A Collaborative Approach to Durable Solutions Data in Ethiopia - JIPS - Joint IDP Profiling Service

A Collaborative Approach to Durable Solutions Data in Ethiopia

Related Topics: Durable solutions

Ethiopia has faced significant displacement challenges for decades, stemming from a variety of factors including conflict, inter-communal violence, natural hazards, and the impacts of climate change. Displacement is widespread affecting diverse regions in the country; in recent years particularly the Northern region has seen a significant increase in the number of internally displaced persons (IDPs), namely due to violence. Returns can also be observed, for instance in the Somali region and more recently, following the signing of a Peace Agreement in Nairobi in November 2022, in parts of Amhara, Afar and Tigray.

Both the Government and humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding (HDP) actors in Ethiopia have been working to address displacement-related challenges. At the federal level, a Durable Solutions Initiative, based on the IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for IDPs, serves as the primary operational reference. National Durable Solutions Working Groups (DSWG) offer coordination platforms at the national and regional levels, and a Durable Solutions Advisor supports the Resident Coordinator’s Office to advance and align efforts on solutions. Ethiopia also features among the priority countries for efforts under the UN Secretary-General’s Office of the Special Adviser on Solutions to Internal Displacement (OSA), to support solutions strategies and enhanced data systems..

Against this background, and in the wake of a country visit by the OSAin January, UNDP and UNHCR requested a JIPS scoping mission in March 2023. The mission aimed to foster a common understanding of the potential opportunities and challenges related to durable solutions and displacement data in Ethiopia, building on an initial mapping of available IDP data sources conducted by JIPS prior to the trip.

As per partner request, the mission and related mapping focused primarily on Tigray. Nonetheless, national-level consultations also sought possible avenues for engagement in other Northern regions, including Amhara and Afar, and the Somali region.

During the mission, JIPS consulted with multiple stakeholders ranging from government entities (national and subnational levels) to UN agencies, national/international NGOs, and other actors. The insights from these conversations were consolidated into 6 key findings and 5 recommendations that will shape the outcomes and directions for further engagement. While primarily focused on Tigray, these pointers also hold relevance for other regions in Ethiopia, such as the national level and the Somali region, as confirmed by stakeholders during a virtual JIPS debriefing meeting in May.

Key Findings  At a Glance

Data fragmentation and lack of accessibility:
A noticeable lack of publicly available data on IDPs and durable solutions emerged as a significant concern. Various humanitarian and development actors in Tigray primarily rely on their operational data, which isn’t made public due to lengthy government endorsement procedures. The need for a unified and better coordinated approach to data was emphasised.

Unclear IDP population estimates:
There was a consensus that the currently available data also didn’t provide reliable estimates on the IDPs population in Tigray. This data gap hinders effective programming and targeting of aid efforts as well as a transition to longer-term solutions.

Short-, medium-, and long-term obstacles:
The need to better understand the obstacles to durable solutions for IDPs was highlighted. This understanding is vital to enable adequate responses that consider the specific needs and perspectives of  displaced as well as the issues that are shared with other displacement-affected populations, thus bridging the humanitarian, development, and peace (HDP) nexus.

Need for enhanced coordination:
While there are existing solutions-oriented coordination structures in Tigray, these could benefit from a stronger coordination capacity focused specifically on displacement data. Improved coordination would prevent duplicate efforts and allow for more cohesive responses towards durable solutions.

Limited joint prioritisation of geographic areas:
The consultations revealed a lack of agreement and coordination on which geographic areas to prioritise for interventions to respond to internal displacement, leading to agencies following individual approaches. This area could benefit from a joint approach based on the conduciveness to Solutions.

Government involvement:
There is a need to strengthen the regional government’s involvement in Durable Solutions structures and activities. While the Tigray Statistics Authority has established an elaborate system to collect biometric data for IDPs, increased collaboration with the government is key.

Observations on the data landscape in Ethiopia 

Based on the initial data landscape mapping ahead of the mission, the JIPS team identified a scarcity of publicly accessible IDP data, particularly for the Northern region. As we observed during the mission, part of this issue – especially in regions such as Tigray – arises from the restricted access to certain areas due to fluctuating security conditions. However, the often more important challenge stems from arduous and time-consuming governmental approval processes. Prolonged approval procedures discourage stakeholders from attempting to publicise data, or result in data becoming outdated by the time it gets approved.

Consequently, most of the IDP-related data consists of operational data, collected in silos by organisations for the sole purpose of guiding their specific programs. In Tigray, in particular, there is a notable absence of reliable, comprehensive, and mutually agreed-upon population estimates, as recognized by all partners. This issue significantly hinders better targeted programming. The primary data source commonly referred to by actors in Tigray is IOM’s Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM). The Tigray Statistics Authority also maintains a registration system that counts over one million IDPs and thus provides IDP population estimates . However, data is only available up until August 2021 due to the resurgence of conflict in August 2022. Given the dearth of population estimates, many stakeholders in Tigray reported obtaining estimates from local authorities to guide their programming.

Consequently, there is no collective understanding of internal displacement including IDP figures. There is also no coordinated approach to identifying and responding to additional data and information needs. The importance for more harmonised data efforts among HDP actors is recognized by many.

Moreover, a quick assessment of existing sources revealed a gap in dedicated durable solutions analysis focusing on key obstacles faced by IDPs when seeking solutions. Similarly, we also observed an absence of a common definition of ‘durable solutions’ and agreed-upon key indicators to measure progress towards solutions in Tigray and Ethiopia more broadly. The fragmentation of existing data and analysis relevant to durable solutions, coupled with the lack of dedicated solutions analysis, further obstructs a comprehensive and coordinated solutions process.

Collaborative HDP efforts towards coordinated solutions to displacement at the national and regional level

Different HDP actors have varying data requirements, which makes it complex to bridge data needs. Humanitarian actors require fast data for immediate assistance, whereas development actors call for more comprehensive data on systems and population groups  that can inform medium and longer-term development planning. These diverse needs must be considered in data responses to facilitate a coordinated and dynamic data process. This process should adopt a phased approach and alignment so that future data processes can build upon previously conducted, quicker assessments.

In Tigray, the JIPS team discovered several coordination mechanisms, including the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group, specific cluster working groups, and a regional Durable Solutions Working Group (DSWG) with a detailed Terms of Reference (ToR) and an already implemented work plan. However, it wasn’t clear how these different coordination mechanisms communicate and align their efforts concerning internal displacement. The coordination between the DSWG and various clusters is crucial, as durable solutions criteria span multiple sectors (including protection, water, shelter, health, education, etc.). Robust coordination can also prevent duplication of efforts and enable critical regional-national and inter-regional coordination to facilitate knowledge exchange and learning.

An HDP approach to solutions should emphasise strengthening of the role of the Government, at a minimum by ensuring they are informed and engaged in the data process. (I)NGOs and civil society actors also expressed a desire for greater involvement in the response to durable solutions, importantly through active inclusion in coordination structures to foster a joint approach. Their presence and local expertise can enhance durable solutions-oriented responses.

Way Forward

JIPS consolidated its analysis, key observations and recommendations into a mission report that was presented and validated by in-country partners following the mission. At the request of UNDP and UNHCR, who together hosted the JIPS mission in Ethiopia, JIPS also provided a detailed description of what their support in Ethiopia could entail.

In mid-May, JIPS presented their findings, recommendations, and potential ways they could offer support to a range of local, regional, and global stakeholders during a virtual debrief. This was done to raise awareness and inform potential requests for JIPS’ assistance.

To enhance capacities for participating in and leading collaborative data processes, JIPS welcomed 22 participants from Ethiopia to join the 2023 Collaborative Leadership Programme. Government officials, UN agency representatives, and members of civil society gained foundational knowledge on transforming displacement data into actionable initiatives.

The Tigray-focused mission provided insights applicable to other regions. JIPS is prepared for assistance at both national and regional levels, focusing on enhancing coordination, facilitating agreement on common indicators for progress measurement, and contributing to strengthened data and analysis capacities for solutions.

Moving forward, JIPS remains available to address requests from actors across Ethiopia to implement some of the recommendations resulting from the scoping mission. The feedback from the virtual debrief indicated that these recommendations are seen as timely, significant, and relevant across Ethiopia.

Interested in the full mission report? Contact us at info@jips.org


Need tools to implement your own durable solutions analysis or profiling process? Check out the Interagency Durable Solutions Indicator Library and JIPS Essential Toolkit (JET) websites.

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