Economic and social participation of vulnerable displaced persons

Project description

Title: Economic and social participation of vulnerable displaced people and local populations in the Caucasus
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Countries: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia
Overall term: 2017 to 2021


In the South Caucasus, internally displaced people (IDPs) and refugees are a particularly vulnerable group. Due to longstanding territorial conflicts in the region, a large part of the population has been displaced. There are currently about 900,000 IDPs in the area, which is roughly seven per cent of the total population. As a result of these frozen conflicts, the situation of IDPs in all three countries is extremely complex and highly sensitive at both domestic and foreign policy levels. Displaced people in the South Caucasus face many difficulties, including finding a balance between integration and attachment to their old homeland, having to abandon their education, coming to terms with being uprooted and dealing with inadequate housing, lack of prospects and the danger of political instrumentalisation. This puts them at a particular disadvantage when it comes to opportunities for economic and social development.

Despite recent economic growth, all three countries still face the challenge of overcoming poverty and social exclusion, which affects a significant proportion of the population. Displaced people lack access to education and economic development support, are more often unemployed and socially isolated, have lower life expectancy and participate less in society.


Economic and social participation among disadvantaged displaced people and the local population in the Caucasus has improved.


This objective will be achieved through measures in the following four fields of action:

  • Supporting the capacity of public authorities to improve the provision of services to vulnerable groups;
  • Strengthening the skills and qualifications of vulnerable groups, with particular emphasis on employability, market-relevant career orientation, job matching, business start-up advice, professional qualifications and psychosocial measures;
  • Developing the local private sector - strengthening the demand for labour and creating opportunities for vulnerable people to take up employment and earn an income;
  • Encouraging community and voluntary engagement to improve local participation, community resilience and social cohesion.

The project, which is known by its abbreviation ‘EPIC’, pursues an integrative approach that benefits all vulnerable population groups and promotes their economic and social participation. The project combines activities to support employability and business start-ups with efforts to strengthen non-profit organisations and civil society, thereby covering various aspects of social participation. All measures are geared to the needs of the target group and include psychosocial support services to build the participants’ capacity to help themselves. By providing advice to state partners, the project also encourages institutions to get involved.


The measures that have been implemented are beginning to bear fruit. Public stakeholders are using their improved capacities to develop and apply demand-oriented approaches for vulnerable population groups. And the beneficiaries of measures to promote employability and entrepreneurship are taking advantage of their improved skills to find jobs or set up businesses. About half of those who have taken part in employment promotion programmes have so far found work. With project support, micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) are optimising their value chains and increasing their productivity, which is creating additional jobs. Social participation has also been given a boost. Through interesting activities, motivation training and new (self-managed) spaces, women and young people in particular are being encouraged and enabled to play an active role in local society. In this way, women’s and youth groups are helping to address local needs, participating visibly in community life and making their voices heard.