How data will help bend the curve on internal displacement

Posted June 24, 2022
UNDP Ukraine digital services

In Ukraine, UNDP is working with the government in creating a new public online service which allows for easier access to monthly support for the displaced and their families.

UNDP Ukraine

The launch of the UN Secretary-General’s Action Agenda on Internal Displacement is an important moment to discuss how data collection, analysis and evidence can be used to improve solutions and, importantly, to bend the curve on the global displacement crisis.

We are all aware of the context in which we are operating. Many countries remain plunged in war, on the edge of famine, and continue to be plagued by the COVID-19 pandemic. All of these serious threaten global progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In 2022, up to 323 million people could face acute hunger. In the Sahel, the number of people on the brink of starvation has skyrocketed tenfold in the past three years. While we are learning to live with COVID-19, the trauma of the unexpected loss of millions of lives remains, as do the consequences of devastated economies. We have never been more off-track towards achieving the SDGs than we are today.

Until everyone benefits from development and from the wider freedoms and human security that it brings, human progress will remain unstable and incomplete. With deteriorating conditions for development, peace and security, the internal displacement crisis continues to increase. Over 59 million people were displaced in their own countries at the end of 2021, resulting in an economic cost of over US$21 billion in 2021 alone. And these sobering figures do not include the impact of the war in Ukraine, where some 7.1 million people internally displaced. It is already the world’s largest internal displacement, and the war is precipitating an unprecedented global food, energy and finance crisis.

No country can afford to walk away from the SDGs. We cannot pause development in crisis, because development is an essential condition for emerging from crisis in any sustainable way.

This very much aligns with the findings of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel (HLP) on Internal Displacement which calls for a fundamental change. We increasingly need a development-oriented approaches with stronger emphasis on nationally-owned action, in recognition that internally displaced persons are citizens of their own country and deserve their full rights. Addressing internal displacement is also fundamental to Agenda 2030’s promise of leaving no one behind, because the displaced are most at risk.

More and better data and analytics are necessary. This starts with forging a better collective intelligence and understanding of what it takes to resolve internal displacement through nationally-owned solutions that contribute to restoring the social contract between citizens and their state, reducing inequalities and gender-based discrimination, and reducing the risk of future displacements.

UNDP’s commitment is to work in the most affected countries to create developmental pathways for displaced populations and the communities that host them, and doing so with humanitarian, development, and peace partners.

Our strategy has four interconnected priorities.

The first requires investing in robust data, analytics, and evidence to contribute to the global body of knowledge to help national governments design, measure, implement and invest in an evidence-based manner for best possible solutions. Working with data partners such as the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) are key. Last year, UNDP and the HLP Secretariat commissioned a report on the political economy of development solutions. Based on case studies in Bangladesh, El Salvador, Iraq and Sudan, the report found that understanding the political economy of solutions is essential as it forms the basis for leveraging the political will necessary for promoting the restoration displaced peoples’ rights.

The second priority is to scale up innovative, nationally owned development and gender-responsive programming.

In Iraq, UNDP's stabilization support to the government, together with partners has enabled 4.6 million Iraqis to return to their areas of origin. In Somalia, the government’s National Development Plan 2020-2024, aligned to the SDGs, is based on a poverty analysis that shows that displaced people have the highest rates of multi-dimensional poverty. In Ukraine, UNDP supported the Ministry of Digital Transformation and Ministry of Social Policy in creating a new public online service for registration which allows for easier access to monthly support for the displaced and their families.

The third priority requires support to our Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators, broadening our partnerships with sister UN Agencies, national and international NGOs, and supporting platforms for national and local governments to exchange best practices. We will continue this work with the incoming Special Adviser on Solutions to Internal Displacement and as a member of the steering group taking forward the UN Secretary-General’s Action Agenda.

The fourth priority aims at seeking ways to support countries in accessing development financing for internal displacement in the medium and longer term. This requires engaging a wider set of financing stakeholders, including the private sector, development banks, and international institutions.

The UN Secretary-General’s Action Agenda states that “more of the same is not good enough”. As a long-standing Executive Committee Member of JIPS, UNDP highly values its collaborative displacement  profiling services and see them as essential to enable nationally owned evidence on internal displacement. More importantly, improved profiling data and analysis will help shape policies and programming in order to better deliver on solutions to internal displacement.

Towards this end, UNDP is deepening our partnership with JIPS and other key institutions to build profiling data, analysis and evidence, especially disaggregated by age, gender and diversity. Such partnerships will contribute to improving the applicability of data to national and local solutions strategies, policies and programmes, and assessing their impact on improving lives and livelihoods. And ultimately, towards bending the curve on global internal displacement.