Central African Republic - JIPS - Joint IDP Profiling Service

Central African Republic

The Central African Republic (CAR) lies at the heart of one of the world’s most volatile regions, characterised by inter-related armed conflicts, high levels of insecurity and forced displacement within and across borders. The country itself has also suffered decades of conflict, crisis, instability and stalled development. In order to help establish an evidence base on the displacement situation in different regions of CAR, JIPS was requested to support three profiling exercises, including:

  • Bamingui-Bangoran prefecture in 2011
  • Markounda and Kabo in 2012

In 2015, we were also invited to Bangui to help plan an exercise in the capital focused on IDPs and returnees to the capital. However, due to deteriorating security at the time, plans did not go ahead.

Project overview

Profiling IDPs and returnees in Bangui 2015
Conflict sparked in 2012 when Séléka, a coalition of rebel groups, accused the government of reneging on an earlier peace agreement. It was only two years later that relative stability returned to Bangui, leading to a steady drop in the number of IDPs and an increase in the number of returns. Many of them took place between the city’s different districts and neighbourhoods.

The Global Protection Cluster and its partners in CAR asked us in May 2015 to support a profiling exercise to analyse the situation of Bangui’s IDPs and returnees. The request was endorsed by other clusters and several organisations including the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP).

The aim was to establish an evidence base to inform a government-led durable solutions strategy and the longer-term responses of the humanitarian and development communities.

Profiling process & JIPS' support

We undertook a scoping mission to CAR in September 2015 to support the initial phases of the exercise. This focused primarily on launching the profiling process, shaping the coordination platform, defining objectives and outlining technical parameters for the methodology development to follow.

We also deployed a technical profiling coordinator to Bangui, but towards the end of 2015 the security situation in the capital and the country as a whole began to deteriorate again. Given the new displacement dynamics and need to refocus efforts on urgent humanitarian needs, the durable solutions profiling exercise was put on hold.

Project overview

Profiling the displacement situation in inaccessible communities in Markounda & Kabo (2012)
Following 20 years of internal conflict and upheaval, the security situation in CAR improved sufficiently in the late 2000s for many IDPs and refugees who had fled to Chad, who began to return. Little, however, was known about these dynamics. A series of profiling exercises, launched in 2011, aimed to learn more about the displacement situation in previously inaccessible communities.

The exercises in Markounda and Kabo built on the previous profiling process implemented in Bamingui-Bangoran. They brought humanitarian and development stakeholders together to collaborate in establishing a shared understanding of the situation.

Profiling process & JIPS' support

Our support for the processes in Markounda and Kabo focused on the technical integrity of the exercises, which were led by UNHCR, the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and the National Census Bureau with implementation conducted by Echelle, the same local NGO that carried out the original exercise in Bamingui-Bangoran.

Our input centred on a four-day workshop attended by members of Echelle, DRC and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), which helped to plan both the Markounda and Kabo exercises and adapt the methodology and tools used in Bamingui-Bangoran. It also encouraged inter-agency collaboration and strengthened local capacity to undertake future profiling exercises in CAR.

More specifically, the workshop covered:

  • A systematic review of the lessons learned in Bamingui-Bangoran
  • Development of the methodology, questionnaires and operational plan for Markounda and Kabo
  • Training to prepare for the data collection phase of the exercise
  • A tabulation plan for the quantitative questionnaires and an analysis plan for the qualitative data
  • A reporting plan

Impact & lessons learned

The profiling exercises had a number of significant impacts, most importantly the results from the Kabo exercise were used in the data section of the 2013 Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP). They also prompted the establishment of a coordination mechanism to respond more effectively to the protection and other challenges that returnees faced in Markounda and Kabo.

They also informed the development of a more comprehensive protection strategy with the ultimate aim of identifying durable solutions, and provided IDPs, returnees and host community members with an evidence base for their advocacy. Other impacts of the profiling exercise included:

  • The findings led humanitarian donor agencies such as the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) to recategorise Markounda as requiring ongoing monitoring, surveillance and response. In Kabo, the profiling results prompted ECHO to undertake an evaluation of the water and sanitation situation.
  • The exercise helped to consolidate local capacity for profiling, with Echelle taking on an ever more prominent role in designing and adapting the survey, methodology and tools, and in sampling and canvassing. Following stakeholders’ interest in additional information on social cohesion and psychosocial status, a module was added to the questionnaire to capture information that would provided such insight.
  • The findings led stakeholders to expand their concept of displacement in CAR to include populations such as refugee returnees, rather than simply considering them IDPs.
  • They also highlighted the importance of resettlement programming taking into account the preparedness of return areas to absorb large influxes of people.

The exercise also yielded a number of lessons learned:

  • Profiling exercises should be tailored to the context in question, but this does not mean that each one needs to reinvent the wheel. The original methodology and tools used in Bambingui-Bangoran were successfully adapted for use in both Kabo and Markounda.
  • It reiterated the importance of profiling a displacement situation as a whole, rather than a single group of people. A methodology that considers all population groups and the different impacts of displacement upon them paints a more comprehensive picture as the basis for targeted advocacy and response.
  • It is important for profiling managers to be flexible in their research and operational planning, so they are able to adapt to unexpected developments. The researchers in Markounda were not expecting to encounter such high number of refugee returnees, but they were able to alter their approach to capture information effectively.
  • Bringing in specialised organisations during the data analysis and reporting phases can be hugely beneficial. Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF-Holland) took part in these stages of the exercise and subsequently used the findings to provide targeted services. Echelle also received valuable insight on health issues. Similarly, the exercises demonstrated the benefits of thorough capacity-building initiatives. The expertise Echelle has built up has helped it to establish itself as a displacement profiling resource for the humanitarian and development community in CAR.
  • All three exercises highlighted the importance of informing and sensitising local and national authorities, community leaders and survey staff. Echelle’s profiling project manager in Markounda, Crepin Konzabi, said: “We realise that you can’t underestimate the importance of communicating your survey objectives to the authorities. It can make or break the process.”

Project overview

Profiling the displacement situation in inaccessible communities in Bamingui-Bangoran (2011)
The profiling exercise in Bamingui-Bangoran, initiated in 2011, was the first of a series of three profiling exercises (followed by exercises in Markounda and Kabo in 2012) to help better understand the displacement situation in previously inaccessible communities.

Profiling process & JIPS' support

We supported the profiling partners in developing their methodology and tools, facilitated an advocacy workshop for cluster leads and trained staff of local NGO Echelle. We also helped to establish a data management system, and to finalise the data analysis and disseminating reports.

Our training for Echelle took place over five days in Bangui, and involved 25 supervisors, enumerators and focus group discussion facilitators. More people than were required for the initial exercise were trained, which established a pool of expertise for future exercises. The participants were trained in all practical aspects of profiling, including methodology, enumeration, data collection tools, and roles and responsibilities. A full day of fieldwork was also included.

Impact & lessons learned

The profiling exercise had a number of tangible impacts:

  • It provided impetus to improve humanitarian access in Bambingui-Bangoran, despite security challenges in some areas.
  • By involving enumerators and implementors right from the start, the process encouraged further collaboration with Echelle. As DRC’s Lukas Rüst put it: “Echelle made the profiling happen. Not only was their capacity enhanced, their credibility also increased.”
  • The findings highlighted the need for joint humanitarian and development interventions, given the similar challenges facing both displaced and host communities.
  • They also helped humanitarian partners to understand the vital importance of increasing the provision of basic services to the populations of concern.

It also yielded a number of lessons learned:

  • Profiling should consider both IDPs and non-IDPs to paint a more comprehensive picture of the overall displacement situation.
  • Working with Echelle demonstrated the importance of building the profiling capacity of local organisations.
  • Information campaigns are a vital element of profiling exercises, because they encourage participation in the process and raise awareness of the displacement situation more broadly.

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