DRC: Crisis Observatory and Household-Forced Displacement Survey in Eastern DRC


Background and Context

Situations of conflict and fragility require dexterous decision making, which is only effective in the presence of up-to-date information. Without timely and reliable data, humanitarian responses, as well as peace and development interventions risk being built on anecdotal and outdated evidence. The armed conflict in the DRC, notably in its Eastern provinces, has affected around 40 million people, and displaced more than 4.5 million people in the last 10 years. DRC’s Eastern provinces of North Kivu, South Kivu, and Ituri are among the most fragile and conflict-affected, and the recent Ebola outbreak in North Kivu and Ituri, but also COVID across the territory is just one component of the region’s vulnerability. In addition, the Eastern provinces have hosted over 350,000 refugees from South Sudan, Rwanda and Burundi in the last decades. These refugees are in households and are hosted by communities that see very little support from the international community relative to their needs.

Reliable data and analysis in this complex context can help partners make funding decisions that align with needs. Consultations with key actors in the region have elicited the existence of critical data gaps. The last Institut National de la Statistique (INS) household survey was conducted in 2012, data for a Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) was collected in 2013, and a Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) survey was fielded in 2018. Each of these surveys used the 1984 census as sampling frame, resulting in obvious difficulties because of how outdated the census is. Moreover, much of the useable public data collected is ad-hoc and focuses for the most part on health and security. Other data collected more regularly belongs to specific organizations, the Government, or UN agencies and is not always shareable.

Efforts to make data collection in this area more feasible and reliable would enable the analysis of welfare-relevant data that covers Eastern DRC’s population; such data could create time-series, use the same indicators, follow the same individuals/ households over time, and contribute to closing the gap in the current literature on forced displacement and its link to household welfare in Eastern DRC. Contexts experiencing continued and protracted forced (internal) displacement, as in Eastern DRC, are a particularly important space for research.

The DRC Crisis Observatory (DRC CO) was created in late December 2019 and supported through the State and Peacebuilding Fund to make use of traditional and adaptive tools for data collection and monitoring in fragile contexts to collect data at high frequency, sharing data with humanitarian, donor and operational agencies to improve coordination, and informing decision-making for actors across humanitarian, peace and development space.

Prior to JDC funding, the DRC CO responded to the urgent need for high-frequency information to help better understand the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on households’ welfare to foster new, evidence-based responses. For this purpose, the DRC CO used the extensive databases of beneficiaries and the eligible population of the ongoing Eastern DRC Social Protection Program managed by the Fonds Social de la RDC (FSRDC) across Ituri (Bunia) and North Kivu (Goma, Lubero, Beni/Kalunguta) provinces for reaching particularly vulnerable populations living in urban and peri-urban areas.

The support from the JDC will allow the DRC CO to expand the scope of its data collection and policy analysis to explicitly include forcibly displaced populations.

Activity description

The program has two main components: (1) filling critical data gaps through primary data collection in Eastern DRC, and (2) creating an evidence-base for decision making that can improve household welfare, particularly for the forcibly displaced, and that can function as an integrator of high-frequency information to reinforce coordination in the Eastern DRC eco-system along the humanitarian – development nexus. In both components, a special emphasis will be put on building local capacity through partnerships with local research organizations. Specific activities under components 1 and 2 include,

Component 1: Primary Data Collection

  • Function as a coordinator for data collection. Build local capacity to collect quality information in local languages by developing partnerships with faculty and staff at the ULGPL and strengthening call-center training. Encourage development and humanitarian actors to use this resource to procure data that will fill their programming needs.
  • Field a face-to-face household survey on the forcibly displaced and hosts. The household-forced displacement survey has aims to create an evidence base of welfare markers in the context of forced displacement in Eastern DRC, and to expand the pool of phone numbers to initiate a large mobile phone panel survey
  • Build upon the current phone surveys by including displaced populations so as to establish a high-frequency monitoring using the mobile phone panel and other complementary sources.

Component 2: Creating an evidence base for decision-making

  • Produce (high frequency) analytics principally using data collected through the DRC Crisis Observatory, including high frequency phone surveys.
  • Nurture analytic partnerships across the humanitarian-development spectrum, foster rapid learning, and inform ongoing and pipeline interventions.

Overall objectives

The ultimate goal of the DRC CO is to support decision- making and programming of a broad set of stakeholders, including development and humanitarian organizations. In service to that goal, the main purpose of the tools in this package is to frequently collect high quality, affordable information, and to create continuous feedback loops, in the fragile and rapidly evolving context of the Eastern DRC.

The objective of the household-forced displacement survey and the DRC CO in the larger sense is to fill critical information gaps and thus facilitate better collaboration and greater effectiveness between humanitarian and development agencies. The work of the DRC CO will also entail producing analytics at high frequency, collaborating with other humanitarian, development, donor agencies, and ultimately informing World Bank projects and other donors in one of the most complex environments in the world. The DRC CO activates aim to create important evidence on Eastern DRC, and inform development, humanitarian, and donor agencies.

C.  Engagement with partners

The team plans to actively engage the DRC CO and regional UNHCR, UN OCHA and IOM teams, as well as other relevant organizations, in multi-stakeholder consultations. The DRC CO envisions having meetings with stakeholders to assess which data will be most useful to collect and at what frequency. The Observatory will also seek to deeper integration with other development and humanitarian organizations, including by exploring publishing their relevant primary or summary data on the DRC CO data platform. To that end, the DRC CO has reached out to the ICRC, WFP, the Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS) Network, Antrologica and UNICEF. The DRC CO has further partnered with the World Bank’s DRC team regarding real-time monitoring of their ongoing Emergency Workfare Project and a high frequency COVID Survey.

D.   Contact

For further details on this activity, please contact:


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