Philippines - JIPS - Joint IDP Profiling Service


The Philippines are facing both disaster- and conflict-induced displacements, with the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) registering among the highest numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs). In the BARMM provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (BASULTA), the majority of IDPs live in evacuation centers or with the host population (the so-called ‘home-based’) and only have limited access to basic services. Some are newly displaced, while others are in protracted situations. In Tawi-Tawi, in addition to the IDPs a number of people are also at risk of becoming stateless.

While UNHCR in collaboration with the government has been monitoring movements of displaced people in the Mindanao region since 2012, it has been challenging to collect data on the changing displacement situation in the BASULTA island provinces due to access issues. Thus, UNHCR Philippines together with the Ministry of the Interior Local Government (MILG), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and the Ministry of Social Services and Development (MSSD) decided in August 2019 to jointly conduct a profiling exercise, and asked JIPS for technical support throughout the process.

Project overview

Profiling the islands of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (2019 – 2021)

In July 2019, JIPS received a request for technical support to a profiling exercise to fill a critical data gap for a better understanding of the distinct displacement situations in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi (BASULTA). The exercise looked at  the living conditions of IDPs in terms of their humanitarian and long-term needs, and furthermore considered the situation of Sama Bajaus communities in Bongao, Tawi-Tawi island, who were at risk of statelessness.

In a 3-week mission in October 2019, JIPS organised stakeholder meetings, defined exercise objectives, and established a collaborative structure (see below). Working with technical experts and local partners, we identified analysis priorities, designed the sampling approach and questionnaire, and assisted in enumerator training. Data collection occurred in November 2019 by the Integrated Resource Development for Tri-People (IRDT), with UNHCR handling data cleaning with JIPS support from December 2019 to January 2020. We conducted a preliminary analysis and virtual workshops due to COVID-19, aiding in-country partners in joint analysis implementation, community engagement, and involving local actors from three islands.

From January to May 2023, JIPS commissioned an independent evaluation of the profiling exercise. Conducted just over a year post-completion, the evaluation assessed the process, structures, and immediate impact. The profiling results guided prompt and lasting responses, reduced protection risks, and heightened awareness of displacement impact. Timely amid the BARMM political transition, the exercise enabled the Bangsamoro Transition Authority (BTA) to develop crucial knowledge and capacities for enhanced response to internal displacement in the region.

Key outputs include:

  • The profiling reports, which focused on internally displaced persons on the one hand, and the Sama Bajaus – a population group at risk of statelessness – on the other
  • A series of virtual events with province-level authorities in July 2021 and with actors at the BARMM level in August 2021 – a summary of the discussion can be found in the annex to the profiling report
  • A global virtual event, co-organised by JIPS and UNHCR Philippines on 26th January 2022
  • An advocacy brief outlining key findings and recommendations from the evaluation of the profiling exercise conducted between January and May 2023

Exercise partners

The collaborative process was led by UNHCR Philippines in coordination with the Ministry of Social Services (MSS), the Ministry of the Interior Local Government (MILG), and the provincial governments of Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi. We also worked with the team at Integrated Resource Development for Tri-People (IRDT) to map the population groups and carry out the household data collection.


Direct use of the information generated for concrete actions to address internal displacement and statelessness

The virtual launch events highlighted that several findings and recommendations from the profiling reports had already been met with concrete action by the provincial and municipal government actors. The value of the collaborative process that underpinned the exercise was highlighted across the board as being critical, not only for the positive uptake of the results but also for the longer-term collaboration and commitment of BARMM and province-level authorities to the cause of IDPs and the Sama Bajaus.

The independent evaluation of the exercise further found, among others, that:

  • Data-driven policymaking enabled the passing of the Patikul Protection of IDPs Ordinance.
  • The birth registration program emerged as a pivotal action based on profiling recommendations.
  • Profiling unveiled a larger IDP population than anticipated, identifying under-supported home-based IDPs.
  • Strengthened collaborative efforts were recognized among organizations participating in the profiling.
  • IDPs showcased renewed confidence in articulating their protection requirements.
  • Affected communities spotlighted timely disaster responses as the most significant change post-profiling.

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