Syria - JIPS - Joint IDP Profiling Service


The Syrian conflict, now in its eighth year, has had a devastating impact on the country’s population and infrastructure. Although accurate data are difficult to the get, it is estimated that over 5.6 million people have fled the country, while inside Syria over 6 million people have been displaced and over 13 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance.

The displacement crisis in Syria is largely urban: the vast majority of IDPs live in host communities in the country’s towns and cities, many of which have suffered widespread damage. Displacement patterns are complex, with large-scale movements taking place within as well as between urban areas.

Our support for the humanitarian response in the country began in 2015, when OCHA on behalf of the Whole of Syria Cluster Coordination System, the Syria Information Management and Assessment Working Group asked us to be part of the coordination unit of the Whole of Syria Assessment (WoSA), whose work was central to the development of the 2016 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO).

As a follow-up based on a new request received in late 2015, we also carried out several missions to support the collection and analysis of data on urban populations to provide an evidence base for the 2017 HNO. Currently we are working as part of the Urban Analysis Network Syria (UrbAN-S) to gather the holistic information and analysis needed for better planning, targeting and monitoring of interventions in the country’s towns and cities.

Project overview

Urban Analysis Network Syria (UrbAN-S) project (2018 – on going)
In line with our strategic goals of developing methods for urban profiling, in the past year we have been working with partners on the Urban Analysis Network Syria (UrbAN-S) project, which looks to provide up-to-date and holistic analyses of critically-affected cities in Syria. The two-year project, which is funded by the EU, aims to ensure that Syria’s urban realities and particularities are properly analysed to inform interventions by humanitarian, early recovery and development stakeholders, including local authorities, UN agencies and international NGOs.

The consortium brings together complementary areas of expertise and capacities, and includes iMMAP, Mercy Corps’ Humanitarian Action Team (HAT), the European Commission Joint Research Centre (JRC) and JIPS in an advisory/technical support capacity. Other organisations, such as the Common Space Initiative, and various operational partners are also be engaged at different stages of the process.

At the core of the Urban-S is a holistic, area-based approach, aimed to provide data useful to both humanitarian and development initiatives thereby strengthening the links between them. The analytical framework developed through the project incorporates information to identify the extent and ways in which a crisis-impacted city is functioning to meet the needs of its populations, including to support internally displaced populations towards achieving durable solutions, and to assess the effect of conflict on peace-building and stabilisation in cities. The expected direct impact is being able to provide operational actors with the required tools, approaches and expertise to inform and improve planning and response in Syrian cities.

A set of tools are being developed that will be accessible and ready to use by a broad range of stakeholders and decision-makers working in Syria’s urban areas. We also bring the lessons learned from the project to the global level, working closely with and influencing global platforms such as the Global Alliance for Urban Crises and Grand Bargain needs assessment work stream. It also draws on specific thematic expertise such as the Global Protection Cluster’s housing, land and property (HLP) area of responsibility, and the Population Monitoring Initiative for the durable solutions working group of the cross-border Syria operation.

Project process & JIPS’ support

As part of the collaborative development of the urban profiling methodology, we have organised and facilitated several methodology workshops in Amman, Beirut and Geneva, involving all project partners and others such as Common Space Initiatives and the World Bank. The workshops have focused on:

  • Identifying information needs of different types of operational partners on the ground,
  • Refining and endorsing the Analytical Framework for Urban Recovery, and
  • Developing a preliminary list of indicators drawing on the World Bank’s Damage Needs Assessments, the Durable Solutions Indicator Library, the SDGs, the HAT conflict analysis approach in urban areas, UN-Habitat City Prosperity Index and the Urban Governance Index.

Based on learning from this process we will work to consolidate an Urban Profiling Toolkit, which will bring together various methodologies required for a holistic and area-based analysis of a city’s functionality and create the basis for joint analyses at city-level.

Impact & lessons learned

UrbAN-S will develop a number of products that are aimed at informing joint humanitarian-development responses in Syria:

  • City profiles provide an integrated snapshot of the current physical and social conditions of the city in the aftermath of the conflict. They include an overview of the displacement, conflict and stakeholder dynamics, the identification of gaps between population needs and the services that the city is able to provide, and an analysis of the urban governance and policy environment.
  • Damage assessments use remote-sensing information based on satellite imagery to establish a rapid overview of the damage caused before assessing its implications for the provision of services.
  • An urban information web portal will be created to store the information collected in an interactive repository.

The UrbAN-S partners will also invest in capacity building of operational partners coordinating data collection exercises to improve their technical and analytical capabilities and facilitate joint analysis workshops. The capacity-building initiatives will be open to a broad range of stakeholders interested in improving their understanding of analysis in urban settings, and those planning or undertaking city profiles and damage assessments.

Project overview

Informing the 2017 Humanitarian Needs Overview (2016)
Building on our contributions in 2015 to Whole of Syria Assessment, which informed the 2016 HNO, we returned to Syria in 2016 for a similar undertaking. We supported partners in developing an evidence base for the 2017 HNO, and in providing data for the analysis of urban populations, infrastructure and services. One of the main objectives was to put the urban element at the centre of planning for responses.

JIPS' support

JIPS conducted several missions to the region to support the development of methodologies and tools, hold consultation meetings and train operational partners.

Impact & lessons learned

Local partners collected data on urban areas and populations throughout Syria in July and August, and shared their information with all relevant sectors and stakeholders in advance of the 2017 HNO analysis. The data collected was also used to inform the next Syria Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP).

Project overview

Supporting the Whole of Syria Assessment (2015)
The Whole of Syria Assessment (WoSA) was a multi-hub and multi-partner strategic and complementary needs and gaps assessment at the sub-district level that provided valuable information for the 2016 HNO.

WoSA aimed to provide consolidated information about people in need and establish the extent of their needs across geographical locations for all sectors. It also complemented existing sector information in terms of required indicators and geographical coverage. The assessment used a mixed data collection methodology, including secondary data review and primary data collection through key informant interviews and focus group discussions.

JIPS’ support

JIPS’ support was shaped through a mission to Gaziantep in Turkey and Amman in Jordan in August and September 2015. We worked:

  • Alongside OCHA for the data cleaning and analysis phase of WoSA’s key informant survey, and
  • With UNHCR-led sectors on shelter and non-food items, CCCM and protection in the analysis of WoSA’s sectoral data and the validation of findings.

We also provided support in calculating sectoral people in need (PIN) figures and prioritising needs at the sub-district level through severity scales.

As a member of WoSA’s coordination unit, we consulted widely with all sectors in the planning phase including protection, gender and urban stakeholders, mainstreaming the three dimensions into the key informant questionnaire.

Toward the end of the mission we took part in an HNO workshop in which we supported the drafting of the first HNO sector paper, and the finalising of the protection severity ranking and HNO presentation. We also participated in brainstorming sessions to inform the HNO’s inter-sectoral chapters.

Impact & lessons learned

No final WoSA report was compiled, but its analysis and findings informed the HNO in preparation for the 2016 Humanitarian Response Plan and Strategic Response Plan for Syria.

The Protection Needs Overview, also produced based on the data from the WoSA, provided overall analysis of people’s protection risks, coping strategies, exposure to gender-based violence, restrictions on movement and access to services at the national, governorate and sub-district level.

Sign up to our newsletter

Email Format

JIPS – Joint IDP Profiling Service will use the information you provide on this form to send you email updates (usually once a month) about our activities.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect and will never share it with, or sell it to, others. By clicking 'SUBSCRIBE', you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking 'SUBSCRIBE' to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Get updates
Receive news about profiling practice and improving displacement data, right in your inbox.