Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – JIPS – Joint IDP Profiling Service

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

Decades of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have displaced millions of people, particularly in the east of the country. Chronic political instability, ongoing conflict and the cyclical nature of displacement have left many IDPs highly vulnerable and unable to achieve durable solutions.

In order to better understand the complex displacement situation in DRC and establish an evidence base for more effective humanitarian and development interventions, JIPS has supported four profiling initiatives focused on eastern areas of the country as follows:

  • Establishing agreed-upon evidence about displacement in North Kivu (2010)
  • Tracking complex displacement patterns in DRC (2012)
  • Profiling urban IDPs and their host communities in Goma (2014)
  • Profiling in conflict-affected areas of eastern DRC (2015)

Project Overview

Profiling in conflict-affected areas of eastern DRC (2015)
The displacement situation in eastern DRC is complex, with multiple and pendular population movements, both long and short-term. The environment makes planning responses challenging, particularly given the fact that little information is available on the living conditions and protection concerns of populations affected by displacement, or their intentions and prospects in terms of durable solutions.

In order to establish an evidence base to inform longer-term operational planning, partners led by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) decided to undertake a joint profiling exercise in North and South Kivu, and reached out to JIPS for support.

Profiling process & JIPS’ support

We conducted a scoping mission to DRC in July 2015, which focused on supporting the profiling partners in outlining a collaborative process. Our team travelled to Kinshasa, Bukavu and Goma and met partners including government entities and humanitarian and development organisations at both the national and provincial level.

Opportunities were identified and stakeholders’ interest secured for a collaborative profiling exercise in the Kivus, potentially to be rolled out in other provinces affected by displacement. The work did not move forward as planned in 2015, although many parts of the recommendations still remain relevant.

Impact & lessons learned

The scoping mission resulted in three detailed proposals and recommendations, to:

  1. Undertake an in-depth comparative analysis of the target populations in the Kivus;
  2. Build on existing systems to explore and strengthen population estimates and the analysis of movement trends in different regions;
  3. Explore the possibility of capturing displacement in the planned national census.

The UN Humanitarian Country Team reviewed our recommendations, but did not find agreement on a way forward.

Project overview

Profiling urban IDPs and their host communities in Goma (2014)
The urban population of Goma, the capital of North Kivu province, grew by an estimated 45% during 2012 and 2013. The arrival of displaced people in the city was thought to have contributed to this growth. There was, however, little information to corroborate this, or to inform humanitarian and development interventions for those affected.

In order to establish an evidence base on the displacement situation in Goma, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) initiated a multi-sector profiling exercise and needs assessment of urban IDPs and host families in 2014. The initiative aimed to:

  • Provide a snapshot of the living conditions of urban IDPs and host families, and compare them with those of other local residents
  • Provide the humanitarian community and government with information to raise the profile of urban IDPs
  • Stimulate debate on interventions in urban areas
  • Inform the development of an integrated programme response

Profiling process & JIPS’ support

The NRC team followed guidance made available in the JIPS Essential Toolkit (JET) and adjusted the template tools for the Goma context. The questionnaire, for example, was extended and adapted to include more targeted questions on shelter, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and social capital.

We were not involved in the exercise from the outset, but our support was requested in the data analysis and reporting phases of the process. In collaboration with Statistics Norway, we supported the data analysis and also provided remote support for the finalisation of the report and its dissemination.

Impact & lessons learned

The final report was launched in August 2014 and provided the humanitarian and development community in Goma with recommendations on how to meet IDPs’ immediate needs and support them in pursuing durable solutions. NRC also used the results to develop an integrated urban programme response in the city. The exercise also had a number of other tangible impacts:

  • The results increased knowledge of IDPs’ living conditions in Goma, and helped to identify information gaps and areas for further analysis. It also helped to better identify the challenges and opportunities vulnerable displaced families face.
  • Based on the most urgent needs the exercise identified, NRC established a mobile-phone case transfer system to provide IDPs and host families with access to basic services.
  • NRC used the findings in its work with community-based organisations to ensure IDPs’ inclusion and empowerment and to develop a collaborative discussion forum with authorities and host communities.
  • The findings helped to promote debate and encourage collaboration between local authorities, the national government, UN agencies and NGOs in responding to urban displacement in Goma.

It also a yielded a number of lessons learned:

  • Encouraging partners’ buy-in and collaboration helps to fill knowledge and information gaps, and to avoid duplication in data collection efforts.
  • The planning phase of an exercise needs to allow enough time for local adaptation, including the translation of survey questions into local languages.
  • The use of smartphones for data collection led to fewer errors, but also required more time for testing the system and training the data collectors.
  • Working with a local partner, in this case the Free University of the Great Lakes Countries, proved invaluable in designing the process and accessing otherwise hard-to-reach populations.
  • The Goma study was based on interviewees’ self-identification as IDPs. Verification questions should have been included for a more solid analysis.

Project overview

Tracking complex displacement patterns in DRC (2012)
Given the lack of information on the complex displacement situation in DRC, UNHCR, UNFPA, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the UN Office for Project Services (UNOPS) requested our support in 2012 in setting up a profiling exercise to track movement patterns of the population.

Profiling process & JIPS’ support

We conducted a scoping mission to Kinshasa in June and July 2012, during which the parameters of the undertaking were established through a series of consultations and technical working sessions with the participating UN agencies and DRC’s national statistics bureau.

A profiling methodology in three phases was developed and endorsed as follows:

  1. Identify the number of displaced households living in camps, sites, urban centres and villages in the provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, Orientale and Katanga, to provide partners with a detailed list of the number and location of IDPs.
  2. Conduct surveys targeting 3,200 displaced households across the four provinces to provide data disaggregated by sex and age covering IDPs’ sociodemographic composition, history of displacement, access to services, livelihoods, family unity, security and their intentions and prospects in terms of durable solutions.
  3. Track further population movements, building upon this baseline, through continuous data collection to capture information about new, secondary and repeated displacements.

Impact & lessons learned

Despite these achievements, implementation was abandoned because of funding limitations linked to the escalation of the conflict in Syria. The methodology developed and experiences acquired through this exercise nevertheless informed the subsequent support request and engagement in eastern DRC (2015).

Project Overview

Establishing agreed-upon evidence about displacement in North Kivu (2010)
More than half of the IDPs in North Kivu were thought to be living in Lubero territory as of 2010, but this assumption was made based on a variety of unreliable data sources.

To improve the quality of information on IDPs living with host families and establish a shared understanding of the displacement situation, requested our support in planning and implementing a profiling exercise.


Profiling process & JIPS’ support

We supported the profiling partners at all stages of the process, from establishing the objectives, limitations and a collaborative platform for the exercise through designing the methodology and tools to data collection, analysis and reporting.

Impact & lessons learned

The profiling exercise had a number of tangible impacts:

  • The profiling results were used widely by a number of agencies, including UNFPA, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI), Handicap International and academic institutions, for their planning. Martin Blaise Bekono, a demographer and the profiling coordinator for the exercise, said: “After completing the exercise many organisations became interested. Upon request, we provided information that was used for specific programming purposes.” OCHA used the results to include disaggregated figures for DRC’s displaced population in its for the first time.
  • The exercise highlighted the importance of improving security in return areas, and of approaching programming from a community development point of view rather than a purely humanitarian one. As Bekono put it: “Statistics got NGOs, UN agencies, academia and funding mechanisms to all look in the same direction.”

The exercise also yielded a number of lessons learned:

  • Conducting research in displacement situations can be fraught with challenges, including restricted access because of security concerns and the availability of financial, human and material resources.
  • The prospect of receiving humanitarian aid means people may be encouraged to bias the information they give in their favour, meaning that special care is needed not to overestimate the number of IDPs.
  • It is vital to sensitise and inform the target populations about a profiling exercise before embarking on data collection.
  • Interviewers should be well trained and prepared, in this case to mitigate negative attitudes from many respondents based on their perception of humanitarian surveyors in the area.

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