Helpdesk Report: Health and nutrition for displaced populations

Helpdesk Report: Health and nutrition for displaced populations

This helpdesk report focuses on evidence of the most appropriate ways to support health and nutrition outcomes for management of protracted population displacement. It highlights information on psycho-social social impacts of protracted displacement (including gender).

Findings on health and nutrition management of protracted population displacement include:

  • a synthesis of food assistance programme evaluations finds unacceptably high numbers of refugees were food-insecure, women more so than men
  • a review of nutrition indicators evaluating performance of nutrition programmes in more than 90 camps in 18 countries found supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes exceeded nearly all standards
  • a feeding programme in Thailand used funds to subcontract the Burmese Border Consortium to organise food and fuel needs for Burmese refugees
  • evaluation of managing health in a protracted refugee situation in Kakuma, Kenya, shows the advantages of specialisation in delivering healthcare
  • a district in Uganda used a planning mechanism called ‘Quality Design’ to bring user expectations together with technical standards for service integration
  • long-term support for protracted refugees fits uneasily with conventional donor funding modalities

Findings on psychosocial impacts of displacement include:

  • experience of conflict and displacement inherently involves exposure to a range of stressors and has the potential to negatively impact the mental health and well-being of everyone affected
  • although protracted displacement increases the risk of mental health disorders, it is striking that more people do not develop them. Factors preventing adverse mental health outcomes are likely to be individualised and include an individual’s natural response to stress, and social support networks available
  • UNHCR have recommendations and guidelines to operationalise mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) interventions in those experiencing protracted displacement
  • experience of gender based violence (GBV) has been significantly associated with increased risk of poor mental health outcomes
  • children experience stressors associated with displacement differently to adults


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