Economic and social participation of vulnerable displaced persons

Project description

Title: Economic and social participation of vulnerable displaced per-sons and the local population in the South Caucasus (EPIC)
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Multi-state project, South Caucasus, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbai-jan
Lead executing agency: Ministry of the Internally Displaced Persons from the occupied Territories, Labour, Health and Social Affairs of Georgia; Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Armenia; State Committee for the Affairs of Refugees and Internally Dis-placed Persons of Azerbaijan 
Overall term: 2017 to 2021


As a result of territorial conflicts in the South Caucasus, hundreds of thousands of people in the region have had to flee their homes. The situation of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan is extremely complex due to ongoing conflicts. Dealing with internally displaced persons is a highly sensitive issue in both domestic and foreign policy. In the South Caucasus, internally and forcibly displaced persons belong to a particularly vulnerable population group and face numerous challenges. 

Many find it difficult to achieve the balancing act between integration into their new home and ties to their old one. On top of this, the situation of internally and forcibly displaced persons is exacerbated by uprooting, unfinished training, inadequate accommodation and a lack of future prospects. They are therefore particularly disadvantaged in terms of their economic and social development opportunities. In addition, there is a risk of political instrumentalisation by states and interest groups in the South Caucasus. 

Despite the recent economic growth, all three countries must continue to overcome poverty and social exclusion, which affect large segments of the population. Displaced persons lack access to education and economic development opportunities, while the unemployment rate is higher than among other population groups. What’s more, they are often socially isolated and have a lower life expectancy


The economic and social participation of disadvantaged displaced persons and the local population in the Caucasus has improved.


This objective is achieved through measures in the following four fields of activity:

  • Support for public administration: Improving the capacity to provide services to vulnerable population groups.
  • Promoting vulnerable population groups: The project takes account of employment qualifications and vocational skills, market-relevant career guidance, jobs that match qualifications, advice on starting a business and psychosocial measures.
  • Strengthening the local private sector: Increasing the demand for labour and creating opportunities for vulnerable people to find jobs and earn income.
  • Support for community and voluntary work with a special focus on young people and women: Enhancing participation in local social processes, community resilience and social cohesion.

The project takes an integrative approach that benefits all vulnerable population groups and promotes their economic and social participation. To this end, the project combines activities to support employability and business start-ups with efforts to strengthen non-profit organisations and civil society. This approach serves to address various aspects of social participation. All measures are geared to the needs of the target group and include psychosocial support services to strengthen the participants’ ability to help themselves. In addition, the project provides advice to state partners to also promote institutional participation.


Public stakeholders are using their improved capacities to develop and apply needs-based approaches for vulnerable population groups. Ten new services are currently being created, benefiting up to 40,000 people. 

Individuals who participated in measures aimed at promoting employability and entrepreneurship are leveraging their improved skills to find jobs or set up businesses. So far, 280 people have found a job and more than 150 people have started a business. With support from the project, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are optimising their value chains and increasing their productivity, which is also creating additional jobs. 

In the social sphere, women and young people in particular are encouraged and enabled through interesting activities, motivational training and new (self-managed) spaces to take an active role in local social life. In this way, women’s groups and youth groups are helping to address local needs, participating visibly in community life and making their voices heard.

Last update: April 2021