2014 Rwanda: Emergency Preparedness for the Influx of Refugees into Rwanda

UNICEF Rwanda Country Office
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)
Publication Year:
April 24, 2020
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

The "Emergency Preparedness for the continued influx of refugees from the DRC into Rwanda”  project has reached its main objectives by serving refugee populations currently in Rwanda but also being sustainable in its practices for future refugees. This project was managed via the “One UN Approach”, coordination with the Rwandan Government, UNICEF/UNHCR committee meetings, and other project partner meetings/training. Although the first months of the project faced obstacles, the second period of months saw improved quality of services and coordination. On a concrete level, supplies, WASH upgrades at Nkamira Transit Centre (NTC), warehousing, and capacity building/ preparedness strategy have met their objectives. Currently, the UN and its partners are managing the supplier chain in Rwanda to ensure the longevity of this program’s impacts. On the abstract level, the “One UN Approach” was validated seeing as though there were high rates of global partner and local stakeholder coordination. This does not mean all components of this project were perfect successes. There are several recommendations offered such as taking more flexible approaches to disaster relief, performing crisis scenarios during planning phases, increase funding for training efforts, and to set-up a system of recurring funding in the host nation in case of a new emergency/intensification of the current one, among others.


In 2012-2013, with the unstable and increasingly violent situation in Eastern DRC, Rwanda saw a rapid influx of refugees (most of whom were women and children) as they fled from their homes in nearby North and South Kivu in DRC and crossed the western border into Rwanda. With the need to offer emergency supplies to incoming refugees within 72 hours, and the assumption that the influx of refugees would be at least 20,000 over the next year, UNICEF and UNHCR applied for and received funding from DFID for a project “Emergency Preparedness for the continued influx of refugees from the DRC into Rwanda” to pre-position such supplies.


The aim of the evaluation was to investigate and document whether the “Emergency Preparedness for the continued influx of refugees from the DRC into Rwanda” project has been effective in meeting its objectives.


The evaluation took place from June to August 2014, including two weeks in Rwanda. Both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods were used to arrive at objective findings and thorough recommendations. It was conducted in a participatory manner consulting key stakeholders and involving them in study design and tools development, and field work.

Findings and Conclusions:

The four main outputs from the logframe (supplies, WASH upgrades at NTC, warehousing, and capacity building and preparedness strategy) have largely been met although with adjustments and some work (e.g. the warehouse) to continue.  Stakeholders and beneficiaries are largely satisfied with the supplies and services provided, desired outcomes were largely achieved (and many possible negative outcomes avoided), and supplies and systems are in place to serve both current refugees and potential new arrivals.


  1. The flexible approach taken by the implementing team and of the funding organization to approve changes was critical to address realities on the ground.
  2. In the planning phase, identify and test critical assumptions, and include risk assessment and mitigation efforts. Identify alternative scenarios and needed changes to the implementation plan under differing scenarios.
  3. Include funding for training efforts in future relief projects. Formalize and collect training documents and presentations for future use.
  4. Examine aspects of coordination where improvement is needed, to further enhance the One UN approach and to streamline work with partners on the ground.
  5. Develop a revolving in-country fund, to enable quick action for future emergencies, and/or to enable retention of a certain level of inventory of key items ready at all times (part of Government Contingency Plan to reduce total dependence on UN for emergency supplies).
  6. Assist refugees who have Congolese teaching credentials to receive credentials for teaching in Rwanda.
  7. Train refugees to help Community Health Workers to promote healthy behaviours in the camps and help avert health crises. 
  8. Consider future projects as part of a multi-year approach, rather than a short-term prepositioning project.
  9. Project design should include a formal project exit strategy.
  10. Look at preparedness projects as a type of ‘insurance investment’ against worst case scenarios, rather than justifying the investment on a strict cost-benefit basis.

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