AGORA – Developing tools for area-based assessments: Launch of new pilot in Diffa, Niger
Since 2013, the region of Diffa in south-eastern Niger has become the temporary home of more than 200,000 displaced persons. Among them are both Nigerian refugees and internally displaced Nigeriens, all of whom have fled the violence of the Boko Haram conflict. As is the case in many contemporary displacement contexts, most of the crisis-affected people do not live in refugee or IDP camps. Rather, they have settled in semi-urban areas, where they live alongside host communities. Such a displacement pattern presents many unresolved challenges to humanitarian actors, most crucially the challenge of how to effectively and reliably gather information on the needs of both displaced and host populations in out of camp areas.
IMPACT and ACTED’s newly launched initiative, AGORA, is currently testing an innovative approach to data collection and information management in out-of-camp displacement settings. It combines an area-based approach, used to delineate and understand ‘community areas’, with Social Network Analysis Theory, applied to identify the most reliable ‘key informants’ for each area. This methodology is developed in close partnership with UNHCR and with the support of the U.S. Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Building on lessons learned from the first field pilot of this approach implemented in Mafraq, Jordan, between January and May 2017, the same approach is now being tested in the less urbanized displacement setting of the Diffa region, Niger.
Two key phases characterise the new Diffa pilot. In the first phase (September 2017), inhabitants of the town of Diffa were engaged in participatory mapping exercises to identify their ‘community areas.’ These are the areas of the town as they are experienced by Diffa’s inhabitants on an everyday basis. As such, community areas provide relevant starting points for context-sensitive needs assessments, while potentially serving as geographic units for area-based humanitarian responses. This marked the first time large parts of Diffa town were mapped. In addition, to collect information on the needs of communities, people who are particularly knowledgeable about the situation, also known as ‘key informants,’ were identified for each community area. Then, in order to identify the most central and reliable key informants, their social networks and mutual relationships were mapped drawing on insights from Social Network Analysis Theory.
The second phase (October-November 2017) aims to better understand the quality of information provided by key informants about their communities and test whether this quality is related to the position key informants have within their network. To do so, two types of data will be collected and compared. On the one hand, a statistically representative survey of 4,800 households will be carried out throughout the identified community areas, focusing on households’ displacement history and basic needs with regards to shelter; food security; health care; education; and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH). In parallel, between 50 and 100 key informants for each area will be interviewed about the same topics. By comparing the two types of data, the reliability of different key informants can be assessed and the underlying network patterns better understood.
The insights obtained in both pilots of Mafraq and Diffa (together with those of an upcoming third pilot) will be translated into a ready-to-use toolbox in 2018, aimed at facilitating area-based data collection among refugee and host communities in out-of-camp displacement contexts. Through this project, AGORA seeks to contribute to a continuously improving response to changing humanitarian needs in a variety of crisis settings.
Highlighting recent mixed migratio trends into and through Libya
Migration to Libya is not a recent phenomenon. An important country of transit and destination for refugees and migrants alike since the early 2000’s, Libya has since 2011 witnessed conflict and sharp regional divides over political and economic grounds. This overall complex and unstable environment has facilitated the recent exploding trends of irregular migration through Libya. With 90% of the over 180,000 arrivals in Italy in 2016 claiming to have passed through the country, Libya has become the main gateway to Europe. Important information gaps persist, however, on the irregular mixed migration flows into Libya, with a lack of understanding of the profiles, vulnerabilities and needs of refugees and migrants.
In this context, in support of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), IMPACT Initiatives and its partner Altai Consulting carried out a research on mixed migration trends and dynamics in Libya, analysing migration flows and routes to and within Libya, while focusing on the situation of refugee and migrant communities within the country. Primary data was collected between October and December 2016 in Libya as well as in neighbouring origin and destination countries, Algeria, Niger, Chad, and Italy.
The research highlighted that most refugees and migrants entering Libya irregularly arrive via three main routes: from East Africa, passing through Sudan; from West and Central Africa, through Niger; and to a lesser extent from West Africa, passing through Algeria. Registered trends, in particular, revealed the existence of two main types of journey to and through Libya, namely “organised” journeys provided by a transnational, structured smuggling network, and “step-by-step” journeys organised by migrants and refugees directly in a highly fragmented way. The first type of journey is mostly understaken from East Africa, costs up to 5,000 USD payed upfront, and usually does not take longer than two to three weeks. Conversely, the seond type of journey is mostly undertaken by West and Central Africans and it is highly fragmented, with refugees and migrants relying to different smugglers and stopping several times to work or receive money from relatives to fund the next steps of the journey. As a result, mixed migrants on the eastern route tend to travel faster than those on the western route, who may often take several months to reach the Libyan coast.
Vulnerabilities identified are associated with the type of journey undertaken. Flows from East Africa are at the mercy and under the constant control of structured smuggling networks, resulting to be at particular risk of trafficking and exploitation. In parallel, West and Central Africans are highly exposed to abuse and ill-treatment by smugglers and the local population throughout their journeys, and they tend to be younger and with fewer resources. Overall, people travelling to and through Libya along both the western or eastern routes face harsh environmental conditions, a lack of rule of law and prevalence of criminal networks, unsafe means of transportation and minimal to no access to food, water and medical support.
It is expected that the significant increase in the understanding of mixed migration routes to and through Libya brought by this study will support better humanitarian programming and policymaking around mixed migration, particularly in the highly complex area of the South of Libya. The study also allowed for the production of an online dashboard.
Access more detailed findings in the report Mixed Migration Trends in Libya: Changing Dynamics and Protection Challenges.
Using area-based approaches to support returns and recovery in Bangui, Central African Republic
Since 2013, a major crisis has shaken the Central African Republic, including its capital Bangui, with the onset of armed conflict, population displacement and inter-communal tensions. Combined with pre-existing vulnerabilities, this crisis has generated massive needs among the affected populations, relating to poverty and food insecurity, the widespread destruction of infrastructure and the extremely limited access to basic services. More than 900,000 people have been displaced internally or to neighbouring states. As of October 2016, 2.2 million people - almost half of the Central African population - were dependent on humanitarian aid and 18% of the population, about 385,000, was internally displaced.
With increased stability in Bangui, many IDPs are starting to return to their areas of origin within the city of Bangui, requiring reintegration and access to basic services and housing within Bangui. The municipality of Bangui has faced challenges in terms of resources and means to address and fully meet the needs of the population, and international humanitarian and development actors support the daily provision of certain basic services in the city's neighbourhoods. Within this framework, it is essential to establish strong synergies and partnerships between international and local actors, to enable sustainability of international aid and support the ownership and resources of local authorities and service providers.
In order to better understand the needs of the communities affected by the crisis and facilitate the return of displaced populations to their areas of origin, AGORA, IMPACT and ACTED newly launched initiative, facilitated an area-based assessment and coordination in the city of Bangui. In a first phase, AGORA conducted a multisectorial area-based assessment in the city of Bangui, focusing on the neighbourhoods of Fondo, Gbaya Ndombia I and II, Bloc Sara (Banga Sara I and II, as well as Poto Poto Souma) and Cité Boeing. Data was collected between 2 and 23 March 2017, through 146 interviews with local actors (52), representatives of displaced persons (13), and service providers (81), as well as through discussion groups with 32 groups of men and women, both displaced and returnees. This assessment identify the shelter, WASH and security as the top priorities for affected populations and as key conditions for return.
AGORA then facilitated Round tables with local and international stakeholders to develop neighbourhood-level response plans, with joint priorities and response actions. The response plans allow for a shared understanding among local and international actors of the needs of affected populations as well as of response capacities of local and international actors at the neighbourhood level.
AGORA worked closely with the Mayor of Bangui and OCHA to then establish a city-level coordination body, which is inclusive of local and international actors and of all sectors, to facilitate an operational coordination of all relevant actors working on the returns in Bangui. Chaired by the Mayor of Bangui, this coordination mechanism is currently enabling a more integrated and sustainable response in the city of Bangui, including through neighbourhood-level coordination bodies for the areas witnessing the biggest return.
This pilot area-based approach is part of a global AGORA program, funded by EU Humanitarian Aid, and aiming to test field-level practices to area-based coordination and response in urban contexts.
Read more in the AGORA Bangui Humanitarian Response Plan.
Understanding vulnerabilities and needs of refugees in out-of-camp settings: AGORA pilot in the city of Mafraq, Jordan
Recent displacement trends show that increasing numbers of displaced populations do not reside in camps or designated areas. Mingling with host communities, refugees tend to choose urban or semi-urban areas, where they feel safe and have higher chances to find support from their community and potential livelihood opportunities. While assessing the needs of refugee populations living in camps is relatively simple (population is within a given space, with similar living conditions, access to services, etc.), out-of-camp settings bring a new set of challenges for humanitarian actors, who need new tools to properly assess and understand local dynamics, vulnerabilities and capacities of displaced and host populations in such areas.
To respond to such challenges and enable aid actors to collect consistent and reliable information in out-of-camp refugee contexts and plan aid delivery accordingly, IMPACT and ACTED new joint initiative AGORA has initiated a programme to develop and field test a new methodological approach to data collection in such settings. Funded by the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM) and in close partnership with UNHCR, this programme will provide aid actors with a toolbox to (1) delineate and understand areas through an area-based approach and (2) identify the best sources of information, or ‘Key Informants,’ within each areas using the Social Network Analysis Theory.
A first pilot of this approach has been conducted between January and May 2017 in the city of Mafraq, Jordan, where more than half of the inhabitants have Syrian origins. Based on the hypothesis that areas relevant to the communities might be different from those delineated by administrative boundaries, a participatory mapping exercise was conducted with a network of Key Informants. Mapping meaningful community boundaries successfully led to 14 well-delineated community-areas, which resulted being very different from the administrative ones. This shows that how the city is structured from an administrative perspective does not reflect the actual structure and boundaries as perceived by its inhabitants.
As a second step, the Social Network Analysis (SNA) Theory was adopted to identify the best informed individuals, showing that, in some cases, the more socially interconnected individuals were indeed those more capable to provide accurate data on their area of knowledge. The SNA Theory also brought a new perspective on the informants’ profiles, revealing how key figures in the community such as imams or mukhtar (community leader), whom many organisations recognise as reliable sources of information, might be less well-informed than shop owners, teachers or reportedly unemployed individuals, who have excellent community connections and thus access to the most updated and accurate data. Findings of this pilot were shared and discussed at local level, with authorities and aid actors. The results were found very interesting and relevant for stakeholders, who recognised the applicability and pertinence of the methodology.
Lessons learned and best practices have been extracted from this first pilot and will be incorporated to improve the toolbox in the upcoming pilots, including in the Diffa region of Niger and in Kabul, Afghanistan. Once all the pilots will be completed in 2018, the refined toolbox will be disseminated among aid actors to allow for accurate understanding of and efficient humanitarian response planning in the increasingly populated out-of-camp settings.
Piloting Area-Based Assessment and Coordination for Integrated Urban Crisis Responses: Case Study from the City of Jeremie, Haiti
Responding to crises in urban settings has been one of the key emerging challenges for humanitarian actors over the past years. Cities are characterised by a unique complexity of service delivery systems and governance, by a high density and diversity of actors, challenging traditional ways in which humanitarian actors coordinate and respond to a crisis. Within this framework, IMPACT and its partners launched a series of pilots to operationalise settlement-based approaches to context understanding, coordination and response, with a first pilot in the hurricane-affected city of Jérémie, Haiti.
In the evening of October 3, 2016, the Southwestern tip of Haiti was hit by Hurricane Matthew, the most violent hurricane in the past 10 years. The city of Jérémie, capital of the southern department of Grand Anse, suffered extensive damage with most houses and infrastructures being damaged or destroyed. Before the natural disaster, Jérémie was the main urban and economic centre of the department, counting a total population of 7,500 households and hosting the main markets and businesses of the region.
To support an efficient and integrated humanitarian response in the city of Jérémie, IMPACT conducted an urban assessment in the most severely affected neighbourhoods between 1st November and 15 December 2016. Through key informant interviews and participatory mapping techniques, IMPACT delineated the neighbourhoods of Jérémie and assessed level of destruction, priority needs of affected population and resources available to meet such needs among local and external stakeholders. Key findings show that the vast majority of buildings and infrastructures suffered extensive damage, forcing households to seek refuge in collective centres. As the hurricane severely affected economic activities linked to fishing, breeding, and agriculture, most households lost their source of income and reported a serious lack of economic opportunities. In addition, great humanitarian concerns were identified in the lack of access to adequate shelter and basic services, including healthcare and education. A vast majority of households also reported a lack of construction material as one of the main obstacles to return, together with the absence of financial aid and temporary shelter.
These findings are being used by operational actors responding in the city of Jérémie, including local (Mayor, local civil society, service providers) and international (UNDP, UN-Habitat, OCHA and numerous INGOs) stakeholders, as a basis for the development of area-based and multi-sectorial neighbourhood recovery plans.
More detailed findings from IMPACT’s urban assessment in Jérémie are outlined in compiled Factsheets, released in February 2017, which can be accessed here.
This urban assessment of the city of Jérémie was conducted within the framework of the newly launched initiative AGORA, hosted by IMPACT and ACTED, in partnership with UCLG Task Force for Territorial Prevention and Management of Crises and Cités Unies France, and funded by DG ECHO and USAID, whose objective is to promote area-based humanitarian planning, coordination and response in urban crises.
IMPACT launches new programme to inform settlement-based approaches in out-of-camp refugee contexts
Over 60% of the world’s total number of refugees live in urban environments*. Despite the fact that a broad consensus has been established among humanitarian actors on the need to increase and improve support to out-of-camp refugees, the complex nature of refugee crises in out-of-camp environments calls today for a revised approach to humanitarian responses.
With support from BPRM, IMPACT is launching a new program in partnership with UNHCR to support the roll-out of settlement-approaches in out of camp refugee responses. The aim of this program is to provide practical tools and information to the humanitarian community on how to engage with and understand local actors and communities, supporting existing response capacity and coping mechanisms. Overall, this project hopes to support the aid system in shifting from sector-specific to multi-sectorial responses, by utilising settlement-based approaches, which will enable and empower local response capacity and recovery.
Through this two-year program, IMPACT will conduct three country-level deployments to pilot the roll-out of a settlement-approach toolbox, integrating lessons learned from these pilots and refining the tool-box and guidance which will then be available to all aid stakeholders. IMPACT will moreover provide training to humanitarian partners on the settlement-approach tool-box, in order to ensure that such approaches are mainstreamed when relevant in out-of-camp refugee responses. Two global-level conferences will be organized on this topic over the coming two years, regrouping humanitarian and development actors, as well as governance networks, to review the lessons learned and discuss the implications on how the humanitarian system coordinates responses in out-of-camp refugee settings.
By refining and rolling-out settlement-based approaches in partnership with UNHCR and other humanitarian partners, this program will provide a territorial framework upon which to identify needs, manage information, plan response and coordination among humanitarian actors and with target communities, thereby providing more efficient, locally integrated and sustainable humanitarian solutions for refugees living in out-of-camp contexts.
Developing a Frequent Monitoring Framework to track progress made by UN agencies’ programming in Jordan
Since the outbreak of the Syria crisis, Jordan has been seeking to accelerate the country’s development whilst mitigating the impact the crisis has had on the country. The United Nations Assistance Framework, UN(D)AF – which outlines six key outcomes and related targets for resilience programming in Jordan – serves as a common strategic framework that enables the UN system to provide a coherent response to nationally identified needs and priorities. In 2018, the UN(D)AF will be followed by a new 5-year programmatic framework.
Currently, the UN Country Team is working towards developing a Frequent Monitoring Framework (FMF) to have a robust Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) structure for the future UN(D)AF cycle. To this end, an M&E Task Force was established comprising UN Women, UNICEF, WFP, UNOPS, UNFPA and UNDP and chaired by the UN Resident/ Humanitarian Coordinator’s Office (UN RC/HC-O), with IMPACT’s support for the information management and development of the monitoring framework. The overall aim of the FMF is to establish a mechanism for frequent monitoring of UN agencies’ programming in Jordan which is needed to enable the analysis and use of timely information to trigger programmatic adjustments and address gaps in programme delivery.
To work towards the development of this FMF, UN RC/HC-O and IMPACT engaged with members of the M&E Task Force to identify indicators which can be monitored on a regular basis, are relevant to programming, and have accessible data sources. The selected indicators measure both outcomes (i.e. a broader measure of change brought about by a programme or activity) and outputs (i.e. programme-specific deliverables and activities). These indicators have been represented onto a pilot dashboard in a way that reflects the “theory of change” i.e. how the output/ outcome being discussed is relevant to and practically contributing towards the broader UNAF outcomes.
Overall, the FMF will accelerate the impact being made by the UN system and also contribute towards enhancing public accountability of the UN by showing joint results through an online dashboard system.
Perspectives from Cities in Crisis: launch of IMPACT and UCLG study at the World Humanitarian Summit
By 2050 over 70% of the global population will live in urban areas. This accelerating urbanization trend is accompanied by an increasing vulnerability of cities to both natural and man-made disasters. More and more, humanitarian actors are responding to urban crisis, but are however poorly equipped to understand and effectively engage with cities’ complex socio-economic dynamics and governance structures. Recognizing these challenges, the World Humanitarian Summit has mandated an Urban Expert Group to identify key recommendations for promoting better humanitarian response to urban crisis.
Within this framework, IMPACT and UCLG, with the support of City Mayors, have conducted a series of consultations in seven cities recently or currently affected by man-made or natural disasters. Targeted cities included: Bangui (Central African Republic), Mafraq (Jordan), Gaziantep (Turkey), Tacloban, Guiuan, Bogo (Philippines), and Port-au-Prince (Haiti).
Through these consultations IMPACT and UCLG aimed to improve people and organizations’ understanding of how emergency responses can be better tailored to the nature, scale and complexity of cities, and identify concrete ways in which local systems and actors can be best supported by the humanitarian community throughout a response.
The findings from the consultations will be presented by IMPACT, UCLG and the Mayors of Mafraq (Jordan), Bangui (Central African Republic) and Gaziantep (Turkey) during a dedicated Side Event at the World Humanitarian Summit on 23 of May 2016.
To read the full reports from the consultations as well as the overarching report follow the links:
- Overarching report: Perspectives from Cities in Crisis
- Port au Prince
IMPACT and UCLG consultations on “Cities in Crisis” in support of the World Humanitarian Summit Urban Agenda
As outlined in the Global Urban Crisis Charter there is a need to ‘foster collaboration between city, humanitarian and development actors’, to promote ‘area-based approaches’ in urban response and to ‘priorities local municipal leadership in determining response to urban crisis’. The Urban Expert Group’s proposition to establish a Global Alliance for Urban Crisis aims to generate policies and practices that will change the way urban crises are responded to.
Within this framework, and in preparation of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS), a series of consultations have been organized by IMPACT and United Cities and Local Governance (UCLG) to propose a set of recommendations on how to improve humanitarian responses to crisis in urban contexts. Targeted cities included: Bangui (Central African Republic), Mafraq (Jordan), Gaziantep (Turkey), Tacloban, Guiuan, Bogo (Philippines), and Port-au-Prince (Haiti).
Through these consultations IMPACT and UCLG aim to improve people and organizations’’ understanding of how emergency responses can be better tailored to the nature, scale and complexity of cities, and identify concrete ways in which local systems and actors can be best supported by the humanitarian community throughout a response. The findings from the consultations mentioned above will be presented by IMPACT, UCLG and the Mayors during a Side Event at the WHS in Istanbul.
Through this initiative, partners hope to strengthen of evidence-based humanitarian responses in urban contexts, foster a pro-active engagement of local actors, notably municipalities, and shape key global initiatives to operationalize the Urban Crisis agenda.
Image: IMPACT staff presenting at Mafraq Consultations
Jordan: Comprehensive reports analyze drivers of tensions and satisfaction with service delivery within host communities
At present, there are over 629,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan, a vast majority (85%) of whom live outside formal refugee camps, in host communities. This significant population shift has increased competition for employment and shelter in the host communities as well as highlighted the pressures put on Jordan’s already overburdened resources.
Between August and September 2014, REACH, with the support of the World Bank, the Department for International Development (DFID) and the Foreign Commonwealth Office (FCO), conducted a comprehensive assessment in Northern Jordan. The purpose of the assessment was to fill key information gaps regarding the drivers of tensions in Jordanian host communities as well as gaps regarding the access to and satisfaction with service provision in three Northern governorates of Jordan. The findings of this assessment resulted in two reports: one focused on the challenges to social cohesion and drivers of tensions within Jordanian host communities, the other focused on the level of access to and satisfaction with local services in the three Jordanian governorates of Irbid, Al Mafraq and Zarqa.
An assessment of the challenges to social cohesion within host communities revealed increased job competition and the rising cost of living as two primary causes of tension reported by both communities (Syrian and Jordanian). Findings also show increased competition for existing services and the discontent produced therein to be causes for increasing tensions in the communities. For example, an overwhelming majority (76%) of the households reported discontent with water shortages as a primary cause for tensions within host communities.
The second report focused on the level of access to and satisfaction with local service provisions. Through its assessment, the report also served as a baseline study for assessing the impact of the Jordan Emergency Services and Social Resilience Project (JESSRP) which aims to strengthen the capacity of municipalities by investing in social infrastructure and supporting tangible improvements at the municipal level. Results show overall dissatisfaction among communities over local service provision, with key challenges reportedly faced in waste management and public water services. 80% of households also reported not having access to a sewer system. In sum, these findings reveal the pressures faced by local service providers and the need for improved communication between them and their constituents.
Finally, findings of both these reports demonstrate the intense pressures faced by communities and municipalities in Jordan while hosting large numbers of Syrian refugees. By identifying the primary drivers of tension within host communities as well as the pressures put on municipal services in the three governorates, national and international aid actors can improve programming to build the resilience of communities as well as the capacities of municipalities to respond to the needs of their constituents. In the coming year, with support from the World Bank and DFID, REACH will continue to monitor and evaluate the impact of the JESSRP project on local municipalities and communities, based on the findings of this first baseline assessment. Likewise, REACH continues to focus on issues of social cohesion and resilience in Jordanian host communities.
For the complete Jordan Emergency Services and Social Resilience Project Baseline Study Report, read here.
For the complete Social Cohesion in Host Communities in Northern Jordan Report, read here.
Image: The local market in Mafraq town. Al Mafraq governorate hosts the largest number of Syrian refugees in Jordan.
Northern Mali: Limited access to water for affected communities in Kidal, Timbuktu and GaoFor the past several years, Mali has been facing multiple challenges related to chronic (poverty, lack of basic services) and cyclical factors (crop loss, conflict).
The political crisis in 2012 has particularly affected the North of the country, leading to insecurity, displacement of populations (86,000 persons are estimated to have fled due to conflict), the destruction of public infrastructures and private goods. Among other, water infrastructures have been severly damaged during this crisis and require imminent rehabilitation to ensure affected communities living in these areas or planning to return continue having access to safe and sufficient water.
To inform water infrastructure rehabilitation programs by international aid actors and municipalities, aiming to improve water standards for affected local and displaced communities, IMPACT partnered with UNICEF to analyse the situation of access to water for households living in the three northern cities of Kidal , Timbuktu and Gao.
The study was conducted between August and December 2014 and aimed at better understanding the vulnerabilities and needs related to access to water, in order to inform the identification of priority interventions. Thus, the assessment focused on establishing a socio-economic profile for each of the three cities, identifying different profiles of urban areas (richer and poorer neighbourhoods, etc.); estimating the capacity of the public network to meet the water needs of the population in these different urban areas; and examining the general characteristics of access to water in these three cities and the different profiles of users.
The assessment findings pointed out significant spatial and social differentiation of different population groups in the three assessed cities, highlighted by all indicators, including those related to access to water. Access to water remains below Sphere standards for at least half of the population, especially regarding the quantity of water that is being consumed, the time required to access the source, the long distances from water points and the quality of the water.
Read the full Report (in French): Accès à l’eau – Communes de Kidal, Tombouctou et Gao, Avril 2015