Protection and WASH with Venezuelan refugees

“What would make you feel safer where you live? How about if you had picked up your entire life and fled across the border in search of a better life?”

What would make you feel safer where you live? How about if you had picked up your entire life and fled across the border in search of a better life? For Venezuelan refugees in Ecuador, the fact that CARE built doors on bathrooms, and made sure women and men had separate places to sleep made them feel safer. In fact, 97% of people said they felt safer in CARE shelters.

Sometimes the basics matter the most: a door, a place to sleep, and someone who treats you with respect.

The project helped refuges in many ways, from training and support to access services and build a social network, to financial support to start a business where they can support themselves. Here are just two quotes:

“It was useful for me to receive this money two days after arriving to the country because it allowed me to buy sweets that I could sell on the street which helped me to support myself and my partner for a good [long] time"

"[CARE] not only provides kits or funding, but gives refugees valuable tools through workshops, to continue fighting the crisis."

Between April 2019 and March 2020, CARE Ecuador supported 11,266 people (5,692 of them were women)—primarily Venezuelan refugees. This was possible through the Protection, WASH, and Shelter Support for Vulnerable Venezuelan Refugees project with $650,000 from Global Affairs Canada and by coordinating with local partners.

What changed

  • People are satisfied with support. 98% of people say they are satisfied with CARE’s services. 98% of people felt that CARE was very transparent in the way we provided services.
  • People feel respected. 85% of people rated the respect and friendliness of CARE’s staff as excellent, and 14% rated it as good.
  • People feel safer. 97% of people say they felt safer in shelters CARE supported. 86% of people say that the lighting contributed to this—especially good lighting in public spaces/
  • People started new businesses with cash support. 91% of the people who got cash transfers thought this was enough, and many used it to buy transport or goods to start a new business and support themselves.
  • Hygiene got better. 85% of people adopted good hygiene practices, and 98% said that the hygiene kits they got helped them adopt these practices for at least 30 days.
  • People learned about services—especially to reduce violence. 100% of people said the sessions that helped them learn about gender-based violence and reducing risks during migration

How did it happen

  • Operate in multiple places. By being in several cities and consistently monitoring where changes were happening, CARE Ecuador was able to provide services at the places where refugees most needed help, and offer help as soon as they came across the border.
  • Work with others. Working closely and in coordination with local partners and actors, especially with social and women organizations helped us learn the context quickly, have more efficient operations, streamline costs, and adapt faster when the situation changed.
  • Support skills as well as services. The project provided GBV referral, reporting, and support training for 5,360 people—in CARE and for partners—to make sure everyone knew how to assist refugees who needed it.
  • Use cash, even digitally. The project provided $30 cash transfers to 10,204 people (of whom 5,155 were women and 114 were LGBTQI+ people). They even worked out a system so refugees could get the cash out of an ATM so that the process was faster and easier.
  • Customize support for people who need it. In addition to making sure that shelters had separate space for men, women, and children—including separate bathrooms, showers, and bedrooms, the project also customized hygiene kits to make sure men and women got what they needed. For example, men got razors and women got menstrual hygiene supplies. They provided specific support for LGBTQI+ people.
  • Be practical. The project provided hygiene kits for 4,504 people—22% more than planned. That’s because they were able to get creative with buying in bulk, buying the supplies people wanted most, customizing for men and women, and delivering quickly—all of which saved money. They also combined with other projects that offered legal services and mental health care so refugees could get the biggest number of services possible.
  • Get flexible. The project worked to monitor the security situation, COVID-19, and other changes in context to make sure they could adapt quickly. They also stayed in touch with participants to see what needed to change over time.

Want to learn more?

Check out the final evaluation.