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CCCM site assessment identifies needs of IDPs living in informal settings in Iraq

The current internal displacement crisis in Iraq originated in late 2013 and at present there are 3,171,606 internally displaced persons (IDPs) identified across the country. In this context, the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, in partnership with the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and REACH, updated the Informal IDP Site Assessment of the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) which was initiated in October 2014 to support multi-sector interventions in support of IDPs in spontaneous collective sites in the KRI and neighbouring areas of Ninewa and Diyala. The latest update was conducted in August and September 2015, where partners identified and assessed 609 active sites (hosting five families or more) across the KRI. Every site was visited by assessment teams in the field, where a key informant was interviewed to gather information on a standard set of indicators.

Partners designed the CCCM Informal IDP Site Assessment Web Portal, to operationalise data collected. On this portal the user can locate every informal IDP site in the KRI, make an area-based site caseload calculation, determine different needs across sites as well as access individual informal IDP site profiles and plan how to reach the site in the field. Partners developed a User Guide to the Web Portal, to facilitate the utilisation of the portal for operational actors.

The assessment found an increase in the number of informal IDP sites as well as a rise in the number of critical shelters with vulnerable conditions and households. Since the previous assessment in October 2014, the proportion of sites that include tents and unfinished buildings shelter types have increased respectively from 4% to 13% of sites with tents and 66% to 75% of sites in unfinished buildings. This raises concerns ahead of the colder climate of the winter months, in particular in the mountainous Dahuk governorate which hosts 84% of the informal IDP sites across the KRI. Across the KRI 75% of informal IDP sites were new, while 151 of the 735 previously identified sites still hosted five or more families (with many more still hosting a smaller number that were not assessed). The total caseload of living in informal IDP sites across the region amounted to 51,741 individuals and 8.875 households. Although the proportion of sites with no tenancy arrangement has dropped, from 54% to 16%, the large majority (79%) of these are still informal arrangements. Indeed, 19% of sites reported that they had been threatened with eviction. Access to services across sites remains poor; 13% of sites reported that everyone at the site is affected by water shortages, while 12% reported electricity shortages.

Thanks to this assessment, which identified thematic needs and access to services of IDP households residing in informal settings, service delivery of humanitarian actors in these sites will be based on evidence and this will in turn enhance the provision of humanitarian assistance for IDPs residing in informal sites across the KRI.

Image: Screenshot of CCCM Informal IDP Site Assessment Web Portal

REACH Rapid Assessment identifies Priority Winter Needs of Syrians living in Za’atari Camp

Winters in northern Jordan’s Al Mafraq governorate, home to Za’atari refugee camp, stand in stark contrast to its hot, dry summers. Temperatures drop to lows of 3°C, and heavy rainfall and cold winds are common. Last year, refugees in Za’atari experienced torrential rains, heavy snow, high winds, and hail in two winter storms- Huda in January and Jana in February 2015. In order to prepare residents for such conditions in the coming winter, several camp actors are currently working to provide winterisation support through the distribution of items such as heaters, gas vouchers, and children’s clothing.

To ensure that these humanitarian actors are aware of the primary needs of families in Za’atari and are able to channel their resources to the most vulnerable, REACH, in partnership with UNHCR, recently conducted its second annual Rapid Winterisation Assessment in Za’atari Camp. REACH field teams collected data over four days in October 2015 through surveys targeting a representative sample of families in the camp. Findings from this assessment will guide winter assistance programmes of UNHCR, UNICEF, and other camp partners, to better meet the needs of refugees with respect to the quantity, quality, and types of items distributed.

Findings reveal that overall, families need heaters, gas cylinders, and blankets for the upcoming winter. Heaters were the most cited need, with 81% of families listing this item as a top priority, and 78% families indicating that they either possess no heater or possess a broken heater. Moreover, families with children were also asked to rate the adequacy of their winter clothing; 76% of families consider their children’s clothing inadequate, with jackets, trousers, and shoes being the most clothing items in need for children. A summary of findings in terms of priority Non Food Item (NFI) needs can be found here.

The assessment also inquired into the suitability of families’ shelters for winter. It was found that 66% families consider their shelter unsuitable for winter, primarily due to leaking roofs. When asked about their family’s ability to address such maintenance issues themselves, 44% rated their capacity for making repairs as weak.The most frequently cited reason for this is a lack of financial resources (95%). An overview of Shelter needs is available here.

In addition to this assessment, the GIS team in Za’atari has been supporting winter preparedness efforts through analysing and mapping flood risks in the camp. The team produced a Flood Risk Analysis map in October 2015, following an early season rain storm, using elevation, water flow direction, and previous winter observations to assess flood-prone areas. This map will be used by camp actors to guide movement and the delivery of services around the camp during and after storms.

The timely replenishment of winter resiliency items and efficient provision of emergency response services is a high priority for humanitarian actors in the camp. Through the assessment findings and risk analysis mapping, many camp actors are better equipped to ensure that Za’atari residents are resilient against impending snow and rain.

Image: Za’atari camp experiences flooding around caravan shelters following an early winter storm.

Syria: Latest case study assesses secondary displacement in Idleb governorate

Since its onset almost five years ago, the conflict in Syria is estimated to have brought about the internal displacement of approximately 7.6 million people within the country, a vast majority of whom live in non-camp settings. As of 2014, almost 75% of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) lived in host communities, either for free with host families or in rented accommodation. Furthermore, at least half of the IDPs in Syria have experienced multiple displacements as a result of the spread of violence, depleted capacities of host communities, or difficulties faced in accessing livelihoods.

While humanitarian actors have been able to acquire a baseline of information about populations living in camps and collective shelters in Syria since the start of the conflict, far less is known about IDPs in non-camp settings. Additional to this information gap on the needs of displaced communities in non-camp settings, thorough understanding of multiple displacement dynamics and trends also represents an important information gap. These gaps then hinder efforts to better assist non-camp populations and communities hosting IDPs.

In an effort to address these gaps and to provide information on displacement trends and patterns in Syria, REACH is conducting a series of case studies in Syria to understand displacement patterns, intentions and humanitarian needs of IDPs in northern Syria. In this specific case study, REACH assessed two groups of IDPs who fled from Halfaya in Hama governorate to Kafrsajna and Maar Tahroma in Idleb governorate. Displacement from Halfaya to these destinations began in April 2012 in response to increasing conflict in rural Hama. In February 2015, nearly all of the households from Halfaya that had sought refuge in Maar Tahroma left and relocated to Kafrsajna.

The case study employed a micro-level approach which could shed light on multiple displacement and IDP-host community tensions. To this end, a multi-stage assessment was designed and household interviews conducted with two groups from Halfaya- one which went to Maar Tahroma and then to Kafrsajna and one which went to Kafrsajna directly. Findings indicate that IDPs from Halfaya who left Maar Tahroma for Kafrsajna departed due to tensions with the host community, rising rents, and a failure to obtain livelihood opportunities. Furthermore, relative ease of access to services and aid were cited as primary pull factors for Kafrsajna. On the other hand, those who decided to remain in Maar Tahroma cited the relative shelter and security of the site as key pull factors for not moving.

Overall, this case study presents an important example of the consequences of IDP-host community tensions and diminishing resources for displaced populations. Regardless of the root causes of tensions, cases such as this indicate a growing need for mechanisms to address the needs of displaced populations and host communities alike.

Read the complete ‘Secondary Displacement Among IDPs from Halfaya’ Displacement Profile here.

Also available: Past case study (March 2015) on ‘Displacement Patterns between Maarrat Al Nu’man and Kansafra’.

Image: A view of Maar Tahroma village, Idleb governorate ©Alkasem

Return intentions of IDPs and the future of Protection of Civilians sites in South Sudan

South Sudan is nearly two years into a violent conflict that forced an estimated 1.6 million people to leave their homes. The vast majority of these people remain displaced with marginal access to the necessities of life – clean water, food or shelter.  Many internally displaced persons (IDPs) have integrated into host communities across the country, but more than 200,000 others reside in seven Protection of Civilian sites (PoCs).

The humanitarian community and the United Nations, whose mandate has been extended until December 2015, are now involved in discussions regarding the possibility of facilitating the spontaneous relocation and reintegration of the PoC residents in their preferred areas of return. REACH team in South Sudan, in collaboration with the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) and the Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster, is leading the assessment to gather an understanding of what the intentions of the IDPs are, where their areas of preferred return are and what factors will enable returnees to live peacefully in their desired return location. In this context, between August and September 2015 REACH conducted intentions assessments in UN House PoC1 and PoC3 in Juba and in the Mingkaman spontaneous settlement site.  Assessment is currently ongoing in Bor PoC, and further assessments will be completed in Wau, Melut, Malakal and Benitu PoCs by the close of the year.

Preliminary findings show that IDPs typically want to return to the counties they consider as their ancestral homeland.  In UN House, only 26% of the respondents stated the willingness to return to Juba, despite the fact that over 50% had their pre-crisis homes there. Respondents in the UN House PoCs indicate security as the main factor for entering the PoC, and the lack of it in their preferred return locations as the main reason for staying. The second factor keeping IDPs in the site is the presence of general food distribution.  Moreover, since there is no land available for cultivation inside the PoC, finding a peaceful solution to finally end the conflict, as well as providing food and livelihood support for IDPs, will be critical factors informing choices to voluntarily leave the PoCs in the future.

REACH will continue to provide information collection, management and dissemination services to support the IDP response in South Sudan.  This support will enable stakeholders to formulate appropriate strategies to ensure the sustainability of IDP returns while informing the trajectory of the ongoing discussion of IDP returns by providing a rigorous analysis of the intentions and perceptions of IDPs.

Image: Protection of Civilian site inside UN House, Juba

Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment informs ongoing response to internal displacement crisis in Iraq

The current internal displacement crisis in Iraq originated in late 2013 when conflict broke out between Armed Groups and the Iraq Security Forces in Anbar governorate. Ever since, the spread of insecurity into northern and central parts of Iraq has caused large scale displacement with 3,171,606 internally displaced persons (IDPs) currently identified across the country. As the conflict shows little sign of abating any time soon, most IDPs are unable to safely return home and are facing either protracted displacement in their current location or multiple displacement to safer areas. Many IDPs are in dire need of assistance and few have the capacity to deal with longer-term displacement.

In this context, REACH recently conducted a Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment (MCNA) in an effort to provide an updated multi-sectoral understanding of the situation facing the internally displaced population living outside camps in accessible parts of Iraq. This assessment is the second of its kind conducted by REACH and follows up from a similar MCNA conducted in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) in October 2014 which presented the first baseline dataset on broad multi-cluster priority needs of IDPs living outside camps in the KRI. Building on this, the latest MCNA has expanded its scope to cover 14 governorates across both the KRI and other accessible areas in the rest of Iraq. The indicators and questionnaire for this assessment were developed in collaboration with cluster leads and humanitarian agencies, and primary data was collected between 14 May and 21 June.

The assessment found that for the immediate term, food, water, and shelter remain the priority needs for IDPs living outside camps in Iraq. From a mid- to long-term perspective, livelihood-based assistance was found to be a priority need for IDPs. Additionally, clear variations were found between the conditions and levels of assistance received in the northern governorates compared to central and southern governorates. For instance, IDPs in the KRI continue to struggle to access employment and are thus sinking into debt, foregoing other critical needs such as medical care and education in order to make ends meet. In contrast, IDPs in the center and south have more restricted access to basic services overall, more frequently change location, and are often more exposed to immediate at-risk environments.

Overall, the latest MCNA has not only provided a quantitative evidence base for decision makers with the purpose of planning, sector prioritization and target group identification but given the timing of its release, it has also captured priority needs ahead of the upcoming winter season. As such, findings from this assessment have informed the September 2015 Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) in Iraq and the upcoming Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) for 2016.

Read the complete ‘Multi-Cluster Needs Assessment of Internally Displaced Persons outside Camps’ assessment report here.

Image: © REACH, 2015

REACH conducts third round of IDP camp profiling in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

In mid-August 2014, the escalation of conflict in Iraq precipitated a large influx of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) into the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). This brought about the setup of several spontaneous settlements as well as the sudden development of a few planned camps across the region. In this context, REACH and the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster (CCCM) recognized the need for an operational overview of overall conditions in camps and informal sites, as well as the existing differences between displacement sites.

Subsequently in September 2014, REACH launched a camp and site profiling project of formal and informal IDP sites in the KRI and disputed areas of Ninewa and Diyala. The project was planned in several phases; the first phase which was launched in October 2014 aimed to create a baseline overview of needs and gaps in the camps. This was followed by a second and third phase in January and September 2015 respectively to monitor developments over time as the response continued. In October 2015, a first round of profiling was also launched for camps in Baghdad and Missan.

The methodology used for profiling consists of household level assessments sampled at the camp/ site level and accompanying infrastructure and spatial analysis, and includes multi-sectoral indicators as agreed with CCCM cluster and other cluster leads. The latest factsheets from the third round are available for the following camps on our Resource Centre: Aiden, Alwand 1, Ashti, Baharka, Bajed Kandala, Bardarash, Bersive 1, Chamisku, Dawudiya, Essian, Garmawa, Harshm, Kabarto 1, Kabarto 2, Khanke, Mamilian, Qoratu, Rwanga Community, Shariya, and Sheikhan.

The overall aim of this project is to inform humanitarian response to IDPs living in camp settings at an operational and strategic level. At an operational level, profiles produced in the past have been used by implementing agencies to design and monitor areas of intervention. The profiles also provided camp management with an overview of ongoing developments as well as priority needs and gap areas on which to focus. At the strategic level, the profiles enhanced programme development and allowed donors to gain a comparative understanding of camps within and between governorates. The profiles also provided an overview of capacity and potential for future developments and contingency planning. Therefore, going forward, the project seeks to facilitate the identification of needs and response gaps to support the upcoming Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), as well as to allow camp management to more easily monitor service delivery and changing conditions over time.

Image: REACH assessment team conducting camp infrastructure mapping, September 2015

New REACH study analyses communication channels and social media usage in Syria

A conflict on a scale as large as the one ongoing in Syria is bound to disrupt and bring about intermissions in existing channels of communication. However, to date, few surveys have undertaken a broad analysis of information needs, channels and barriers faced in accessing communication platforms by Syrians within the country. To fill such gaps, REACH conducted a thematic assessment of communication channels and social media usage so as to provide information on the ways in which various social media and communication platforms are utilized by different population groups within Syria.

Data for this assessment was collected through the monthly ‘Area of Origin’ data collection system, where Syrian refugee participants collect data through pre-identified key informants that remain in their village or neighbourhood of origin in Syria. Key informants inside Syria were also contacted directly from Turkey. The same methodology was also used for another recent REACH livelihoods assessment of needs and humanitarian situation inside Syria which sought to assess livelihood sources and highlight limited opportunities available to sustain livelihoods in the country.

The social media assessment found a prevalent use of internet based applications within the communities assessed. With 4 million refugees in neighbouring countries and six and a half million Internally Displaced Persons within Syria, it is discernable that communication tools have become critical for the population to maintain contact with their family and friends both inside and outside the country. Among the platforms in use for communication, WhatsApp was the most reported application (cited by 89% of informants) followed by traditional voice calling and Facebook. Usage of Twitter and Youtube was also reported. Social media platforms, especially Facebook, was also cited to be used as a trusted source of information for current events within the country.

Although majority of informants reported using the internet on a daily basis, some access barriers continue to persist. For example, the costs associated with phone calls and internet communication are relatively high; on average, 3,374 SYP (US$ 18) and 4,208 SYP (US$ 22) is spent per month on internet and phone communication respectively. In addition to high costs, electricity was also cited as a critical barrier to internet access with batteries and internet cafes being used as the main coping measures to deal with it. Another cited barrier specific to the use of social media platforms was privacy protection concerns related to the reliability of privacy settings for one’s personal account and publications, which limits the usage of such platforms to communicate sensitive information.

Read the Area of Origins- Communication Channels and Social Media Report here.

Image: Map showing most reported internet provider by governorate as of May 2015

Vanuatu: Evaluating Shelter response in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam

On the night of 13th March 2015, Cyclone Pam hit the island of Vanuatu, affecting an estimated 188,000 people across all six provinces and causing widespread damage to personal shelters, infrastructure and livelihoods. At the end of March, REACH was deployed to Vanuatu in partnership with the Global Shelter Cluster to implement a detailed Shelter and Settlements Vulnerability Assessment which would identify vulnerabilities and inform the development of a medium to long term strategy for the Cluster. Following the completion of shelter activities outlined in the Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) on 31st July, the Shelter Cluster redeployed the baseline assessment team in August 2015 to conduct a detailed evaluation of the shelter response. In an attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of the operational response and identify barriers to recovery, the aim was to monitor sheltering conditions, evaluate the utility of various shelter interventions, determine what gaps and needs continue to exist and finally, inform future preparedness and contingency planning.

In this context, the evaluation found that 68% households had received some kind of assistance since the launch of humanitarian operations with the most commonly received shelter assistance being tarpaulins. While majority of the households reported having used received assistance, those who did not, reported commonly to have stored this assistance for future use, thus highlighting the prevalence of household-level preparedness strategies. Household-level preparedness is also reflected in the fact that a large majority of households (66%) reported having taken specific measures like trimming tree tops and branches near shelters, fitting shutters or screens to glass areas and cleaning property of loose material to ensure that their shelter would be safer in the event of another disaster. In terms of recovery, 85% of households reported that they had completed substantial repairs or rebuilding of their shelter at the time of assessment while 81% reported that they had remaining needs to facilitate full shelter recovery. Indeed, shelter/ housing support was the most commonly reported priority need after drinking water and food. Despite the persistence of such basic needs, it is worth noting that according to evaluation data, the need for Non Food Items (NFIs) which was significantly reported during the baseline assessment, has since been fulfilled.

Overall, the evaluation has demonstrated that for the most part, the response has been relevant in its design and planning while meeting immediate emergency shelter needs of affected populations. On the other hand, with almost a quarter of households (21%) still reporting shelter/ housing support as their first priority need combined with the reported needs for shelter recovery, the need for the provision of housing assistance to facilitate full shelter recovery in Vanuatu still remains. Therefore, as the response transitions from an emergency phase into the recovery and preparedness programming stage, it is critical that these remaining needs be taken into account and integrated into the future planning process for recovery.

Image: A shelter in Vanuatu © REACH, 2015