JIPS-EGRIS Virtual Conference 2020 | Building Capacity for Improved Displacement Statistics

27.Oct.2020
By Camille Arimoto (JIPS)

JIPS and the Steering Committee of the Expert Group on Refugee and IDP Statistics (EGRIS) jointly organised a one-day virtual conference to discuss ways to improve statistics on forced displacement. Building on the momentum created by the newly adopted statistical frameworks, the International Recommendations on Refugee and IDP Statistics (IRRS and IRIS), the conference reinforced the need for improved availability and quality data on refugees, asylum seekers, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) to ensure that their needs and rights are fulfilled following global commitments. It also showcased concrete efforts already made by actors at the national, regional and international levels, and provided rich input for EGRIS and the wider community moving forward.

Bringing together a wide range of actors – decision makers and experts from governments and national statistical offices, humanitarian and development actors, as well as academia – the conference registered 300 participants from more than 20 countries and included six sessions with Q&As. If you missed the event or want to re-watch portions of it, take a look at the session videos or check out the detailed conference report.

 

Get a snapshot of the discussions at the JIPS-EGRIS Conference 2020 and speakers’ recommendations on how to improve statistics on people forcibly displaced within and beyond the borders of their country.

 

Celebrating the achievement of a key milestone

The conference marked the beginning of the implementation of EGRIS’ third phase. Speakers, moderators and participants alike welcomed that the statistical frameworks on forced displacement and the accompanying Compilers’ Manual re-asserted national responsibility of member states of the United Nations for their IDPs, refugees and other forcibly displaced persons, while providing operational guidance to produce, analyse and disseminate quality and comparable statistics on these population groups.

“There is a famous saying, ladies and gentlemen, and I’m sure you have heard this before that ‘who is not counted, does not count’. […] The importance of strengthening official statistics on internally displaced persons by including them, first of all, in national statistical systems cannot be underestimated.” – Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of IDPs

 

As such, the new statistical frameworks were coined as true gamechangers and an important tool to facilitate the “leaving no one behind” principle. Speakers from National Statistical Offices in Morocco and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq explained what the frameworks meant for their countries and what their future plans were to integrate them in their national statistical systems.

 

Developing capacities and coordinating forced displacement statistics

When it comes to data and statistics on forced displacement, Christophe Tatsinkou from the National Institute for Statistics in Cameroon, rightly pointed out that timely, reliable and quality data is difficult to come by as national statistical systems are diverse and information flows often come from multiple sources. Developing capacities in this area therefore requires us to think and perhaps even rethink the content of our approaches – the ‘what’ – but also the delivery mechanisms – the ‘how’. How do we train the trainers? How are participants selected? Are ICT infrastructures sufficiently developed for NSOs to participate in remote training?

“I had moved from institution to institution, explaining the importance of making sure that we have this information put together […] which is now the Annual Economic Survey […]. And the information on refugees is part and parcel of the governance, peace, and security statistics.” – Robert Buluma, Manager of Governance, Peace and Security Statistics, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics

 

Data integration and interoperability become critical, requiring better coordination among different data producing bodies and partnerships across the national statistics system. Indeed, taking the examples of Georgia and Columbia, both speakers highlighted that well-established coordination mechanisms are key to facilitate consensus building on sources and methodologies and maintain trust in the data.

 

A pledge for investing in data

Speakers also highlighted the additional challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and underscored the critical need to incentivise the demand and attract adequate long-term funding. Johannes Jutting, the Executive Head of the Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (Paris21), suggested that we consider innovative approaches such as a global fund for data and statistics to ensure sustainable financing of statistics, including on forced displacement.

“We [should] prepare national statistical offices [so] they can take this new role as we move up from the National Statistical System to a National Data System.” – Gero Carletto, Manager, Development Data Group, World Bank

 

We still have a long way to go for the roll-out of IRRS and IRIS and strengthened statistical systems. In this sense, the conference just marked the beginning of the conversation on improving statistics on forced displacement and we hope that through these insightful discussions, concrete plans and actions will follow at all levels.

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