Key Issues

Roles and Responsibilities

Selecting a Location

One of the most critical influences that a Camp Management Agency can have on livelihoods opportunities for camp residents is during site selection. The location of a camp can have a significant impact on the community’s livelihood opportunities and choices. Building new camps in remote sites away from work and livelihoods often forces occupants into aid dependence and make market relations with local communities difficult. For livestock-dependent communities, access to adequate grazing and water sources is also an aspect to consider when selecting a camp location as well as provision of space for livestock within the camp and provision of veterinary services.

☞ For information on site selection, see Chapter 7, Camp Set-up and Closure.


Voice From the Field - Consequences of Relocation

In post-tsunami Sri Lanka, displaced fishing communities in the south were frequently relocated to inland camps and temporary sites. In part, this reflected some communities’ fear of living close to the sea immediately after the disaster. However, the choice of sites was also driven by financial and political considerations. Land away from the coast was cheaper and the government wanted to establish a coastal buffer zone inside where construction was not permitted.

The consequence of moving inland was that many fishing-dependent families were now located some distance inland, without easy and immediate access to the sea. In response, the men of the community often chose to locate themselves in temporary shacks on the beach, where they lived for a significant proportion of their time, allowing them to fish morning and evening. Dislocated from their families, there were reports from women of increased alcohol abuse by men.


Assessing Needs

As part of its coordination responsibility at camp level, the Camp Management Agency will seek to enhance the livelihood strategies of the camp population, especially when there is no specialised livelihood agency. Of primary importance is a thorough and participatory assessment of needs, resources, capacities, skills and social-economic and political/legal background. Assessments within the camp community should consider:

  • previous and present livelihood and coping strategies
  • skills, knowledge and capacities, including those of women, persons with specific needs, the host community and minorities
  • social stratification and levels of vulnerability
  • views and priorities of a diversity of groups with different roles and social statuses
  • available resources (human, administrative, financial and natural)
  • household expenditure patterns and sources of cash and food
  • skills that would potentially be most useful on return, resettlement or local integration.

It is also important to assess:

  • local demand for particular goods and services
  • if, where and how people save money
  • existing economic relations and trade, goods and labour flows between the camp population and the host community
  • the potentially negative social, economic and environmental impacts that camp activities might have
  • political and social impacts encamped populations might have upon host populations, especially in accessing labour, fuelwood and grazing land.

Coordinating and Involving Displaced Populations

Livelihood support is directly connected to early recovery and development, particularly following emergencies when rapid and massive delivery of hand-outs has taken priority over training or income-generating programmes. The next step for the Camp Management Agency is therefore to coordinate with protection, early recovery and development actors, the displaced community as well as the host community to discuss which priorities for livelihood support are feasible and should be promoted.

Involving the displaced population is key to ensuring an inclusive, holistic and long-term approach. Existing power structures of the crisis-affected people and the host-population should be identified and potentially built upon. Participatory assessment methods are an effective way of accessing the opinions and priorities of different groups within the community. The Camp Management Agency should focus on:

  • developing forums and focus groups to discuss food security and income generating opportunities and other business-related issues
  • establishing a livelihoods committee or interest/support groups with members with specific skills
  • establishing a camp market committee, responsible for planning, development and management of the marketplace, including waste disposal and food hygiene
  • considering the different strategies men, women and adolescents could pursue to enhance their livelihoods
  • including people with special needs.

It is important to ensure that women participate equally, and in culturally appropriate ways, in agriculture, skills training and income-generation activities. It may be necessary to raise awareness of the need for female participation on an on-going basis and take action to facilitate their participation. Due to women’s traditional and often time-consuming daily household chores, it is often necessary to schedule training and other employment initiatives carefully. Consider establishing day-care centres or other alternative child-care arrangements to ensure continuing female participation. In some cultures female participation may depend upon a male or female relative being permitted to accompany her.


Voice From the Field - Livelihood Opportunities Benefiting Both Camp Residents and Host Communities

Under carefully controlled conditions, displaced people can play an important role in the provision of construction materials for the development of their camp while, at the same time, creating livelihood opportunities. In both Sri Lanka and Sierra Leone, Camp Management Agencies helped camp residents and host communities by responding to requests for efficient and cost-effective shelter roofing material made from woven palm fronds. Relations were improved by sharing contracted work with both communities as the host communities harvested the raw materials which were prepared by the camp residents. In this way, the displaced people were able to contribute to the development of their own camps, thus fostering greater pride and ownership, while also obtaining an important livelihood opportunity.


☞ For more information on community participation, see Chapter 3, Community Participation.

Acquiring Market Knowledge

The Camp Management Agency needs to develop its understanding of local markets and economic systems in order to support viable market exchange and monitor and advocate for viable and safe access to markets for the camp population. However, the potentially negative impact of establishing local markets must be considered. It is important for members of the camp population, including groups with specific needs, to have both physical and economic access to the market. Basic food items and other essential commodities should be available at affordable prices.


Third Sphere Standard - Food Security and Livelihood: Access to Market

“The disaster-affected population's safe access to market goods and services as producers, consumers and traders is protected and promoted.”


The Camp Management Agency, in close collaboration with the camp and host population, should allocate sufficient space for a central market place(s) for buying and selling. This space may need to be enlarged in the future and all security risks and protection needs must be carefully assessed. At the market, basic infrastructure should ideally include:

  • weather-proof shelter
  • latrines for men and women
  • facilities for safe garbage disposal
  • facilities to support groups with specific needs.

Safety and security are of utmost importance. It should be easy and safe to get to during day and night, in particular for women and girls. The market place and access roads should be well lit and located in an easily accessible place for both camp residents and the local population, so as to encourage social and economic exchange.

Shops and other livelihood activities are often set up by the displaced population in front of their temporary shelters or in other unplanned areas. Ideally, the Camp Management Agency may register all formal and informal income generating activities in a camp, ensure that they are safely set up and that potential risks, such as electrocution, hot oil spills and fires, are identified. Wherever possible, an adequate distance from living spaces and sanitation facilities, should be maintained.


Knowledge of Government Policies

Government policies on pricing, trade policies and income generating activities influence access and availability in markets. Understanding the state regulatory framework is important for a Camp Management Agency, to inform their advocacy and livelihoods-promotion work with other agencies.


Advocating for Access to Markets and Resources

In some situations of displacement, access to markets and resources is frequently limited or even denied. Although in certain circumstances it may not be possible, the Camp Management Agency should advocate on behalf of the camp community for economic exchange with the host community, and the sharing of natural resources. Access can be facilitated to essential environmental resources, such as forests, grazing, firewood sites, fishing waters and arable land. If a solution is not found at camp level together with the Camp Administration, the Cluster/Sector Lead at regional level should assist.

Environmental stress and depletion of scarce natural resources can be a significant challenge in many camp locations. Issues around access to natural resources can be a source of tension and conflict between the host and camp community. Depletion or degradation of natural resources, like water or wood, can have a significant impact on livelihood strategies. It is essential therefore for the Camp Management Agency to be aware of the additional burden imposed on the host community and to involve them in the livelihood assessment. Local rules and regulations for accessing and using natural resources must be respected and may require specific awareness raising and monitoring by the Camp Management Agency. The camp population and the host community must be actively involved in the monitoring of natural resources and environmental impact so that problems can be avoided and solutions identified.

☞ For more information on the environment, see Chapter 6, Environment.


Employment Opportunities

Camp Management Agencies should be aware of the need to create employment opportunities whenever possible. This may involve developing infrastructure, using an approach which creates jobs for the local population. Wherever feasible, and in order to share employment opportunities and promote skill-sharing, camp residents and local community residents should both be employed. All other service providers active in the camp should be encouraged by the Camp Management Agency to adopt the same policy.

Remember that:

  • Methods of payment/compensation as well as salary levels should be coordinated and harmonised between all employing agencies. Government daily wages should be taken as a benchmark so as to limit difficulties and disputes.
  • The host population must be included in aid endeavours targeted at the encamped population so as to limit difficulties and disputes.
  • Preference should be given to households with vulnerable members and households with no other breadwinner.
  • Employment of men and women as well as ethnic and religious minorities and disabled persons should ideally reflect the ratio of these groups in the camp. This should be the goal for every agency.
  • Particular issues faced by older people and people with disabilities during displacement should be mainstreamed into any camp-related programme. Staff working on camp population lists should be trained to identify isolated older people or people with disabilities and as well as older care givers, not previously looking after children, may find themselves as head of households after displacement present.
  • Recruitment and remuneration policies including selection criteria must be fair, clear and transparent.

As income generating activities do not benefit the entire affected population, the possibility of including income generating activities' participants in community projects should be considered. Community projects, such as rehabilitation of a market or repairs to hand pumps, may benefit to the whole affected comminuty as well as improving relations between direct participants in income generating interventions and affected persons who are not beneficiaries of them.

The type of remuneration, such as cash or food, or a combination of the two depending on the context, needs to be assessed and selected in close cooperation with the camp population. Programmes can contribute to camp infrastructure or to service but should not jeopardise efforts for community mobilisation, voluntary participation and ownership, especially in the development of markets, community centres and/or schools.


Cash Payment Has Security Implications!

Whenever workers are remunerated in cash, the Camp Management Agency and the livelihoods provider need to ensure that this is done in a secure place where people can count and take their money safely. A lot of cash may also implicate the agencies’ own staff in corruption. Thus there should always be at least two staff members present with clear responsibilities when paying cash to workers. Wherever possible, payment methods via cell-phones should be tested so as to minimise security risks.


The Camp Management Agency and livelihoods providers need to monitor whether employment of camp residents inside or outside the camp are exploitative. The risk of exploitation needs to be limited as much as possible, particularly for women and girls. There are many cases where displaced people take up dangerous, abusive, harsh or underpaid jobs to provide for their families.

Though the basic right to seek employment outside the camp should be promoted, such advocacy should be based on thorough knowledge of the local economy and understanding of the pros and cons. This will help prevent resentment and future problems of living alongside each other while giving opportunities for refugees or IDPs to contribute positively to the local economy.


The Right to Work

Article 23 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that “everyone has the right to work, to free employment choice, to just and favourable conditions of work and protection against unemployment.”

Principle 22.1.b of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement introduces “the right to seek freely opportunities for employment and to participate in economic activities”.



A Camp Management Agency working with camp residents on a cash-for-work scheme should:

  • Establish a committee to review and agree rates of pay for each specific trade, service or skill in order to ensure remuneration is transparent, fair and based on local rates. Local leaders should officially validate the established rates.
  • Employ skilled and unskilled labour from both the camp and host community.
  • Ensure recruitment procedures are open and transparent.
  • Remunerate based on piece-work that is completed, with a rate per agreed quantity, for example, the number of bricks laid, number of metres dug for drainage, instead of a harder-to-monitor daily rate.
  • Ensure the employment of a monitoring team or a supervisor to monitor quality, process, timekeeping and adherence to safety standards.
  • Wherever possible, seek opportunities for all groups to participate.
  • Train a member(s) of the camp management staff to oversee finances.
  • Use such training as an opportunity to develop financial and book-keeping skills among the camp residents.
  • Plan large projects in phases so that the project can continue steadily and give an optimal number of people a chance to participate. It is vital to assure that the earned CFW amount is sufficient to have a beneficial impact for the beneficiary.
  • Use employees with technical expertise to train on the team, others as apprentices, and remunerate the master trainers appropriately.
  • Use local suppliers for materials and tools.
  • Be mindful of how demands of emergency relief projects impact local prices and markets.
  • Be aware of corruption risks.

In situations where markets and access to food are limited, FFW projects may be more appropriate than CFW.


Employment and Students

The Camp Management Agency and the livelihoods provider need to make sure that employment opportunities do not induce school attendees to drop out in order to earn money. In order to assure the latter an open line of communication and a system of verification with local schools and/or the parent-teacher association, if there is one, should be established.


Responsible Use of Earnings

Often in camps and camp-like settings, bars are highly frequented. When workers receive cash, some may abuse alcohol. This is a serious protection concern if family income is misused for alcohol or other drugs, leaving insufficient resources to buy household food or other items. The Camp Management Agency and the livelihoods provider need to monitor the situation and advocate for all to be aware of their responsibilities.



When camps are located in remote areas, local markets are sometimes difficult or impossible for the camp population to access, making it hard for camp residents to trade. This may also be due to lack of security, police harassment, lack of legal status, lack of identity documents and/or local government policies. Where contacts and local trade are restricted, the camp market will become an even more essential place for commercial and social exchange. Where inputs from outside markets are limited it becomes harder for displaced people to manage a profitable business within the camp. Food security initiatives or livelihoods schemes may offer support in such cases.

When feasible, the promotion of economic relationships between the camp community and the local communities can take place in many ways. The Camp Management Agency may initiate forums for coordination and cooperation to bring together host community representatives and camp market committee members to discuss business opportunities and access to local markets. Such discussions need to take into consideration the level of poverty of the local host population and the economic development of the host area, as well as the assets and needs of the camp population.

Monitoring fluctuations in the market place, for instance after food distributions, will help the Camp Management Agency to keep informed about inflation and the broader economic environment. Such market surveys can help to clarify the issue of market taxes and help to plan standardised and fair systems for all. Regularly monitoring the markets, both availability of goods and prices, is also important in order to continuously assess the food security situation and trends in agricultural production and marketing. It can help to anticipate possible food crises due to food shortages or steep rises in prices.


Agriculture, Horticulture and Animal Husbandry

Depending on camp residents’ experience, the location and size of the camp and access to arable land and vegetable gardens, small-scale animal husbandry or more extensive agricultural activities, can usually be undertaken by at least some camp residents. In some cases, the displaced population will have brought some livestock with them to support their livelihoods during and after their time in the camp.

Protecting and rebuilding livestock as a key livelihood asset provides a way of supporting livelihoods and increasing the resilience of the affected people. Even in urban areas, gardening can be an option both as a means of contributing to a nutritious and well-balanced diet and to generate income.


Livestock Emergency Guidelines And Standards (LEGS)

LEGS is a companion to the Sphere Project and provides tools and guidance for supporting livestock keepers affected by disaster, including those displaced and living in camps.


An assessment of the potential availability and quality of land for small-scale cultivation or grazing should be made during the site selection process. Access can be subsequently negotiated with host community representatives and authorities. Some training, initial provision of such things as seeds, tools, fertiliser, livestock, fishing equipment, hunting implements and transport as well as follow-up and extension of service support may be required. In some situations, such as in response to increasing urbanisation, specific rural-oriented training in horticulture and crop cultivation may also motivate people to return to rural livelihoods.


Voice From the Field - Grazing Spaces for Sudanese Refugees' Livestock, 2013

As a result of the crisis in Darfur, Sudan, thousands of refugees moved into eastern and southeastern Chad. Many of them are nomadic pastoralists who crossed the border with their cattle. United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), responsible for accommodating the refugees, created a new site in Abgadam, about 40 km. from the Sudanese border, which housed just over 18,000 people.

The Abgadam site was designed to allow the refugees to bring and house their livestock and to graze them on surrounding pasture. Plans for the site also included segregation of new livestock from resident animals, vaccination and veterinary inspection on arrival and other measures to prevent the spread of livestock diseases.

Case study from Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards (LEGS), 2014 and IRIN News, 2013.


☞ For more information on food security, environment, and water and sanitation, see Chapter 13, Food Security and Non-food Items, Chapter 6, Environment and Chapter 14, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene.


Training and Income Generating Projects

Skills training and income generating programmes are often provided in camp settings. Camp Management Agencies should be aware of all these types of endeavours in order to ensure their beneficial impact for the crisis-affected population. Skills and business training and the experience of engagement in income generation activities can have positive future implications and facilitate social-economic re-integration into the country or area of origin or during resettlement.

Being engaged in training or small-scale business can also contribute to protecting people from both forced and/or voluntary recruitment into fighting forces.


Legal Issues and Income Generating Opportunities

It is important to investigate legal issues in relation to the status of the camp community and their right to employment, their taxation obligations, freedom of movement and access to economic opportunities. These will influence the level of income generation possibilities and the extent to which any newly-acquired skills can be used in the local employment market.


Skills training can have a variety of forms. Some of the possibilities include:

  • apprenticeship with qualified displaced trainers
  • on-the-job training
  • seminars and workshops
  • training events in such things as business management, accountancy and value chains.


Persons With Specific Needs and Income Generating Activities (IGA)

Focus on persons with specific needs and groups at risk that have the capacity to be or become economically active. Agencies with IGA projects need to organise training or income generating activities specifically for persons and groups such as femaleheaded households, HIV/AIDS-affected households, youth, persons with disabilities and others who may be marginalised in the camp society.


To be successful, skills training aiming at self-employment should be accompanied by literacy and numeracy classes as well as business management training. This will ensure that people have skills in conducting feasibility studies, costing, marketing and/or financial administration and book-keeping. The Camp Management Agency should also be aware that:

  • engaging too many people in the same income generating activity may saturate the market and limit income opportunities at a later stage. A thorough analysis of needs, opportunities and markets is therefore mandatory
  • coordination will avoid duplication and help to set standards for the different approaches regarding incentives, provision of materials, certification and length of training
  • selection of camp residents and members of the host community must be fair and transparent
  • supporting any livelihoods providers to identify appropriate trainees amongst the camp residents and host population is important
  • promoting the involvement of the host communities is vital
  • training duration will vary according to the type and the context. It is important to note what exactly was conducted within the training and whatever kind of certification is provided
  • within camp settings training courses may need to be limited to 3-6 months in order to enrol as many people as possible
  • adequate training facilities and storage facilities must be identified and allocated.


Minimum Economic Recovery Standards (MERS)

MERS is a Sphere-related intervention implemented by the Small Enterprise Education and Promotion (SEEP) network. It introduces the minimum level of assistance to provide the recovery of economies and livelihoods affected by crisis.



Income generating programmes may include a grant scheme, frequently accompanied by training in skills of literacy, numeracy and business. A grant scheme is different from micro finance as there is no repayment required. Grants, whether conditional or unconditional, can be allocated either via vouchers or cash, depending on the security situation. Both the availability of the required inputs on the local market and the people for whom they are intended, have to be thoroughly considered before deciding on either one of these methods. Grant schemes are especially relevant for supporting the livelihoods of the more vulnerable segments of the camp population and for small-scale inputs to assist peoples’ livelihoods in situations of limited market access.


Microfinance Schemes

Income generating programmes sometimes involve microfinance services that are accompanied by appropriate training, including literacy, numeracy or business management. Microfinance helps women and men access the capital necessary to expand their existing businesses and thus strengthen their self-employment and contribute to their own development. Most economic revival activities may require a certain level of possessions as well as know-how and vulnerable crisisaffected populations do often not qualify for this type of assistance. Microfinance schemes may be challenging to implement in a camp setting since they require:

  • a certain degree of political and demographic stability
  • selection of the right clients, who have entrepreneurial spirit
  • a functioning cash economy
  • a long-term approach including adequate assessment and appropriate programme design.