Geospatial data on forced displacement

This tool will allows users to extract and analyze the information from a comprehensive body of documents published by the Multilateral Development Banks, allowing project managers and researchers to easily access information and for gaps in this knowledge repository to be identified.

13 Jul, 2023

Overall objectives

The goal of the activity is to improve and standardize the collection of certain foundational datasets in FDP settings, and to demonstrate the application in four different geographic settings. Based on these activities, there are two distinct clients and outcomes:

  • Internal (World Bank, JDC, UNHCR) – develop a framework for assessing data quality when approaching new refugee and IDP situations. This framework will be public, but the focus will be on improving the data used in assessing these situations by World Bank staff.
  • External – Systematically improve data in refugee settings in a public entity; principally OpenStreetMap, but other platforms will be considered. Beyond data creation and curation, it is hoped to produce guidelines for other organizations to improve similar datasets in other situations.

Activity description

The objective of this activity is to identify, document, and fill data gaps leveraging geospatial technologies in a series of IDP and refugee settings. It is planned to collect, catalog, curate and make these data available via relevant platforms to the Joint Data Center to support the current data collection efforts as well as to the national statistical offices and relevant stakeholders working in these contexts. While the research aspect of the program may be broader, data collection and data improvement will focus on physical infrastructure that can be identified in satellite imagery. The main activities proposed include:

  1. Review and fill the data gaps for four FDP settings (two refugee and two IDP) potential locations include Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, South Sudan, Bangladesh, and Peru/Ecuador.
  2. Acquire priority satellite imagery from commercial providers during and in the immediate aftermath of a local crisis affecting refugees or IDPs or for events contributing to an increase in internally displaced persons for which data collection would not otherwise occur via the UN charter. The focus will be on the procurement of high-resolution optical imagery, commercial synthetic aperture radar imagery, or potentially medium resolution satellite imagery with a high temporal return.

Engagement with partners

While the World Bank will be the primary implementor, outreach will be conducted to partners and key stakeholders, for consultation and where possible, to build synergies. Specifically, outreach will be conducted to partners focused on delivering solutions in FDP settings in order to better understand what data they use and define their data needs. Some of these include:

  • UNOSAT are an important resource for UN activities leveraging satellite imagery, and are a longstanding partner of the World Bank’s Geospatial Operational Support Team
  • UNHCR GDS are developing a portal called eSite aiming to incorporate all UNHCR and partner data in a single space around the unifying aspect of location. This will be investigated as an option for dissemination of data and knowledge.
  • UNOCHA and UNHCR will also be critical in researching the analytical requirements.

Background and Context

The need for timely and accurate information about population, infrastructure, public services, and environmental factors is core for planning and policy intervention; this is even more relevant in the face of COVID-19 as change accelerates, and traditional data collection methods fall apart. The collection and use of this information are extremely useful for humanitarian and development operations working to improve the lives of people affected by forced displacement as it can inform policy interventions that aim to improve the livelihoods for these vulnerable groups. While many organizations have made use of such data; it is often not collected, evaluated, or curated in a systematic manner, making project initiation, assessment, and implementation difficult.


For further details on this activity, please contact:

Harriet Mugera – [email protected]

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