Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
March 29, 2013

Please contact Bryan Schaaf at schaafbj@state.gov for an executive summary of the evaluation.

Project Overview and Key Findings

By 2012, over 4.6 million Afghan refugees had returned to Afghanistan. This represents the largest return operation in UNHCR’s history. PRM funded Terra-P in order to evaluate the impact of PRM-funded reintegration assistance from FY 2009-2011 in order to identify best practices, lessons learned, and to inform future programmatic and diplomatic decisions. Findings and recommendations are based on evidence from an exhaustive review of 26 PRM-funded programs implemented by NGOs in three provinces of high return from FY 2009-2011. The designated provinces of Kabul, Nangarhar and Balkh account for half of the assisted returnees since March 2002. Some key findings include:

• Post-return mobility is the norm. Upon arrival, all returnees moved at least once, usually from rural to urban areas, and the majority also travel abroad or domestically much more often than their non-returnee counterparts;

• Statistically significant factors that affected welfare included the region of the country, gainful employment, health, rural or urban settings, the number of years in one place and vulnerability. Most returnees reach household welfare parity with non-returnees between seven and nine years after return; and

• Assistance programming helped returnees achieve parity with non returnees more quickly. However, assistance was weakest in terms of food security and livelihood promotion. Both returnees and non-returnees prioritized land and electricity as needs.


According to the evaluation, future programming should focus on consolidating gains, closing gaps in disparity, and transitioning from relief to development. This can be accomplished by:

• Adapting reintegration programs to reflect the mobility of the returnee population;

• Mainstreaming reintegration assistance into broader development assistance programs to transition the returnees into long-term solutions;

• Engage directly with the Government of Afghanistan and development partners to encourage integration of refugees into national plans and programs, particularly those which will increase access to livelihoods; and

• Improve job creation and poverty alleviation for returnees in urban areas.