The Well-Being & Adjustment Index

Free and easy-to-use tool for practitioners working with refugee populations.
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The Well-Being & Adjustment Index is a free and easy-to-use tool for practitioners working with refugee populations. The tool measures the collective impact of services for refugee families and tracks household progress toward self-reliance.

Download the Well-Being & Adjustment Tool Index

Co-Creators Dale and Kellie

Co-Creators: Dale Buscher & Kellie Leeson

Kellie and Dale met frequently at meetings to discuss urban refugees, the lack of attention this population was receiving and the need to develop different approaches for populations living in cities. At some point they converged on the need to find better ways to support refugees, through improved monitoring and case management. This tool was developed to fill this monitoring gap.

Dale Buscher is the Senior Director of Programs at the Women’s Refugee Commission. Dale has been working in the refugee assistance field since 1988 in a variety of capacities including work in the Philippines, Cuba, Northern Iraq, and throughout the Balkans. He has led programs with the International Catholic Migration Commission and with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees where he wrote the handbook, Operational Protection in Camps and Settlements. He has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Utah and a Bachelors of Science degree from Iowa State University.

Kellie C. Leeson is an independent consultant. She has over fifteen years of experience focused on refugee issues working throughout East Africa, Russia and Cote d’Ivoire with the International Rescue Committee and Concern Worldwide. Most recently she was the Managing Director at the Development Research Institute at New York University. She supervised the assessment and advocacy report titled, Hidden and Exposed: Urban Refugees in Nairobi, Kenya. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a Master of Arts from Teachers College, Columbia University.

In addition, significant support has been provided by WRC staff members Anna Myers, Research Officer, and Shahd Osman, Atlas Fellow.

Our Connection to the Women's Refugee Commission

Founded in 1989 WRC has been a leading expert on the needs of refugee women and children, and the policies that can protect and empower them. WRC improves the lives and protects the rights of women, children and youth displaced by conflict and crisis. WRC researches their needs, identifies solutions and advocates for programs and policies to strengthen their resilience and drive change in humanitarian practice.

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The humanitarian community responds to refugee crisis with a myriad of services and resources to alleviate suffering, save lives and address basic needs. The impact of the service provision and resources allocated, however, are seldom captured and aggregated.

That is, while organizations document the number of children in school, the number of health clinic visits, and the number of beneficiaries receiving food distributions, the collective impact of these programs at the household level have not been consistently measured. Further, the short-term focus of many refugee interventions has meant that self-reliance is typically not part of the program design, yet we know from refugees that becoming self-reliant is an overarching priority

This tool was developed to assist case managers, measure change and improve monitoring around refugee well-being and self-reliance.

Tool Development

This tool was developed to promote resilience over vulnerability, build on the asset model approach and engage with clients through a case management approach.

Resilience was defined as the ability of people, households, communities, countries and systems to mitigate, adapt to, and recover from shocks and stresses in a manner that reduces chronic vulnerability and facilitates inclusive growth. A comprehensive literature review, a review of refugee and resettlement monitoring tools, practitioner and refugee input in Lebanon and expert consultations led to the initial tool that was tested in year one in Lebanon. The tool, comprised of 12 questions, aims to provide a comprehensive snap shot of refugee family well-being.

The initial tool was tested by three partners in Lebanon monitoring the progress of 330 refugee households. After the first year, the pilot was expanded and an additional 500 households were monitored in Ecuador and Egypt using the Well-Being and Adjustment Index. Additionally, following consultations in Ecuador and Egypt small tweaks were made to the tool for universal adaptability. Funding for this pilot was generously provided by the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

Lessons Learned

In the design and piloting of the Index, we demonstrated that a simple tool can capture the most vital data necessary to provide a picture of a refugee household’s well-being both in terms of decreases (or not) in vulnerability and increases (or not) in self-reliance. It worked across the geographic contexts and populations and it was able to capture the relevant, high level data needed to understand if refugee households were becoming less vulnerable and more resilient over time.

The indicators chosen were found to be relevant and appropriate to measure change in well-being, that is, reductions in vulnerability and increases in resilience, at the household level. The indicators selected in collaboration with implementing partners working with refugees, were deemed necessary and sufficient for the purpose of the tool during evaluation.

Download Lessons Learned Report

Next Steps

Next Steps

WRC is now partnering with RefugePoint to convene with others who are also struggling with these same questions. The aim is to come up with common indicators for global use to facilitate humanitarian work in providing the most relevant services to refugees, and help to move them along a path toward self-reliance.

The humanitarian community clearly needs simple tools that can capture its collective impact: only then will we be able to maximize use of limited resources and channel resources to those most in need; and only then we will be able to develop the evidence to demonstrate to donors and the broader public about the effectiveness of humanitarian action.

This work will be taken forward at a workshop in Nairobi in March 2017.
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