Refugee-led innovations during COVID-19: Best practices from 2020 NGO innovation award – World


In 2020, the UNHCR’s Non-Governmental Organizations (NGO) Innovation Award recognized the innovative solutions and responses to COVID-19 developed by refugee-led organisations (RLOs).

COVID-19 has exacerbated risks, challenges and needs for refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs), and stateless persons around the world. At the same time, the pandemic has spurred innovation and mobilized multifaceted responses by local actors, including organizations led by refugees, IDPs and other community-based organizations. They quickly responded to the needs of their communities, often with very limited resources. Their innovative responses have been instrumental in mitigating increased socio-economic risks, sexual and gender-based violence, food insecurity, and difficulties in accessing basic services due to the pandemic.

To recognize their achievements, UNHCR dedicated its 2020 NGO Innovation Award to RLOs that developed creative responses to support their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Through this Award, UNHCR wishes to showcase the leadership and crucial contributions of these RLOs in supporting their communities, and thus, demonstrate the need to expand and strengthen our partnerships with them.

Seven winners representing seven different regions: Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East were selected and received US$15,000 to continue and expand their work. In addition to the seven winners of the Award, many other noteworthy examples of innovative responses devised by RLOs stand out from over 400 nominations received.

Through featuring the wide set of diverse initiatives, including the work of the additional 13 organizations, UNHCR hopes to bring greater visibility to their important and innovative work and encourage
new initiatives and good practices.

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