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Broad review of internal displacement patterns in South Sudan

REACH has released a new report examining the profile and displacement patterns of internally displaced persons in sites across South Sudan. The study addresses the need for a broad overview of internal displacement in the country, which has caused over 2 million individuals to become displaced since the start of the the current conflict in December 2013, including over 500,000 refugees, and an estimated 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the study provides an overview of displacement in ten major displacement sites across the six most conflict-affected states in South Sudan. The report examines household level data about the displacement history, socio-economic profile and intentions of IDPs in four informal settlements, and in six Protection of Civilians sites on the bases of United Nations peacekeeping forces.

Amid ongoing discussions about relocations, the study was developed to examine the extent to which displacement patterns and intentions are affected by a range of push and pull factors. In the short term, the analysis presented in this report provides detailed information at community level to inform advocacy around returns and relocations, and in the longer term to inform durable solutions.

While the major displacement sites examined in this report are the primary focus of the humanitarian response, the vast majority of displaced persons are estimated to reside elsewhere, many in “hard-to-reach” areas about which little information is known. Based on community-level data provided through key informant interviews and focus group discussions in eight sites in hard-to-reach areas in Unity, Jonglei and Lakes States, the report also describes the dire humanitarian situation in some of these areas, where further information on humanitarian needs is desperately needed to inform the provision of assistance.

Preliminary findings from these sites have been compiled in a series of factsheetsBentiuBorDelthoma I, Delthoma II, Juba,Malakal, Melut, Mingkaman, Wau and Wau Shilluk.

The full report is available here: South Sudan Sisplacement Trends Analysis.

Cyclone Pam: Results of shelter and settlements assessment in Vanuatu

Following Cyclone Pam, which caused widespread damage when it struck Vanuatu on March 13th 2015, REACH teams were on the ground to implement a detailed inter-agency shelter and settlements vulnerability assessment in partnership with the Global Shelter Cluster.

The aim of the assessment was threefold: to verify the coverage of emergency shelter and NFI assistance and conduct a gap analysis and to inform the development of a comprehensive shelter and settlements recovery strategy for the Vanuatu. The study also sought to establish a baseline and method for a potential longitudinal study of recovery. Primary data was collected between 15 April and 1 May 2015 across 13 sample sites, including 18 islands,  1 peri-urban and 2 urban locations. These sites were selected on the basis of high levels of damage identified through initial rapid assessments led by the Government of Vanuatu. Key findings from household level data collection are presented in a series of factsheets.

Across the assessed islands, varying levels of sustained damage, access to resources, livelihoods, and assistance were found, depending on the households’ geographic location. Overall, 81% of assessed households reported that their shelter had sustained some level of damage as a result of the cyclone, with 27% continuing to host displaced friends or family at the time of assessment.

Regarding gaps, 46% of households across the affected area reported that they had not received emergency shelter assistance by the time of the assessment, with the largest gap between needs and assistance identified in peri-urban locations. Despite this, many families and already completed considerable reconstruction and repair by the time of assessment,  largely thanks to support from community networks, friends and family.

Based on the analysis presented in this report, key recommendations for recovery phase shelter programming, identified and endorsed by Shelter Cluster partners, should contribute to a more effective humanitarian response in Vanuatu.

Read the full Report: Shelter and Settlements Vulnerability Assessment – Cyclone Pam Response.

Joint project with UNITAR explores crowd-sourcing in emergency response

This week, REACH is at a Science festival in London to present a new project which explores the role of crowd-sourcing in an emergency response. The Geotag-X Project, developed with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR), allows volunteers to answer simple questions about photographs from a humanitarian emergency, and collectively analyse large quantities of data.

Part of Citizen Cyberlab, a research project funded by the European Union, Geotag-X is one of several pilots developed to study creativity and learning in on-line citizen science. The project examines how volunteers can work with the large volumes of data produced in a crisis, and to what extent their ability to identify, categorise and extract relevant data could be a useful tool in humanitarian operations.

REACH and UNITAR worked together to create the flagship project Are Shelters Prepared for Winter? which teaches volunteers to assess whether emergency shelters meet minimum criteria to protect their inhabitants against climatic extremes. Based on a series of recent photographs taken by REACH data collection teams in Iraq and Jordan, the app includes observation questions based on standard indicators developed by REACH and the Global Shelter Cluster.

While the Winter Shelter pilot allows volunteers to learn about needs assessment in a humanitarian response and to better understand conditions for the thousands of people currently living in displacement sites in these areas, other Geotag-X pilots examine a wide range of issues, including drought, climate change and pollution.

Anyone can participate in Geotag-X and our volunteers add real value to the project through testing applications, analysing photographs and providing feedback. Try it out here: Winter Shelter Assessment on Geotag-X

Remote damage assessments show the devastating effect of ongoing conflict in Syria

Remote damage assessments carried out through the REACH Initiative have enabled humanitarian actors to better understand the situation in Syria in areas with limited humanitarian access. Satellite imagery and analysis have shown conflict-related damage across the country, and allowed emergency responders to monitor humanitarian access, track population movement and assess conditions for displaced persons in camps.

The role of remote sensing technology is illustrated in a new report by the United Nations Operational Satellite programme (UNOSAT), which uses satellite imagery and analysis to document the conflict in Syria over the past four years. Unlike some forms of analysis, high resolution satellite imagery is accessible to a wide audience, enabling both emergency responders and the general public to clearly see the changing situation and understand the implications for individuals on the ground.

According to the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator Valerie Amos: “UNOSAT’s provision of information and analysis has made a major contribution to the delivery of humanitarian assistance through the monitoring of besieged areas where some 212,000 people are living without access to humanitarian aid“. Real-time analysis has supported humanitarian action on several levels: data has informed the delivery of assistance at an operational level though showing access constraints , while evidence of damage caused by aerial bombardment has been used to monitor compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law.

Read the report: Four Years of Human Suffering – the Syria Conflict as Observed through Satellite Imagery
Read more about UNOSAT and the REACH Consortium partners
Image: Bab al Hawa IDP camp, Syria, following a reported airstrike in November 2012

Latest updates from Nepal Earthquake

Following the devastating earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday 25 April 2015, REACH teams are on the ground in Kathmandu and affected rural areas to assist actors in the humanitarian response.

Initial maps have been produced to show the location of the earthquake, the population of affected areas prior to the disaster and the estimated extents of the damage. REACH has also produced a number of base maps to assist humanitarian actors on the ground to localise affected areas, to record damage and to plan their response to the immediate lifesaving needs of the thousands who are estimated to have been affected. In collaboration with coordinating bodies in the humanitarian response, REACH teams are currently designing a rapid assessment to gain a more detailed understanding of damage and initial needs related to shelter.

All maps can be viewed by clicking on the links below:

Nepal, Earthquake Affected Areas, 27 April 2015
Nepal, Population by District, 27 April 2015
Kathmandu Reference Map, 27 April 2015
Kathmandu Satellite Image, 27 April 2015
Kathmandu Reference Map with Satellite Image, 27 April 2015

All the latest resources can be found on the Nepal page of the REACH Resource Centre. 

Launch of a new Monitoring and Evaluation framework for shelter actors in Somalia

From 18-23 April, REACH and the Somalia Shelter Cluster conducted a training event in Nairobi to launch a new cluster monitoring and evaluation framework. The training was intended to familiarise cluster partners with a newly developed set of tools and guidance, which will assist shelter actors with needs assessment, planning, implementation and monitoring of programmes. 

Thanks to the generous support of ECHO and in close coordination with the Shelter Cluster Working Group, REACH developed the monitoring and evaluation framework, tools and guidance for the Shelter Cluster and its partners. Many of the resources are newly developed and require field-testing. Over the coming weeks and months, REACH will support five agencies to pilot the new monitoring and evaluation framework in Somalia.

During the workshop, partners agreed on a standardized set of core shelter indicators for the Somali context, which will facilitate shared data collection, analysis and monitoring of programmes among all shelter partners. Partners were also supported to develop a more systematic approach to the collection, management, and reporting of information, in order to improve decision-making and to allow shelter programmes to be more systematically evaluated. Effective needs assessment, monitoring and evaluation helps all actors to measure the outputs and outcomes of their work against identified needs, and therefore to improve their accountability to affected populations, to each other, and to their donors. 

 All the latest resources about Somalia can be found on the Somalia page of the REACH Resource Centre.

REACH deployed to Ukraine to support the Global Shelter Cluster

Approximately 1.1 million people have been displaced from their homes due to ongoing conflict in the Donbas region of Ukraine. Access to basic lifesaving services has been disrupted throughout much of the affected area and the influx of displaced persons has placed a strain on markets, resulting in steadily increasing prices of food and non-food items. Displacement has left many families with limited access to cash, income or social benefits, leaving them particularly vulnerable to rising inflation. Moreover, the arrival of displaced families has placed a strain also on the hosting population, since existing services and resources are stretched.

Despite the visible need for assistance, information on the displaced population’s specific needs for shelter and other basic items is limited. Where available, existing data is not sufficiently representative to be used as the basis of rigorous planning, and therefore further information is needed to inform targeted assistance by humanitarian actors.

In response to this information gap, REACH is about to launch a detailed needs assessment of the displaced population in Ukraine to better understand their needs relating to shelter and other basic items. In partnership with the Global Shelter Cluster, the statistically representative survey builds on existing data from other assessments by humanitarian agencies and the Ukrainian government and aims to close the information gap with respect to the shelter and NFI needs of the displaced population. The information collected will provide a baseline assessment, which will identify areas of priority need, inform targeted planning by humanitarian actors and allow monitoring of the ongoing humanitarian response.

REACH emergency deployment to Nepal

The massive earthquake that has struck Nepal on Saturday 25th April 2015 has resulted in thousands of people affected and over 3,000 deaths. Humanitarian needs are increasing by the hour, with an immediate reported need for shelter solutions and medicines.

To support the humanitarian response, an emergency REACH team (with staff coming from Geneva, South Sudan and Jordan) has been deployed to the country on Monday 27th of April, with additional emergency response capacity foreseen for the coming days.

REACH will focus on assessing the priority needs of the affected people, such as shelter, food, health, water and sanitation. Throughout the deployment, and within the cluster framework, REACH will contribute to the coordination of information and to the planning of the humanitarian response among local and international aid actors.

Vanuatu Deployment: Update from ongoing shelter assessment

In the aftermath of Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam that has struck Vanuatu on the evening of March 132015, two members of the REACH team have been deployed to support the Global Shelter Cluster response.

Data collection has focused on three main areas. At the pre-emergency level, REACH team has been recording shelter and settlements situation prior to Cyclone Pam. This has facilitated, in the immediate post-crisis, a review of emergency shelter interventions as well as gap analysis. Ongoing monitoring includes the establishment of a monitoring framework for shelter actors to measure the impact of their medium to long term recovery strategy. In this regards, REACH is notably planning a monitoring mission three months from end of the assessment, in cooperation with the Global Shelter Cluster.

So far, data collection has been completed in Efate (the most populated island, hosting the capital city Port-Vila) and surrounding islands. While rural, peri-urban, and surrounding islands are covered by REACH staff, REACH has also trained and coordinated a team of Youth Challenge Vanuatu volunteers contracted by UN-Habitat in urban Port-Vila. Furthermore, the Assessment Coordinator designated in the framework of REACH partnership with the Global Shelter Cluster will be travelling to Tanna to launch data collection in the Southern Islands during the next days.

While data collection is expected to last until the end of April 2015, some initial products — such as sample site profiles — will be released in the coming weeks. Preliminary data collected by REACH will be used for the shelter section of the World Bank Post Disaster Needs Assessment, as well as for the Government of Vanuatu-led Multi Cluster Needs Assessment.

Internal displacement in Syria: a case study

This week, REACH released the first of a series of case studies examining internal displacement in Syria. The short profile examines the displacement of two groups of internally displaced persons (IDPs) from the same community in Idleb, northern Syria. Between 2012 and 2013, following increasing insecurity in the town of Maarrat al Nu’man, thousands of households were reported to have moved to the nearby town of Kansafra. In 2014, an estimated 2,600 of these individuals remained in Kansafra, but by February 2014, approximately three quarters of this group are understood to have returned.

Based on information from 79 interviews with key informants and households in both locations, the case study provides a micro-level analysis in order to further our understanding of the different factors affecting displacement in the Syrian context. While humanitarian actors often anticipate that IDP communities will react to shocks collectively, underlying differences amongst households that form and accumulate over time will likely become increasingly important determinants of how communities respond and whether they split or stay together.

The common factors that influenced this movement are likely present elsewhere. Therefore, the study of this particular case can also support the analysis of other similar movements. For humanitarian actors, finding ways to ensure that displacement is understood, and even anticipated, and that returns remain safe, voluntary and dignified is important to understand and better assist displaced populations within Syria and elsewhere.

Read the report: Internal displacement patterns between Maarrat al Nu’man and Kansafra, Syria

REACH is deployed to Vanuatu to support the Shelter Cluster response in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam

In the framework of REACH partnership with the Global Shelter Cluster (GSC), two members of the REACH team have been deployed to Vanuatu to support the Shelter Cluster response in the aftermath of Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam.

Vanuatu consists of 83 main islands (63 of them are permanently inhabited) that are divided in 6 provinces (Torba, Sanma, Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea) and spread out in a Y-shape form beginning with Hiu Island in the north to Mathew and Hunter islands in the south[1]. As of 2015, its population is estimated to be more than 270,000 inhabitants[2].

Vanuatu was struck by Cyclone Pam, an extremely destructive category 5 cyclone, on the evening of March 13th at around 11p.m. local time. It affected an estimated 166,000 people on 22 islands. According to primary assessments, 110,000 people are currently in need of clean drinking water and 75,000 are in need of emergency shelter. Moreover, up to 96 % of crops destroyed, leaving people with no alternative food stocks[3].

REACH will be facilitating a Shelter Cluster assessment, in coordination with the Government of Vanuatu as well as other humanitarian actors.

[1] Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO), Demographic and Health Survey, 2013

[2] Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO) Website, 

[3] UNOCHA and National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Flash Appeal Emergency Response Plan for Vanuatu Tropical Cyclone Pam March-June 2015, 2015

Results of a study on sanitation and hygiene in the Philippines inform large scale UNICEF project

One year after Typhoon Haiyan and as the situation has stabilised, REACH conducted a large-scale study to contribute to the development of best practices for sustainable change in sanitation and hygiene behaviour in the Philippines. This assessment was undertaken between September and November 2014 as a baseline for the UNICEF funded Philippine Approach to Total Sanitation (PhATS) program, which aims to achieving universal access to safe and adequate sanitation facilities in the country by 2028.

The assessment examined  knowledge, attitudes and practices related to Water, Hygiene and Sanitation, and included a survey of 3,025 households in project areas across six provinces: Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Cebu, Capiz and Iloilo. The study used a mixed-methods approach to collect both qualitative and quantitative information at household level, community level, and in schools. The assessment found significant variation between the six provinces, but revealed a high overall level of hygiene awareness and knowledge. It also demonstrated a significant gap between the reported importance of hand-washing and its practice, therefore careful selection and targeting of relevant hygiene messages will be particularly important.

At the household level, it was found that an estimated 93% of the population in PhATS project areas were using an improved source of drinking water. However, key gaps included the need to raise awareness on adequate/inadequate methods of water treatment and on the link between unsafe water and health risks other than diarrhoea. While an estimated 89% of households in project areas were using an improved sanitation facility, 17% were found to be practising open defecation. This varied significantly by province, with up to 42% of households in Cebu province having at least one member practising open defecation, but did not drop below 13%. Nevertheless, the baseline data indicated that awareness of the health risks of open defecation was already high across all project areas; which suggests that it may be beneficial to focus messaging on non-health benefits of toilets, such as prestige, privacy, comfort and well-being. 

In schools, water supply emerged as a key issue, often undermining or limiting the effectiveness of other interventions, including group hygiene activities, new infrastructure and efforts to keep toilets clean. As such, addressing these water supply issues could be a particularly useful strategy. There are also opportunities for greater incorporation of WASH in both planning and funding allocation in schools in project areas, and for the establishment of more school committees responsible for promoting and overseeing WASH. Furthermore, the assessment highlighted the role of teachers as essential actors in curbing open defecation, suggesting that it may be useful to have more extensive teacher consultation and training on these issues, and to develop approaches to working closely with teachers towards zero open defecation.

Read the full Report here: Philippine Approach to Total Sanitation (PhATS) Baseline Assessment, February 2015

REACH presents key information on the humanitarian response in Niger

Last week, REACH presented key information about the humanitarian response in Niger’s Diffa region, to an audience of over 30 government and humanitarian stakeholders. The data, collected by REACH, includes information on 3,451 ongoing humanitarian activities throughout the region, in order to improve the coordination of humanitarian assistance and identify synergies and gaps in the current response.

Niger currently hosts tens of thousands of Malian and Nigerian refugees, as well as several thousand recently internally displaced households. Following the recent extension of violence from north east Nigeria into the Diffa region of Niger, the humanitarian situation is changing dramatically. In addition to the 100,000 Nigerian refugee and Nigerien returnee population already estimated to be in the region, the recent crisis has provoked internal displacement of thousands of persons (IDPs), refugees, returnees and host population alike. With little information available about the developing humanitarian situation, it is vital to know who is operating where and doing what, and that this information is shared in a way that is easy to use.

The information collected by REACH is displayed through an interactive dashboard, which shows the “6Ws” of the humanitarian response: Who, When, for Whom, Where, What and hoW many? The data can be filtered by location, activity, donor and beneficiary population, and provides a comprehensive picture of ongoing humanitarian activities.

The project was funded by the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR, who coordinates the response of more than 50 national and international humanitarian organisations. Each operational agency contributed projects to the database, which is regularly updated to reflect the developing situation.

Explore the Niger Interactive Dashboard, or Browse the latest resources from REACH in Niger