Mali – JIPS – Joint IDP Profiling Service


Following a military coup in Mali in March 2012, rebel groups occupied the three northern regions of Gao, Kidal and Timbuktu. The occupation and military operations to retake the regions led to many thousands of people being displaced both internally and to neighbouring countries such as Burkina Faso, Mauritania and Niger.

In the absence of a comprehensive picture of the internal displacement situation in Mopti, a central region that was hosting large numbers of IDPs, JIPS was asked to support a profiling exercise there in the second half of 2012.

Project overview

The profiling exercise in Mopti was instigated by the Mali protection cluster’s Commission on Population Movement (CMP). It was overseen by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and undertaken by InterSOS and INSTAT, Mali’s national statistics office.

The aim of the exercise was to estimate the size of the displaced population in Mopti, and to collect and analyse information on IDPs’ displacement histories, their socio-demographic profile, assistance and protection needs and future intentions.

Profiling process & support

We undertook a mission to Mali in November 2012 to support the profiling partners in finalising their methodology and data collection tools, and in securing interagency support for the process. Building on the remote support and feedback provided before the mission, the methodology and questionnaires InterSOS and INSTAT had developed were revised and consolidated during extensive technical working sessions.

Recommendations to strengthen CMP’s data collection practices were also agreed in order to establish a more comprehensive picture of the internal displacement situation in Mali. We later supported the INSTAT field team remotely during the data collection phase, and continued to provide support through the analysis and reporting phases of the process.

Impact & lessons learned

As Penelope Muteteli, the UNHCR and protection cluster coordinator, put it: “JIPS helped to clarify the problems with what we were doing and that was of great value: understanding what was being done, what could have been done and what was missing.” Along these lines, the profiling exercise provided several significant findings impacts:

  • It revealed that the number of IDPs in Mopti exercise was significantly lower than the figure previously reported. The main reasons for the disparity were the high mobility of IDPs, who were moving regularly between the north and south of the country, and the authorities’ lack of capacity to keep track of arrivals and departures.
  • It highlighted the need for humanitarian and development organisations working in Mali to improve their communication with IDPs, given that many of those surveyed said they were not aware they were eligible for assistance.
  • The final report was not formally published, but it was widely circulated amongst humanitarian stakeholders to improve their understanding of the displacement situation and inform future interventions.

The exercise also served as a reminder of a number of profiling lessons:

  • Capacity building should be integrated into the process, with methodologies developed in collaboration with the NGOs and other organisations implementing the exercise.
  • A comprehensive approach is required, not only to the content of an exercise but also in terms of its partnerships. The Mali process highlighted the benefits of greater interaction between humanitarian stakeholders to unify methodologies and profiling tools.
  • Clear objectives are vital, and technical support should be provided early in the process to ensure that the methodology developed is appropriate to the context. IDPs’ high mobility meant a different approach might have been more suitable in Mopti. Alda Cappelletti, the profiling coordinator at InterSOS, said: “Perhaps if we can learn something, it’s that we should be a little more flexible to situation changes”.
  • Local stakeholders and knowledge should be used effectively wherever possible to maximise awareness of the profiling exercise and better reach the target community. Cappelletti said: “Utilising local knowledge and technicalities was critical and that is one lesson I would like to record for future exercises.”

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