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International Partnerships

Inclusion of populations affected by displacement in Costa Rica

The number of displaced people in Costa Rica far exceeds the number that have been officially documented, leaving them outside the system with no access to healthcare or justice
The number of displaced people in Costa Rica far exceeds the number that have been officially documented, leaving them outside the system with no access to healthcare or justice © UNFPA

This project aims to protect refugees and other displaced people and their host communities in central and northern Costa Rica.

The number of displaced people in Costa Rica (primarily from Nicaragua, Venezuela, Cuba, El Salvador and Colombia) significantly exceeds the number that has been officially documented. This leaves those outside the system without access to healthcare, economic opportunities and justice.

This project aims to assist a target population of over 21 000 people, of which at least 51% are women. This project is being implemented through funding provided by the Lives in Dignity (LiD) Grant Facility.

Scope and objectives

The social, political and economic crisis in Venezuela and the displacement of populations from across Central America has left vulnerable populations often languishing in economically-deprived areas in host countries. They are exposed to hostility from host communities, the ravages of climate change and a sharp increase in gender-based violence. Although Costa Rica is one of the most economically-prosperous countries in Central America and has signed up to a number of international and regional initiatives and treaties related to displacement and development (e.g. the Global Compact for Refugees, the Comprehensive Regional Framework for Protection and Solutions for the Americas and the Inter-American Convention for the Prevention and Eradication of Violence against Women), the country is struggling to protect the rights of displacement-affected communities, especially those whose status has not yet been recognised by the state.

This project focuses on protection against violence, the development of livelihoods and building resilience against the impact of disasters and climate change. A partnership between Fundación Mujer and Fundación Ayuda en Acción (AeA), each with complementary skills, experience and expertise, will support communities in the settlements of Upala, Los Chiles and La Cruz along Costa Rica’s border with Nicaragua – some of the most economically deprived in the country.

The project will work in alliance with the Costa Rica Ministry of Education, the Shelter Unit, the INAMU Women's Institute, the PANI Children's Board and the Cantonal Emergency Committee, the latter of which has long standing relationships with 25 host communities and schools in the three target settlements. 

Expected results

Increased income and livelihood opportunities for people affected by displacement

  • 100 operational-level officials (50% of whom are women) and 150 entrepreneurs and business owners (40%of whom are women from the host community) will receive training to better address the needs and vulnerabilities of displaced persons
  • At least 1 340 displaced people (at least 53% of whom are women) will be served by social protection systems
  • 1 320 displaced people (53% of whom are women), 230 entrepreneurs (168 women and 62 men) and 1 073 people from the host communities (53% of whom are women) will benefit from vocational training and skills development programmes for self-employment

Increased sense of security and enjoyment of human rights among displaced people

  • 1 500 displaced people (800 women and 700 men) will have improved rights to education and health
  • 140 officials (50% men and 50% women) from institutions related to social welfare and health will receive training on the rights of displaced people to security, protection and freedom from violence.
  • 6 000 people (60% of whom are women and 40% men) will be informed how they can access resources for the prevention of, and protection from, gender-based violence, in both the displaced and host communities
  • 480 displaced women in host communities who are at risk of gender-based violence will receive psychosocial support and/or legal advice
  • 1 337 children and adolescents from the displaced and host communities will have accessto digital initiatives that reinforce an understanding of their rights

Improved prevention, protection and solutions for climate-related disasters and displacement

  • 2 535 community leaders, including those in the displaced and host populations, will benefit from risk reduction and preparedness training
  • 10 000 people from 25 host communities will benefit from simulation exercises and/or disaster drills, and the development of an early warning system and operational preparedness planning to respond to crises related to climate change and disasters
  • 35 community projects related to the mitigation of, and protection from the impacts of climate change will be initiated


The EU-UNOPS Lives in Dignity Grant Facility was founded in 2020. The facility aims to promote development-oriented approaches and solutions to new, recurrent and protracted displacement crises. It funds innovative projects that support the resilience of communities and empower their members through livelihoods and basic services, making a concrete difference in the lives of displaced people.

This project will be jointly undertaken by two organisations with a long history of working in Costa Rica, Fundación Ayuda en Acción (AeA) and Fundación Mujer, in cooperation with the local and national government. In 2018, alongside becoming a signatory of the Global Compact for Refugees, Costa Rica developed the National Integration Plan for Costa Rica 2018 – 2022, which outlined the country’s plan to bolster comprehensive care, effective migration control, the regularisation of displaced people, care for vulnerable populations, humanitarian assistance and national security. This project will contribute to the realisation of this plan.

Implementing organisations

Fundación Ayuda en Acción (AeA) and Fundación Mujer