More than 65 million people have been forced to flee their homes — some making perilous journeys across borders and oceans — all to escape conflict, persecution, or natural disasters. It’s a global crisis, and that’s why we focus our attention on these individuals today, World Refugee Day. We want to shine a light on one of the biggest barriers to addressing humanitarian needs — a crisis of data.
Why did we create a new tool — MOVEMENT?
With more than 152 million people in need of humanitarian support, and global appeals less than one-third funded, there are massive gaps in what can be delivered. But in trying to dig into the data to find out where exactly funding is going, where the biggest gaps are, and what more is needed, it’s almost impossible to find out.
As advocates, we rely on data to make the case for increased resources, and to hold leaders accountable for what they’ve pledged. Yet after a year of exploring data, meeting with partners and implementing organisations, and surveying existing efforts, we have determined that the humanitarian data architecture is too fragmented and siloed. Resources can’t be tracked to results in real-time, and stakeholders can’t tell if essential services for refugees and displaced populations are being efficiently delivered. There needs to be one place where data on people’s movements, needs and funding levels are brought together to form a complete picture of humanitarian need and support and it needs to be regularly updated in real time.
What can we see with the data?
ONE’s initial efforts have led us to create a unique interactive tool, MOVEMENT, that allows users to explore country-level displacement data in a way that hasn’t been done before. MOVEMENT makes existing datasets more accessible and comparable, to show through relatable metrics where displaced people are today, what the greatest humanitarian needs are globally, and where humanitarian aid flows align—or do not—with those places of greatest need. It also illustrates how fragile states bear the brunt of all the above.
While there are still huge challenges with a lack of detailed, subnational data, we can see already key trends from MOVEMENT, like the fact that the majority of displaced people are hosted in the world’s most fragile countries; and that global humanitarian appeals are grossly underfunded in some of the countries that need the most help.
Rather than replicate ongoing efforts, ONE’s work in creating MOVEMENT supports others’ efforts by advocating for greater investments and attention to humanitarian data systems.
MOVEMENT is a useful tool, but it is only a first step. Numerous data challenges remain. Steps towards standardising data collection, reporting, and publishing are in progress—and must be supported – like UNOCHA’s work on standardising the humanitarian data cycle (.hpc). Data architecture must be implementable, built as frameworks that provide standardisation across data sets without compromising flexibility or incurring significant operational overhead.
Building on the gaps outlined in MOVEMENT, we hope that ONE can call greater attention to the limits of humanitarian data and catalyse the efforts to improve data management, by advocating for greater resources for data infrastructure and greater commitment to data transparency.