Improving the availability and accessibility of high-quality socioeconomic data 


Dear colleagues,

When the JDC was established in 2019, expectations were high. The Center was founded with the ambition to transform the way we – the international community – respond to the challenge of forced displacement. The ambition was based on the premise that, with more and better socioeconomic data and evidence, prioritization will be clearer and development policies and programs will become better-targeted.

Some 20 months after the official launch of the Center, we are pleased to see how several of the activities we have funded and supported are leading to very concrete results.Importantly, we can observe progress across all the areas of work, spanning from the strengthening of data systems and including those forcibly displaced in national surveys and systems, to producing and disseminating data and evidence, to enhancing a responsible and safe use of data. Some of these activities are showcased in our first JDC Annual Report, which summarises our work in the period 2019-2020.

The Annual Report also provides an overview of what the Center believes are the existing major data and evidence gaps for those affected by forced displacement, and reflects on the way the Center has worked so far in the pursuit of having these gaps filled. Throughout the Report, “partnership” emerges as a key word to explain the work and the ambition of the JDC. While the Center is a partnership in itself between UNHCR, the World Bank, donors and host countries, it is well-placed to act as a catalyst, convener of stakeholders, and incubator of initiatives that will spur a sustainable change in the socioeconomic data landscape on forced displacement.

New examples of these partnerships have materialized in the past weeks: the JDC is contributing to the PARIS21 Data for Change campaign; and we have embarked on a collaboration with KoBo Inc. to strengthen KoBoToolbox and ensure long-term sustainability of this platform as a free and reliable resource for digital field data collection and analysis.

The continuous rise of the number of people affected by forced displacement, as well as the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, call for rigorous approaches to solutions. We firmly believe that a common understanding based on a trusted and shared set of socioeconomic data – such as the education and skill levels, or income and wealth status of the people concerned – is a precondition for productive collaboration of the actors involved, whether at the country, regional, or global level. These beliefs, and the experience we have accumulated since the launch of the Center inform the JDC Strategy for 2021-2023, which we are pleased to share with you.

The JDC Strategy 2021-2023 lays out a plan for how we will achieve our overarching goals. It is a practical tool that will guide our work and help us prioritize over the next three years. We will continue to proactively identify strategic activities, respond to operational needs, and explore new and innovative opportunities, whether at the country, regional, or global level. Implementing this Strategy will also require a wide partnership approach, including host-country governments as well as the broader humanitarian and development community. We are keen to strengthen this collaboration to firmly bring in the private sector, academia, affected populations, and civil society actors.

The role of data for understanding and interpreting forced displacement is also at the core of this month’s Literature Review Update. The selected papers once again underline the complexity of forced displacement, a phenomenon which affects countries globally and weaves together multiple forms of vulnerability. Socioeconomic disadvantages, gender violence and violence against children, and of course the effects of COVID-19, often compound the difficulties of those affected by forced displacement.

As always, we welcome feedback and suggestions on the Newsletter, for future editions of the Quarterly Digest or papers to be included in the Literature Review Update. Please don’t hesitate to contact Zara Sarzin ([email protected]) or Domenico Tabasso ([email protected]) directly.


Yours sincerely,

Björn Gillsäter

Head of the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement