensure that people can access basic social services and progress to self-sufficiency, guided by the promise of Agenda 2030 to “reach the further left behind first.”

Lack of access to adequate basic social services is a challenge in many countries with Humanitarian Response Plans and Refugee Response Plans. While the primary responsibility for the delivery of these services lies with Governments, they can struggle to live up to this responsibility due to gaps in territorial control, exclusionary policies or weak administrative capacity.

When development actors, particularly international financial institutions, withdraw from financing the delivery of basic social services through Governments, this often shifts the responsibility to humanitarian actors, who already have high caseloads and are chronically under-resourced. While humanitarian organizations usually focus on delivering immediate life-saving assistance, collaboration with development actors is required to ensure the sustained delivery of basic social services.

Collaboration with peacebuilding actors may be needed to ensure the governance and security required to deliver these services. With each actor working according to their mandate, humanitarian, development and, where appropriate, peace collaboration (the HDP nexus) can contribute to not only meeting people’s basic needs but to reducing underlying risks and vulnerabilities and ensuring resilience. Strengthening national and local systems to deliver basic social services and respond to future shocks is the most sustainable way to achieve this.

With the number of IDPs and refugees at a record high and millions of these people living in protracted displacement, the advancement of durable solutions is critical. In September 2021, the report by the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement pointed to an “imperative for durable solutions.” The panel called for a shift towards a more development-oriented approach and for more predictable engagement of development actors in the early stages of displacement crises. Development and peace actors must work alongside humanitarian actors and focus on strengthening public systems and basic social services to assist IDPs together with refugees and other persons of concern and their host communities.

The panel called for a stronger role for UN RC/HCs in driving nexus approaches to advance durable solutions for displaced populations at the country level. In many countries, RC/HCs, UN Country Teams and HCTs have successfully implemented strategies to achieve ‘collective outcomes’ between humanitarian, development and peace actors, including through joint analysis and better joined-up planning, programming and financing.

Several countries have agreed on collective outcomes to strengthen basic social service delivery, including Cameroon, DRC, Libya and Somalia. Other countries offer good practice for humanitarian actors working together with Government, development and peacebuilding actors to ensure the delivery of basic social services. For example, in CAR, the Government and partners committed to investing in redeploying the territorial public administration, relaunching public services and restoring State authority. This was done in parallel with efforts towards the recovery of local communities and socioeconomic resilience, particularly in marginalized and remote regions most affected by the crisis. A Social Protection Working Group also meets at national and local levels to ensure complementarity between humanitarian and development cash assistance.

In Iraq, a structure with area-based coordination mechanisms has been set up in areas of high return of displaced people to ensure complementarity of humanitarian, development and Government action on the ground. The UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework has added a fifth chapter on durable solutions to stress the importance of finding durable solutions to end displacement in Iraq by 2024.

In some countries, the formulation of collective outcomes on internal displacement has helped drive collaborative approaches towards durable solutions. In Somalia, a collective outcome has been agreed at the national level to reduce the risks and vulnerabilities of displaced populations, contributing towards solutions. Durable solutions are one of the three priority areas for the operationalization of the HDP nexus in the country. The focus on solutions has created high-level political momentum and resulted in the March 2021 launch of the national Durable Solutions Strategy.


  1. OCHA, Safeguarding and strengthening delivery of basic services in fragile states.
  2. Federal Government of Somalia, National Durable Solutions Strategy for Somalia (2020-2024)