Data for What? Evidence-driven policymaking

Dear Colleagues,

The third World Statistics Day, organized under the guidance of the United Nations Statistical Commission, will be celebrated on October 20. In his letters to Heads of State, the UN Secretary-General highlighted the opportunity to use the “World Statistics Day to spotlight the role of statistics in advancing sustainable development for all”. The event raises awareness on importance of trust, authoritative data, innovation and the public good in national statistical systems.

The role of data in policymaking was at the center of the last seminar organized by the JDC, under the title “Data for what? A conversation with policymakers and practitioners on the use of evidence and data on forced displacement”. At the event it was said that “Data is the new oil”. The seminar featured the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees, Ms. Kelly Clements, Ms. Benu Bidani, Manager at the World Bank, and two academics from important African institutions: Professors Kennedy Bindu, Université Libre des Pays des Grands Lacs (Democratic Republic of Congo), and Peter Kagwanja, from the African Policy Institute (Kenya). This seminar is JDC’s contribution to the UN World Data Forum. The recording of the seminar will be available on the Forum’s platform from October 12. The message that emerged from the conversation was clear: timely collected data can inform policymaking over a multiplicity of dimensions, spanning from education to protection and health. In turn, this can effectively shape the life trajectories of vulnerable individuals and their families.

International organizations have long recognized the importance of data and have multiplied their efforts in collecting and analyzing timely evidence. One such initiative is the UNHCR’s Microdata Library, which contains microdata on persons of concern to UNHCR including refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced persons (IDPs), stateless people and others. Datasets include comprehensive metadata and supporting documents such as reports and survey questionnaires which facilitate their use by analysts and researchers. October’s data release features 24 datasets from 19 countries. Relevant data includes studies on the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 in Lebanon, Kenya and Zambia, a 10-country series on protection monitoring in the Americas; profiling of IDPs in the Philippines, and vulnerability assessments for Syrian and non-Syrian refugees in Lebanon. At the JDC, we are proud to lend our support to the creation and populating of the Library.

The papers included in this month’s Literature Review Update highlight another fundamental role of data on forced displacement: they allow researchers unveil the true contributions of those forcibly displaced to the socio-economic development of the areas where they reside. Many of the summarized papers show the existence of positive effects arising from the interactions between displaced people and members of the host communities. Importantly these effects emerge in countries belonging to different regions, such as the Middle East or East Africa.

We invite you to help us produce Updates and Newsletters that respond to your needs. You can do so by answering this anonymous survey with which we aim to collect your views and suggestions for forthcoming knowledge sharing efforts.

Finally, we would like to remind you that the deadline for submitting papers or extended abstract to the JDC 2nd Research Conference on Forced Displacement is October 31.

As always, please do not hesitate to share any additional feedback on the Literature Review Updates and the Newsletter either to Zara on [email protected] or myself on [email protected].


Yours sincerely,

Björn Gillsäter
Head of the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement