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EXPERIENCES FROM THE FIELD

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Organization(s) sponsoring the project:
World Bank, Government of Azerbaijan: Social Fund for the Development of Internally Displaced Persons (SFDI), Ganja Regional Economic Advisory Center Social Union, The Social Development Public Union, and the Azerbaijan Community Development, Research, Training and Resouce Center
Created By:Jo de BerryNo presence information
Published:9/7/2012 8:00 AM
Primary Contact:
Country:Azerbaijan
Project dates:
October 2007 - March 2012
Project Stage:Completed
Geographic Coveraget:National
Interventions:Skills and Training; Entrepreneurship or Business Development Services
Target Population:Vulnerable; Youth
Azerbaijan Internally Displaced Persons Youth Support Project
  
Impact of project:
Impact evaluation completed
Project Description:
This project was selected as the runner up in the Experiences From the Field's "Best Addresses Political Economy and Implementation Challenges" category by JKP partners from IDRC, LACEA, McKinsey, AMERU, and Fedesarrollo.
The aim of the project was, "to enhance the social inclusion of and promote economic opportunities for young internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Azerbaijan who have spent most of their lives facing the effects of war". There are over 600,000 IDPs in Azerbaijan who fled their homelands due to armed conflict in the early 1990s and have since lived in a situation of protracted displacement - unable to return and yet not fully integrated into their host communities - for the last twenty years. Twenty percent of IDPs are youth aged 15 - 24, who were born into and have spent the majority of their lives in temporary settlement camps, where there are few social and economic opportunities leading to a sense of dependancy and depression. The project aimed to increase employment for 221 youth by offering vocational training (at a vocational training school or with a 'master trainer'), grants for equipment and tools and support for small business development.
Why this project is a Good Practice example:
The project operated in extremely challenging conditions; in camps for displaced people where levels of isolation and hopelessness were high. The population is highly dependant on Government subsidies and has low expectation of self-reliance. Not only did the project serve to increase income and employment rates amongst the IDP youth, it increased the sense of empowerment and expectation for young people, with noticeable impact on their sense of well being. As one young women put it, "Now that we are independent we can secure our own privileges. We can earn money and be free. We found new friends through this project and have a better outlook on life." Outcomes of empowerment were evident in many ways from the project evaluation: for example of those who gained new employed after the project 86% started their own business in their new vocation, with the rest gaining a job employed by someone else. Although those who gained a job earned more income, young people said they preferred to start their own business because it gave them autonomy and freedom. In addition, marriage rates among the female project participants during the project period were remarkably lower than among the control group, suggesting that the project may have offered an alternative.
Impact Evaluation:
The project has demonstrated results:
- Before the project 8% of participants were employed, six months after the project 88% were employed, where as the control group only reached 11% employment during the same period.
- The number of different vocations pursued by participants grew from 2 before the project to 17 after the project.
- Before the project 40% of participants received an income, after the project 100% of participants received an income.
- The project participants increased their income level by 72% points more than the control group.
- The project increased hopefulness: 65% of the participants felt it was very likely they would see continued improvement in their employment status at the end of the project period as compared to 0% of the control group.
Lessons Learned:
- Depressed and war-affected communities such as IDPs in Azerbaijan are wary of new project activities, and take much convincing that the project will deliver. Strong community mobilization before the selection of individual beneficiaries helped overcome mistrust towards the project, and facilitated the support of parents and community leaders.
- Rather than just providing vocational training, the project followed this with training and support in new business development as well as the provision of equipment and tools. This increased the employment creation potential of vocational training per se. The young people undertook examinations in their new vocation and in their new business knowledge, this ensured quality control.
- The employment benefits of the project were greater for young men than for women. Further design modifications would be required to extend benefits to women including: (i) offering vocational training inside the camps to overcome cultural reluctance over women's movement; (ii) overcoming stereotypes about the types of work relevant for women and supporting women breaking into traditionally 'male' vocations; (iii) making sure that training material is equally understandable by girls and delivered by female facilitators, (iv) ensuring gender equity in project application and acceptance.
- Based on the project evaluation, further design improvements are required in: (i) providing sustained support and advice to youth as they start new businesses beyond the end of the project investment, including facilitating forum where the beneficiaries can meet together to compare challenges and discuss solutions and seeking value chain development for increased profitability of the small businesses, (ii) developing additional financing resources for business expansion to bridge the gap until young people can qualify for micro-credit financing, (iii) ensuring that vocational training from a 'master' has the same credibility as that from a vocational training school through the provision of certification, (iv) giving assistance to young people to secure premises for their new businesses in camps where space is limited.
Links:
Impact Evaluation to be published shortly.
 
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