In recent time, we have seen many actors scaling up their engagement on durable solutions in contexts of displacement. However, analysing and measuring progress towards durable solutions is often a complex undertaking and methodologically challenging. One approach that is increasingly being explored in this context, are composite measures.
In which ways can composite measures help us advance the analysis of durable solutions for internally displaced? When are such indexes particularly useful for decision making and planning? And what are some of the methodological challenges and lessons from developing such composite measures for the analysis of durable solutions?
These and other questions were at the heart of our second webinar on “Composite measures for analysing durable solutions: practitioners’ reflections from global and field levels”. We had a great panel with Aldo Benini setting the scene; Vibeke Oestreich Nielsen introducing the International Recommendations on IDP Statistics  and specifically its composite measure designed for statistical purposes of determining whether IDPs have overcome key displacement-related vulnerabilities; and Santiago Córdova presenting the Local Re-Integration Index  as a contextual approach to measuring integration for programmatic purposes.
Watch the full recording here:
Aldo Benini, a statistically interested sociologist with a humanitarian background, introduced us to the topic. Building on his extensive experience working on compound measures for the Global Landmine Survey, the ICRC, ACAPS and the Joint Intersectoral Analysis Group (JIAG), Aldo highlighted benefits as well as persistent challenges and risks linked to compound measures.
For him, we should reformulate our aspiration for the use of compound measures in a more modest and humble way: “I believe [composite measures] should be used essentially to reduce the uncertainty that decision makers face in evaluating options. [… However,] we should [use] them in a way that safeguards the legitimate autonomy of decision makers. […] Action priorities are decided from insights that are strengthened by, but always wider than our indicators, formulas, our compound measures. But for that very reason – not despite, but for that very reason – we strive to improve our quantitative constructs, and we want to use them with humility.”
Vibeke Oestreich Nielsen, interregional advisor on statistical training at the UN Statistical Division (UNSD), spoke next to present a composite measure developed at the global level, as part of the International Recommendations on IDP Statistics (IRIS) endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission earlier this year. She explained that traditionally, IDPs would be taken out of the statistical stock upon their return, without consideration of whether they still have displacement-related vulnerabilities.
The new composite measure proposed in the IRIS, suggests a significant shift in statistical practice by offering a more nuanced approach: “we are basically shifting the stock measurement from taking out those who return to actually assessing IDPs in all locations [Ed. Locations of displacement, locations of return, and other settlement locations] on whether they have overcome key displacement-related vulnerabilities or not.”
Although the International Recommendations are tailored for statistical purposes at the national level, many of the reflections that went into these, are also relevant at the local level for durable analysis practitioners. For instance, against which population groups should the IDP populations be compared in order to measure progress towards solutions, or when is it more useful to measure progress and when to apply a pass/no-pass approach?
Our third speaker, Santiago Córdova, economist and CEO and Partner of Equality and Development Consultants currently operating in Ecuador and Paraguay, presented the work on a local-level composite measure: the Local Re-Integration Index (LORI). Applied to all population groups in the study – IDPs, refugee returnees and host community – the index aims to inform programming prioritisation based on a scoring by topic and overall, as well as to measure progress towards local integration over time.
When asked whether we can measure the end of displacement based on personal perception, Santiago explains: “The [LORI index] attempts to create a link between subjective and objective criteria. We try to understand what variables create this perception [of feeling locally integrated]. [In this sense], the model doesn’t seek to measure the end of displacement, but [the degree of] local integration by looking at social, economic and legal conditions.“
Great questions also came from the audience: one topic raised by a number of participants pertained to the extent to which composite measures can be standardised to allow for comparison across contexts – such as in the case of the IRIS – while still being relevant at the local level. Another topic raised, touched upon the combination of and balance between subjective and objective indicators in a measure, while others wanted to better understand in which concrete ways composite measure can inform programming.
Watch the webinar in its full length to hear more from the discussion, and feel free to get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org for any thoughts or questions you may have.
We hope that this discussion and the learning community more broadly speaking, will help improve our collective practice in the area of durable solutions analysis, as well as provide useful input for the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement and the multi-stakeholder efforts of the GP20 initiative. If you would like to continue are also continuing this conversation in the separate Learning Community on Durable Solutions Analysis.
 The International Recommendations on IDP Statistics (IRIS) were developed through the Expert Group on Refugee and IDP Statistics (EGRIS) and endorsed by the UN Statistical Commission (UNSC) at its recent 51st session, in March 2020. Find out more.
 The Local Re-Integration Index was developed by the Danwadaag Durable Solutions Consortium in Somalia, which is comprised of IOM as lead agency, NRC, ReDSS, Concern Worldwide, Shacdo, Jubaland Foundation, and Gredo.
This webinar is part of a series organized by JIPS in the context of our effort to foster and enhance a learning community on measuring durable solutions to displacement. Shaped by and for experienced practitioners of durable solutions analysis, both the webinars and learning community aim to encourage exchange and learning around available tools and tested approaches, experiences and lessons learned across contexts for improved practice on the topic.
The durable solutions analysis learning community constitutes part III of the interagency durable solutions project, a multi-stakeholder initiative led by the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs. Made possible through generous funding provided by the United States Government, it builds off the experiences from putting the Interagency Durable Solutions Indicator Library and Analysis Guide as well as other tools into practice.