As part of our research into humanitarian data transparency, we are today launching two country-specific research briefs on Iraq and Bangladesh.
The briefs explore the information needs of humanitarian actors on the ground in Bangladesh and Iraq, and the challenges they face in accessing and using this information. They are based on data collected via an online survey and subsequent interviews undertaken during a field trip to the governorate of Erbil and to the Cox’s Bazar district in August and September 2019. Throughout, our team endeavoured to explore the research and present our findings in a way which is consistent with what we heard from the mouths of those on the ground in Iraq and Bangladesh. the research highlights key challenges around data quality, a lack of data governance and leadership at the field level, and limited data use capacity.
The research briefs focus on four specific areas: 1) publication of funding data using the International Aid Transparency Initiative (IATI) Standard and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Financial Tracking Service (UNOCHA FTS); 2) data collection, analysis, and use; 3) the use and challenges associated with digital platforms, and; 4) data use capacity. Each brief presents our key findings and conclusion, summarised below:
Bangladesh Country Report: a case study of humanitarian data transparency in the Rohingya Crisis
- “Coordinators” need consolidated information, while “Implementers” require more granular management data.
- Financial data is useful across the board, but needs to be transparent as a matter of principle and suit the needs of the actor.
- Structural barriers within the Rohingya response are inhibiting data collection and analysis, undermining quality and use.
- The response has a high level of digitisation, but underlying data quality issues and a lack of guidance are inhibiting the effective use of digital platforms.
- Engagement with data users/producers is required to improve local capacity and ultimately data quality within the response.
The overarching conclusion is that in order to improve data quality issues, the structural challenges acting as barriers to better data collection and use need to be addressed as a matter of urgency. The risks of not addressing these challenges are significant and risks undermining the response as a whole. Overall, ambiguous and insufficient data leadership at the field level is inhibiting data sharing to the extent that individual actors are designing and implementing activities without the data they need to make evidence-based, informed decisions.
Addressing the underlying barriers to better data quality, addressing the challenges posed by poor data governance on the ground and “data leadership” in-country is essential.
The brief is also available in Bangla.
Iraq Country Report: a case study of humanitarian data transparency from Erbil, northern Iraq
- Information use and need depends on the role and responsibilities an organisation plays in the response.
- Financial data is more useful to those organisations coordinating the response, but data quality needs to be addressed urgently.
- Data collection, analysis and use are inhibited by ineffective data coordination, while actors seek better quality and more comprehensive datasets.
- Platform use generally reflects data use, but limited technical understanding and agreement on which to use are hindering their wider uptake as response tools.
- Capacity building needs to form a central pillar of support in order to address the structural issues inhibiting access to and use of quality data.
The response in Iraq has been rather successful in what it has accomplished in terms of data management compared to other similar crisis contexts, but the findings presented in this research brief highlight a number of issues which still need addressing to further improve data use. Ineffective data sharing and inconsistent guidance around data sensitivity risk creating data gaps and hindering access to information that organisations in the response need to make evidence-based decisions. A lack of funding explicitly for information management officers and needs assessments risks the collection of poor quality data on which the response is built. This is especially the case as development activities take a greater precedent. Further practical steps, such as sharing data collection methodologies or increasing funding for local NGOs would help address issues around capacity and resource gaps at the field level, which in their current form, are acting as barriers to improving data quality and information exchange. While this research brief outlines the key challenges facing actors on the ground with regards to data, two cross-cutting issues first need to be addressed: engagement and coordination.