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 Report - UNHCR Fizuli Reintegration Strategy: Past Achievements and Future Directions (March 1997) (UNHCR)

 Report date: 28.02.1997

UNHCR FIZULI REINTEGRATION STRATEGY: PAST ACHIEVEMENTS AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS  UNHCR Fizuli Reintegration Strategy: Past Achievements and Future  Directions (March 1997)


1.1. The majority of the region of Fizuli was occupied by Armenian forces during their offensive in October 1993 which, by December, ended with the capture of Jibrail, Qubadli and Zangilan. However in January 1994 the Azeri army launched a counter-offensive which managed to re-capture about half of the lost territory of the region ("rayon"), including 22 villages. Ever since, a cease-fire regime has been established although sporadic violations are reported.

1.2. According to GoA statistics the region had originally a population of 89,417 persons, including 31,700 from the area that has since been liberated. According to official data, after liberation 40,079 persons returned to the freed area, (21,983 original residents and 18,157 from areas still under occupation). War and occupation have resulted in widespread destruction of private houses, communal centres and infrastructure, but with different rates between villages. The Fizuli population can therefore be divided into 5 categories: a) residents/returnees whose houses have not been damaged; b) returnees to the liberated, but war-affected areas; c) Fizulians displaced within their own region (from the parts still under occupation); d) Fizulians displaced outside their region, originating from liberated areas; e) Fizulians displaced outside their region, originating from occupied areas. The UNHCR reintegration project focuses on categories b), c) and d). According to GoA data (not verified), the level of destruction in the 22 liberated villages includes: 4,171 individual houses, 25 schools, 23 hospitals, 166 bore wells. It should be noted that there is also a string of villages in a Fizuli-like situation all along the frontline, particularly in the areas of Terter, Aghdam and Agjebedi.

1.3. Since 1996 the issue of the reconstruction of Fizuli and other war-affected areas featured prominently in the UNHCR Country Operation Plan. It was envisaged that the project would bring about the following benefits: 1) deliver much needed assistance to returnees and IDPs in the liberated areas; 2) serve as a model/pilot project for the wider reconstruction when a peace settlement will be reached; 3) identify roles, establish functional links and develop an inter-agency mechanism among different UNOs, IGOs and NGOs; 4) revitalize the interest of donors; 5) bring some of the "dividends of peace" to Azerbaijan.


2.1. Objectives

The 1996 UNHCR project set aside some $ 650,000 to implement a rehabilitation programme in Fizuli. Although the programme was designed as a multisectorial one encompassing fields such as water, sanitation and income generation (crop production and animal husbandry), the main emphasis was on shelter, which was assessed as the most urgent need. Since most houses were rather large with two floors, it was estimated that the cost for a total reconstruction could range between $5,000 and 10,000. As a result it was deemed more appropriate to carry out only partial rehabilitation of the (semi) destroyed houses given that the international community was unlikely to afford all the necessary cash for the total reconstruction of all the war-affected houses of the occupied territories after a peace settlement. House electrification and, where appropriate, VIP latrines and bath houses were included in the package. The guidelines for the implementing partner - IRC - were therefore to rehabilitate one room (24 to 30 m2) per family with a cross-section of the roof, to be doubled in case two related families were sharing the house. Although leaving the rest of the walls exposed might cause in the long-run structural damage, this approach was predicated by the need to contain costs and at the same time "jump start" the family life of returnees by providing a minimum of accommodation. Roof completion could be considered by the beneficiaries on a self-help basis or by development agencies (eg. on a credit basis). However given that most houses are far larger than the actual needs of the beneficiaries, another option that can be considered is to reduce the floor area and recycle some material for more rehabilitation. This is particularly appropriate when the walls are no longer structurally sound.

The following selection criteria were established:

1) The owner of the house has repatriated and lives in or near the damaged house (often in an adjacent animal shed).

2) The house is structurally sound and eventual complete rehabilitation is feasible.

3) The owner and/or family members is willing to work as unpaid labourer in the rehabilitation as much as possible.

4) Preference and special assistance (labour) will be given to vulnerable cases (women-headed households, elderly, handicapped).

The average cost to carry out the partial rehabilitation of houses was estimated at around $ 1,500, including an in-kind donation of timber by Swedish donors. Implementation was to be carried out directly by IRC technical teams allowing for maximum use of returnee participation thereby maximizing their resources (material and labour). The aim was to carry out the partial rehabilitation of some 300 damaged houses. Provisions were also made to carry out Public Building Rehabilitation (PBR) on schools occupied by IDPs, drawing on the experience gained by IRC and UNHCR in the rest of the country. Finally the project also included activities in the field of sanitation (VIP toilets), water (repair of pumps and boreholes), crop production (vegetable gardening) and animal husbandry (sheep).

2.2. External variables and constraints

The main constraint that affected the project has been that of access that was required beyond the two checkpoints (between Mahmudlu I and Boyuk Bahmanli on the southern road and between Lower and Upper Kurdmahmudlu on the northern route). Permits were sometimes granted on an ad hoc basis. A high level mission by the World Bank which ended with the establishment of a State Commission for Reconstruction and Rehabilitation in July 1996, provided a new institutional scenario for the project. The Commission, headed by the DPM Mr. Abid Sharifov, included other high level GoA officials and envisaged the creation of a policy, planning and implementing agency (ARRA - Agency for Rehabilitation and Reconstruction of Azerbaijan) and an Advisory Group chaired by UNDP and the World Bank. The main players behind the establishment of ARRA were UNDP, which pledged US $ 2 million for capacity building (setting up of ARRA office and initial reconstruction of 30 houses in Horadiz) and WB, which pledged $ 1.3 million for capacity building/technical assistance (consultants). UNHCR, although perfectly willing to coordinate its activities with the Commission, made it clear from the beginning that its mandate required implementation through non governmental organisations.

2.3. Achievements

As a result of the above scenario, UNHCR had to substantially revise downwards its objectives and decided to start with the partial rehabilitation of damaged houses in villages before the check points, where 13 houses met the criteria. This was not only dictated by the question of access, but also by an assessment of the situation on the ground. A visit to Horadiz, a ghost town close to the Armenian frontline that was chosen by the Commission as a start for their rehabilitation programme, revealed that the site was not only too large and complex for UNHCR's activities to have a significant impact, but also raised concerns regarding issues of security (see below). Furthermore, without the prior rehabilitation of some infrastructure and community services, return of IDPs might have been premature. Eventually UNHCR and IRC decided to move temporarily from Fizuli to the Gyamaddinli village in the region of Agjebedi which was in a Fizuli-like situation affected by shelling). It hosted 43 damaged houses (on average more damaged than in Fizuli), including those of 22 families who were living in the Agjebedi Turkish camp that was recently vacated by the Turkish RC and therefore suffering considerable hardship. Within the above constraints UNHCR/IRC were able to achieve the following in the last six months of 1996:

Table 1: UNHCR/IRC achievements in the 1996 reintegration project

Region       Village                        No. of houses/fams         VIPs/Bath houses
                                                                      completed/                            completed/
                                                                      in progress                             in progress
Fizuli          Dilgarda                              1/1              -                     1/1
Fizuli          Mahmudlu -1                      1/2               -                    1/1
Fizuli          Ahmedbeyli                         5/6               -                    4/2
Fizuli          Lower Kurdmahmudlu        6/9                -                    5/5
Agjebedi    Giyammadinli                      13/21          3/4                     -                   7/11
TOTAL                                                26/39          3/4                   11/9               7/11

In addition UNHCR and IRC have carried out Public Building Rehabilitation on one school in Ahmedbeyli and one in Bala Bahmanli, all located in the Fizuli region. These schools were partially occupied by a total of 58 IDP families and partially used as schools. As in other PBR activities the objectives were: a) insulation of the buildings from the elements (repair of leaking roofs, broken windows, etc.); b) safety (re-do the whole electric system to avoid dangerous multiple connections, etc.); c) provision of extra living space (partitions in large halls occupied by multiple families to increase privacy and thermal insulation, provision of doors and handles). PBR was carried out by contractors (some of them IDPs) selected on the basis of competitive bidding. Moreover IRC and UNHCR have also repaired a water source (pump) in Upper/Lower Kurdmahmudlu. A budget covering the '96 project is enclosed in Annex I.3. THE 1997 PROJECT: THE CHALLENGE OF AN INTEGRATED APPROACH

3.1. UNHCR's Objectives in 1997

UNHCR's overall aim is to initiate the transition from emergency rehabilitation to reconstruction and development in an organic manner, that is not only focusing on physical rehabilitation, but also on other issues affecting the reintegration process, such as protection/safety, registration/de-registration, income generation. Important factors also include the replicability of the project, that is a low-cost approach that can be repeated in case of large-scale repatriation, beneficiary participation (at the family or community level) and gender issues. The following is a more detailed analysis.

a) Protection and safety. Voluntary repatriation under conditions of safety and dignity is one of the cornerstones of UNHCR's mandate. The main question to be asked is whether appropriate steps have been taken to ensure safety and security. Anecdotal evidence supported by the preliminary results of a World Bank socioeconomic survey (in which UNHCR actively participated) suggests that there are indeed some safety concerns, at least in parts of Fizuli. The majority of the sampled interviewees quoted demining and security as the most important factors affecting the decision to return. It is only reasonable to assume that proximity to the frontline involves higher security risks (mining is normally prevalent, but also danger of sniper fire). Furthermore, the principle of the voluntariness of repatriation should also be upheld in IDP situations (see International Legal Standards Applicable to the Protection of IDPs: A Reference Manual for UNHCR Staff, section E.3)

b) Geographical areas. As a result of the above concerns (including the issue of lack of infrastructure), UNHCR has deemed it more prudent to start from the villages closer to the rest of Azerbaijan. For the 1997 project we have preliminarily identified the villages of Boyuk Bahmanli, Araz Yaglivend, Karimbeyli and Upper Kurdmahmudlu which would constitute the logical extension of the 1996 project. This would be subject to a mine/security assessment, particularly relevant for Upper Kurdmahmudlu where the danger might be high. Finally, subject to a verification of the damage assessment figures provided by the GoA and speed of implementation, we may consider venturing in the war-affected areas of Aghdam and Terter.

c) Rehabilitation. According to the preliminary results of the survey, housing features in third place after safety and demining as a condition for return. Furthermore, most beneficiaries seem to prefer a self-help approach. As a result UNHCR wishes to continue its project of partial rehabilitation on 150 damaged houses allowing for maximum beneficiary participation (labour and material). Considering that each house is different and the varying size of families, house rehabilitation has to be assessed on a case by case basis. However the general guideline remains to have a minimum of one room per family and 4.5 - 5 m2 per person. The number of rooms will be doubled when two related families live together (eg. married children or in-laws for whom it is culturally inappropriate to sleep in the same room with the rest of the family). For planning purposes, UNHCR has budgeted a lumpsum of $ 2,000 per house as a package including shelter and water (boreholes, pumps, pipelines) rehabilitation and sanitation (VIP latrine, bath houses). Adequate technical staff will ensure the necessary supervision. Rehabilitation activities will also include PBR (see above) for IDPs (as opposed to returnees) living in public buildings and farm shelters in Fizuli as part of the general IDP programme. However, in contrast with PBR in normal IDPs situations, in Fizuli the emphasis will be not only on the IDPs living quarters, but also on teaching and communal areas.

d) Reintegration. These activities aim at reintegrating households into the communities. The shift is from physical rehabilitation to self-reliance. In the first place the issue of registration and de-registration should be addressed systematically. For those who have already repatriated, passports should be checked to verify whether they are registered with the Fizuli Excom and if they bear the stamp of any relief agency which provided assistance in their previous place of residence. In this case the stamp should be crossed out. All the names of beneficiaries of reintegration assistance should be circulated to the main agencies to avoid the continuation of relief assistance. Conversely, returnees could be provided with a reintegration food package of at least six months if necessary to be to allow them to get through a planting season. The possibility of Food For Work (FFW) activities for residents in order to avoid intra-communal tensions may be explored. Moreover they should sign an agreement that they are willing to participate in the reconstruction free of charge and that they are going to live in the rehabilitated premises. In case they fail to do so they should compensate the agency for the cost of material. Regarding those who have not yet repatriated but have a damaged house, they should be given a one month notice through neighbours and the Excom. Once they turn up, in addition to the above mentioned agreement they should produce a WFP registration transfer form.Regarding income generation (IG) activities the preliminary results of the socioeconomic survey show that the vast majority of Fizulians are from an agricultural background. As a result the focus will be on crop production and animal husbandry. To this effect UNHCR and IRC have made budgetary provisions for the procurement of 500 family greenhouses with seeds and tools sets, 10 commercial greenhouses and 600 sheep for 120 vulnerable families. An agronomist and sheep specialist will be hired in cooperation with VOCA, an NGO supported by USAID. Furthermore Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) will be implemented to meet community based needs in different sectors. The aim is to integrate different categories of people (locals, returnees and IDPs) into self-sustaining communities. Finally we are also planning to involve UNICEF in providing psychosocial and educational support in connection with our PBR.

e) Capacity building. This is a crucial component of the transition from rehabilitation to reconstruction and development since it aims at ensuring the sustainability of the project. UNHCR and IRC are already engaged in capacity building at the household level by ensuring beneficiary participation in the rehabilitation activities. Furthermore, 11 carpentry/masonry kits have been distributed to returnees who showed initiative. In 1997, in addition to these activities, we are exploring the possibility of training ARRA and/or Fizuli Excom officials on protection issues concerning voluntary repatriation and to employ some of their staff as trainees with IRC on management and technical issues if desired. This capacity building at the government level should be complemented at the level of civil society with the development of local NGOs. UNHCR's IPs have already been requested to look into this possibility.3.2. Institutional FrameworkBesides UNHCR and IRC there are many other actors on the Fizuli scene, some of whom were mentioned above. They include: The GoA (Commission and ARRA), WB and UNDP (which sit on the advisory board of the Commission), ICRC, MSF/Belgium and, since recently, ECHO/ GTZ and TACIS. It may be useful to classify these agencies according to their mandate/function and mode of implementation.

Table 2: Interagency institutional framework for the Fizuli Project Agency    Mandate/Function                                               Implementation
GoA        Coordination, reconstruction                                ARRA
UNHCR  Relief/rehabilitationRepatriation/reintegration         NGOs
UNDP     Reconstruction/development                                 GoA (ARRA)
WB         Planning, reconstruction,develop.                           GoA (ARRA)
ECHO    Relief/rehabilitation                                                 NGOs (GTZ, MSF/B)
TACIS    Technical assistance, development                         GoA
ICRC      Relief in conflict;International Humanitarian LawMine Awareness Progr. Direct
USAID    Relief, rehabilitation, development                         NGOs (?)

ARRA, through UNDP and WB funding, has carried out the rehabilitation of 30 damaged houses in Horadiz, although they might engaged in more development-oriented activities in the near future. ICRC is providing humanitarian and medical assistance to military victims of the sporadic violations of the ceasefire as well as food distributions to returnees and IDPs. It has also carried out some repairs of pumps and boreholes and some PBR. MSF/B has carried out some rehabilitation activities on the hospital in Bala Bahmanli with ECHO funding and is carrying out other health activities. Other EU agencies have not yet started activities, but have hinted that they will concentrate on water and infrastructure, at least in the beginning. Finally, as mentioned above, there is a need to involve WFP in the provision of food reintegration packages and FFW if appropriate and UNICEF in the provision of pshychosocial and educational support. UNFPA may also provide inputs in connection with UNHCR's Reproductive Health Programme.

3.3. Towards an organic interagency division of labour

A successful rehabilitation and reconstruction policy should not focus on a narrow objective, but take into account the wider whole in terms of sectors (shelter, water, protection, IG, communal facilities, etc.), timeframe and sequencing (eg. demining land tenure and water before shelter; the important issue of maintenance). There is also an urgent need to carry out an interagency review of the damage assessment figures which should constitute a database for any meaningful division of labour. Moreover, given the complexity of the task (to be increased manyfold when the wider repatriation will take place), interagency division of labour should not limit itself to coordination, but should achieve synergies considering the mandates and specializations of the various agencies. As mentioned in the UNHCR Global Strategy Paper of 21 September 1996: "sustainable reintegration and recovery requires simultaneous rather than sequential activities, undertaken by organizations with different but complementary competencies".This means that agencies with different mandates should complement themselves organically much like the different parts of a body perform different functions as a coherent whole. On the other hand, for agencies with similar mandates and modes of implementation, the division of labour should be geographical (different areas) rather than functional. Another aspect that is often overlooked is that different activities implemented by the various agencies should be designed taking into account their impact at different social and geographical levels, namely the family, the village and the region. This has also implications regarding what is broadly described as "community participation". The following table attempts to summarize a sketch of a possible organic interagency division of labour.

Table 3: Sketch of a possible organic interagency division of labour Sociological/Geographical Levels

Short Term(Yearly)Rehabilitation/Reintegration    Long Term (Multiyear) Reconstruction/Dev
UNHCR: rehab (shelter, sanit) IG. (agric.,             WB/UNDP/ARRA: credit to complete
sheep) ECHO: rehab.WFP: Food reinteg.              rehab, microfin.
UNHCR:commerc.greenhouses PBR, QUIPs,        UNDP/WB/ARRA:small industrial
water;UNICEF: psychosoc. educ supp;                   workshops;maintenance,complet.of PBR
ECHO: rehab, waterWFP: FFW
ICRC: M. A. P.WB, GoA: Demining;                     WB/UNDP/ARRA:roads,infra-structure,
ECHO: Health                                                         large scale irrigation, agricultureTACIS:                                                                                development

3.4. Next steps

a) Interagency review damage assessment figures and criteria. This should be the pre-requisite for an inter-agency division of labour. It should also include agreed categories/definitions. For example "completely destroyed" should mean rased to the ground, that is beyond rehabilitation; "partially destroyed" no roof, no doors and windows (the "classical" case); "minor repairs" leaking roof, etc.

b) Review of the mines/security issue. Agencies, NGOs and the GoA should share all information concerning this issue with a view to agreeing on safe and unsafe areas. In this respect UNHCR has already requested ICRC to hold a seminar on mine awareness for its staff and IPs. Moreover, a short survey through questionnaires on mine risk will be carried out on a random smaple of residents and local officials before starting rehabilitation in any new area.

c) Review of coordination issues. There is an urgent need to have a working meeting between the GoA (ARRA) and the main donor agencies to share plans and agree on the issue of division of labour (who is doing what where). A food policy should also be part of the agenda. We are also considering the possibility of including rehabilitation as an item on the agenda of the monthly non-food interagency meeting for routine exchange of information and/or establish a Fizuli Working Group.

d) Lessons learned. In the spirit of capacity building there is a need to ensure that successes and mistakes of the various rehabilitation activities undertaken so far are properly documented and shared among the concerned parties. This is crucial if we want to consider Fizuli as a "pilot project" before the wider repatriation.

e) Linkages with line ministries. There is a need to establish a mechanism to involve the main line ministries that are likely to be engaged in the reconstruction process (health, education, agriculture, etc.)

f) UNHCR's role. UNHCR should obtain an active and visible role in Fizuli and equal status with UNDP and the World Bank in the Advisory Group in supporting ARRA, also considering its protection mandate. This is essential in order to ensure an integrated multi-sectorial approach to an overall reintegration plan.


Region              Activity/Achievements     Total cost(US $)    Cost/family   Cost/house
Fizuli                     Single shelter rehab:               18, 886                    1,110             1,452
                             13 houses/17 families
                             PBR: 2 buildings/58 families    12,600                       217

Agjebedi              Single shelterrehab: 13 houses
                                                          /21 families  32, 016                 1, 524             2,462
TOTAL                                                                63, 502
                            Sector support cost (est.) (1) : $ 30,416
                                         TOTAL SECTOR G:  $93,918


Rehabilitation of one borehole in Upper Kurdmahmudlu (pump, pipeline and labour): $ 2,508 Sector support cost (est.) 1,200
                                         TOTAL SECTOR D:   $3,708


Construction of 19 individual VIP latrines and 9 bath-houses: $ 2,304
Sector support cost (est.) 1,100
                                         TOTAL SECTOR E:  $3,404


                                            GRAND TOTAL:  $68,314 (physical/construction)
                                                                        + 32,716 (estimated sector support costs)
                                                                        + 20,328 (est. agency operational support)
                                                                      = $121,358   (1997 PROJECT)


Single shelter  150              2,000 (3)                300,000
rehab. PBR    100 (4)          350 - 35,000 (fams.)
Sector support(est.) lumpsum 57,472
TOTAL SECTOR G:  $392,472


Fam. greenhouses  500              120                         60,000
Comm.greenhouses 10            1,200                        12,000
Agric toolsets         500               14                          7,000
Sector support (est.) lumpsum 75,400
TOTAL SECTOR J: $154,400


Sheep purchase 600 (= 120 35 21,000 families) Fodder 12 kg x month lumpsum 5,760
Vaccines lumpsum 600
Sector support lumpsum (est.) 7,535

GRAND TOTAL: 441,360 (physical) + 140,407 (sector support costs)+ 62,000 = $643,767

(1) Sector support cost are those directly related to the achievement of sectorial objectives, eg. salaries of technical staff, transportation, etc. Given that the Fizuli rehabilitation project is only a component of the various sectors of UNHCR's project with IRC, they are estimated on a percentage basis (eg. percentage of Fizuli physical objectives/achievements against the total sectorial physical objectives/achievements).
(2) Agency support costs are those mainly Baku-incurred, eg. salary of Country Director, rent of head office. As for sector support costs, they are estimated on a percentage basis.
(3) This lumpsum includes water and sanitation as required and in-built savings from a Swedish in-kind donation (timber).
(4) This planning figure will vary according to the inputs from other agencies involved in PBR, like ECHO/ICRC.

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