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Mingkaman Spontaneous Settlement Population Count

Since October 2015 a large influx of internally displaced persons (IDPs) crossed the Nile to reach Mingkaman from neighbouring Jonglei State. In November and December, new arrivals came following attacks which took place on the 17th of November, targeting civilian populations and government and NGO assets in Jelle and Parker Payams, Twic East County, Jonglei State. Estimations of the number of IDPs arriving in Mingkaman during this period varied between 5,000 and 41,000. To address and investigate this sizable variance in estimates, REACH conducted a rapid population count in Mingkaman Spontaneous Settlement.

To quantify recent population change, REACH asked households about the average number of people who slept in their shelter during November and during the week of 6 – 13 December 2015, and whether they expected other relatives to arrive. To compliment these household findings, REACH conducted focus group discussions to better understand displacement trends, reasons for leaving area of origin, means of travel, and the possibility of future arrivals to Mingkaman site.

The last population count, conducted through IOM’s biometric registration, took place in February 2015 and showed a population of 71,652. REACH found a total population of 52, 942 in the established Mingkaman Spontaneous Settlement, 12,019 were reported to have arrived between 13 November and 13 December 2015. This estimate included only the population of the established site and not newly settled surrounding areas. REACH found that the primary areas of origin of new arrivals were Twic East County and Bor South County. Those arriving from Twic East County fled the violent attacks which took place in November, in search of safety and aid. Those coming from Bor South County travelled in search of humanitarian aid; many of these also had relatives or friends already in Mingkaman. REACH also found that 60% of households at the site were expecting new arrivals from both Bor South County and Twic East County in January 2016.

The primary objective of this population count assessment was to develop an estimate of the population in the Mingkaman Spontaneous Settlement, in order to help humanitarian aid actors better understand the size of the population in Mingkaman and the scale of recent and expected in-migration This project is providing timely and critical information to those actors implementing the response. For more information, read the full assessment here

Monitoring food, NFI, and fuel prices in the Syrian Northern governorates during 2015

During 2015, the Cash Based Responses Working Group (CBR), with the support of REACH, has been monitoring prices in Syria’s northern governorates of Idleb, Lattakia, Aleppo, Hama, Ar- Raqqa, Deir ez-Zor and al-Hasakeh. 11 partners contributed resources to this initiative, collecting data on a monthly basis in over 40 sub district. As a result of 6 months of periodic data collection, REACH has just released a report outlining trends related to market access, prices, availability, and supply chains over time and across locations, which was presented during the latest CBR working group in Antakya, Turkey.

Through this assessment, REACH aimed to link local conditions with broader macroeconomic trends, but variations in coverage meant that it was not possible to make consistent comparisons in and across sub districts. REACH found that markets inside Syria showed resilience in the face of the current protracted conflict. Over the past six months, markets did not have restocking issues in essential commodities and food items. And when shortages did happen, it only took a few days for additional stock to be sourced. This was found to be the case even during periods where specific active conflict related events, such as aerial bombardments and military operations, took place.

Despite the overall cost of the items included in the monthly Market Monitoring Exercise rising over the past six months, REACH found that there was a variation amongst individual commodities. The average price of the Survival Minimum Expenditure Basket (SMEB) rose 24% (6,464 SYP) since June, despite the equivalent cost of the SMEB in dollars, which decreased 2.3%, indicating that the increase in prices did not keep pace with inflation. Geographically, Deir ez-Zor reported markedly higher SMEB prices for the months of October (35,841 SYP; 105.73 USD) and November (41,601 SYP; 110.35 USD) 2015.

The main objectives of this exercise was to take stock of the information collected to date and to consider information gaps to be filled in future rounds of the Market Monitoring Exercise or through other assessments. One of the key observations from this report relates to the heavy focus on traders, and the need to collect additional information from consumers moving forward, in order to gain a fuller picture of market functionality. To read the full report click here.

Education Needs Assessment in North Rakhine State, Myanmar

Physically isolated from the rest of Myanmar, by inaccessible ranges of mountains and hills, is the state of Rakhine. A combination of geography, history and ethno-regional politics, has seen Rakhine’s social and economic development slow down. Sporadic tensions between Buddhist and Muslim communities have characterised much of Rakhine’s modern history, but erupted most recently and dramatically in 2012. For the past three years, much of the northern part of Rakhine was affected by outbreaks of violence that saw approximately 145,000 people displaced into temporary camps.

Consequently, Rakhine’s education sector was significantly impaired. Today, an estimated 60,000 children aged 3-17 years, residing in internal displacement camps, are unable to access formal education. Additionally, existing education facilities in communities hosting displaced populations are under tremendous strain. To facilitate a joint education needs assessment for the Rakhine Education in Emergencies (EiE) Sector, REACH was mobilized to the region and collected primary data between September and October 2015. The assessment covered schools and communities in Maungdaw, Buthidaung, Rathedaung, Sittwe, Pauktaw, Kyauktaw, Mrauk-U, Minbya and Myebon townships, and was conducted in collaboration with EiE sector partners Plan International, Save the Children International, Lutheran World Federation and UNICEF.

Through the assessment, REACH was able to identify key barriers keeping children out of school. One of the most critical factors, found to determine access to education, was household poverty status. This inevitably interacted with factors such as a village’s geographical remoteness, the presence or absence of schools, the presence or absence of transport links, and the presence or absence of conflict dynamics restricting movement or access. These factors were also found to be entangled with the quality of education. For example, remote, inaccessible or areas affected by conflict were more likely to be under-resourced and understaffed. Finally, the economic and political marginalisation of Rakhine relative to the rest of the country was also found to be overarching barrier to access to education. Read the complete assessment report here.

Overall, REACH assessment provided evidence to key education responders on the current state of education quality, utilisation and access, thereby informing aid actors’ medium-term programming, planning and advocacy strategies.

Image: Basic education primary school, Myebon township

Remote monitoring highlights humanitarian situation in hard-to-reach areas of South Sudan

REACH has just published the first series of reports providing comprehensive information about the humanitarian situation in Unity State, South Sudan. The report covers 38 conflict-affected communities within the state and describes ongoing humanitarian needs related to water and sanitation, food security, health and education. It also provides detailed information about drivers of displacement in Unity State, providing valuable information to help humanitarian actors predict future displacement trends.

Since the outbreak of conflict in South Sudan in December 2013, Unity has been among the worst affected by the ongoing conflict, with almost half a million internally displaced people (IDPs) according to the international Organization for Migration (IOM).  Many communities across Unity are reported to have been completely razed as a result of the conflict, with 45% of respondents reporting that nobody from their community remained. For those that do remain, mostly women and children, the majority are no longer living in their homes and instead stay in the nearby bush with no shelter at all. The vast majority of assessed communities were reported to host internally displaced persons, also predominantly women and children. All were found to have limited access to food, services and assistance.

In a region already suffering from acute food insecurity prior to the crisis, access to food has reportedly decreased by 75-100 percentage points—97% of assessed communities were relying on a diet of wild foods, seeds, and often water lilies, in order to cope. Access to healthcare was also found to have reduced significantly, with medical services only available in 16% of assessed communities at the time of assessment, most of these provided by NGOs. Ongoing insecurity has caused clinics to be evacuated in recent months, leaving the remaining population increasingly vulnerable to disease.

Findings are based on data collected through a network of 391 key informants from major displacement sites, who provide up-to-date information on the situation in their area of origin, either through recent visits or contact with friends and family remaining there. Using a methodology first developed by REACH to monitor the Syria crisis from neighbouring countries, this is the first of several state-level situation overviews for South Sudan, which will be produced in the coming months with the aim of informing key aid actors implementing programs in the region.

Read the complete `Unity State, South Sudan Situation Overview

Image: Displacement to major sites in Unity State

REACH in the Balkans: Real time monitoring and profiling of migration trends towards Europe

The scale of ongoing migration into Europe is unprecedented, with over a million asylum seekers arriving in 2015. According to UNHCR, as of December 2015, there have been 921,713 arrivals by sea alone. However, harsh weather conditions and rough seas have recently reduced the flow of migrants entering Europe by the sea-crossing from Turkey to Greece, with figures from UNHCR showing a decrease in the number of migrants arriving on the Greek islands in the second half of December. As countries of the European Union (EU) continue their discussions on how to better integrate the migrants, it is of utmost importance to build an understanding of the ongoing migration to respond to the current crisis and prepare contingency plans for future displacement towards the EU. 

In this context, and following a first assessment of the refugee crisis in September 2015, REACH, has established since November 2015 a displacement monitoring mechanism to assess the trends and profile of new arrivals into Europe through the Western Balkans, with the support of the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO). With the aim of providing a better, real-time understanding of displacement profiles, trends and intentions for humanitarian planning and policy decision-makers in Europe, REACH has deployed assessment teams, based in the Western Balkans, who collect primary data on a daily basis on the profiles, motivations and intentions of migrants arriving to Europe, mainly originating from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Through primary data collected between 9 and 31 December 2015, REACH teams uncovered that, unlike the September 2015 assessment, which found that the majority of group traveling were made up of single men, families were now the more prevalent among the traveling groups. REACH findings also indicate that of the total number of males travelling alone, 21% reported being unaccompanied minors aged 15-17, the majority of which were from Afghanistan. In the context of country destinations, Germany remained to be the most commonly intended destination, with 78% of groups expressing their willingness to reach Germany as a final destination.

REACH’s field research in the Balkans is also complemented by regular social media reviews and by field research in migrants’ countries of origin, notably in Syria and its neighbouring countries of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. Furthermore, REACH’s action complements and is being coordinated with other key humanitarian agencies such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which are currently tracking displacement routes and approximate numbers of arrivals.

Through this intervention REACH will continue providing monthly updates on trends and profiling of the migrants arriving to the Western Balkans, with the aim of providing consistent and regular evidence as the basis for the response and the decision making of key stakeholders, including humanitarian actors and policy-makers within the EU.

Read the complete ‘European Migration Crisis, Western Balkans’ situation overview.

Image: Migrants at the Serbian-Hungarian border in Horgos, September 2015

Joint assessment identifies primary needs for food security and livelihoods in the aftermath of 2015 Nepal earthquakes

On the 25th of April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal with its epicentre in Gorkha district, approximately 81km northwest of Kathmandu, causing widespread damage to homes, land, infrastructure and livelihoods, and affecting millions of people across 39 out of 75 districts. The Nepalese government categorized 14 of these districts as severely affected: Dhading, Gorkha, Rasuwa, Kabhrepalanchok, Nuwakot, Dolakha, Sindhupalchok, Kathmandu, Ramechhap, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Makawanpur, Sindhuli and Okhaldhunga. Combined, over five million people reside in these districts.

Following the initial earthquake, and amid ongoing emergency relief efforts, Nepal was struck by a major aftershock on the 12th of May 2015, registering a magnitude of 7.4 on the Richter scale. According to government estimates, the earthquakes combined caused over 8,790 casualties and 22,300 injuries, and left over 500,000 houses and hundreds of historical and cultural monuments destroyed. It is estimated that the earthquakes affected the lives of approximately eight million people, almost one-third of the population of Nepal.

In response to this, REACH facilitated a joint food security assessment in collaboration with the food security cluster and a range of partners which included the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Early Recovery Cluster, the Nepali Red Cross and the Government of Nepal in 11 of the severely affected districts. The assessment was conducted over the course of September and October 2015, and was designed both as a monitoring exercise and to further inform broader early recovery efforts identified as priorities in the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment, including food security, livelihoods, agriculture, service access and protection.

The key findings identified that more than a third (37.3%) of households were reportedly hosting vulnerable individuals. In terms of food security, market availability of food items has generally increased since May, seeing more than 90% of surveyed households reporting increased availability of cereals, pulses, vegetables and oil in their nearest food market. However, an estimated 78.9% of households reported holding debt, with a quarter of all outstanding debt being accumulated in the six months following the earthquake. In terms of protection, 38.9% of the households surveyed reported that they did not possess citizenship and/or identification documentation, potentially due to loss or damage as a result of the earthquake.

Overall, this assessment provided crucial information for the planning and implementation of early-recovery efforts by a large variety of partners. Crucial to the success of this assessment has also been the active involvement of a variety of partners in the assessment design, implementation and analysis, including UN Agencies, the Nepali Government and NGOs. The involvement of all key responders throughout the process has ensured a strong ownership over the assessment findings and a thorough integration of assessment results in the cluster- and organisation-specific planning of future responses in Nepal.

Read the complete Joint Assessment of Food Security, Livelihoods, and Early Recovery report.

Image: Rice harvest in Gorkha, ©FAO, 2015

Somalia: Rapid needs assessment conducted to help inform response to flood-affected communities in Middle Shabelle

In October 2015, the Middle Shabelle area of Somalia was severely affected by flooding caused by the Deyr seasonal rains. An estimated 4,899 households were reportedly affected by river floods and approximately 5,406 households by flash floods. This not only adversely affected livelihoods but also brought about displacement to nearby communities. In terms of livelihood, health along with water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) emerged as immediate primary concerns with response being largely limited to responding to breakages through bag provision, canal digging and river embankment although some preparedness training and awareness messages have also been reported.

In general, up-to-date information remains limited and siloed, which has furthered the need for an inclusive assessment in the area. In this context, through expressed interest from the Inter-Cluster Coordinating Group (ICCG) and upon a trigger request by the WASH Cluster, OCHA requested REACH to initiate a Somalia Initial Rapid Needs Assessment (SIRNA) for the Deyr 2015 related flood-affected areas in Middle Shabelle, Somalia. Facilitated by REACH, and funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the SIRNA was rolled out in 14 communities in the most affected areas – Balcad, Jowhar and Mahaday Town areas – between 9 and 12 November 2015.

The assessment clearly demonstrated that the affected communities are in need of humanitarian intervention with several areas demonstrating high levels of vulnerability that appear to have been exacerbated by flooding. However, flooding has caused only limited and highly localized displacement; most households surveyed were within their home community, either in settlements or with other host community members and only 9% of those surveyed were internally displaced persons from elsewhere. Findings also revealed limited immediate access to health services, although secondary data suggests that the issue may have been with awareness of health facilities in surrounding areas rather than actual availability. Moreover, issues were widely reported in terms of water quality and quantity and 85% of households reported having less than 10 litres of water per person, per day. Lastly, all school facilities assessed in the target communities had experienced some level of damage as a result of the flooding.

The overall purpose of this assessment was to inform response within the communities most impacted by both types of floods – riverine and flash flooding- in Middle Shabelle. Additionally, findings may also improve general understanding of displacement trends although this was not a central feature of the assessment.

 Image: An area affected by the 2015 Deyr floods in Middle Shabelle, October 2015

Read the completeSomalia Initial Rapid Needs Assessment report.

Also available: Individual factsheets summarizing findings from Balcad, Jowhar and Mahaday town areas.

Recent REACH assessment identifies priority winterisation needs in Syria

Throughout Syria, people are bracing themselves for winter while continuing to deal with the effects of protracted conflict, such as damaged infrastructure and limited access to essential services. The crisis, which is now entering its fifth year, has left 13.5 million people in need of assistance inside the country, including more than 5.6 million children. In light of this, in October 2015 REACH conducted an assessment to identify priority needs for the coming winter, as well as highlight gaps in the humanitarian assistance provided last year.

The assessment used REACH’s Area of Origin network to gather community-level information from Key Informants currently residing inside Syria. The assessment found fuel, winter clothing and blankets to be the top priority needs as reported by 90%, 81% and 72% of assessed villages respectively. The reported prices of winterisation items varied across the country, but were highest in Deir ez Zor, Al Hasakeh, Ar Raqqa and As Sweida governorates. Furthermore, there was a reported lack of collective storage capacity for winter items in Ar Raqqa, Deir ez Zor, Homs, Lattakia and Quneitra governorates. Individual factsheets summarising governorate-level findings are available here.

The assessment also collected data on priority needs and assistance received last winter. Key Informants in 302 villages spread across 13 of the 14 governorates in Syria were asked about the winter assistance received in their village last year, as well as the current capacity of the village to store winter items, the priority needs for the coming winter, and current prices of winter items. Notably, none of the villages assessed in Deir ez Zor governorate reported receiving any form of winter assistance last year. While fuel was the most commonly reported priority need across the country (81% of villages assessed) at the time, only 16% of villages reportedly received fuel assistance; stoves and heaters were reported as priorities in 182 villages, but were reportedly received in only 36. Winter clothing and blankets, however, were reportedly received in 149 and 122 villages respectively, and were identified as priorities in over 200 assessed villages.

Overall, this winterisation assessment provides humanitarian actors with key information needed to deliver assistance based on the needs identified by Syrian residents themselves. This information comes at a crucial time for Syrians in need of life-saving assistance given the imminent winter months.

Image: Families receiving winterisation kits comprising mattresses and blankets in Syria, January 2015 © ECHO (Flickr)