Data, displacement and food security

Dear Colleagues,

Last month, the President of the World Bank Group, David Malpass, came to Copenhagen to attend the Nordic Baltic Governors Meeting and to visit the Joint Data Center. At the meeting, he stated that “the ripple effects of the war (in Ukraine), in part through the price spikes in food, fertilizer, and energy, are impacting the most vulnerable, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.” These places host the majority of the world’s forcibly displaced; those who may bear the brunt of escalating food prices.

This month, the JDC literature review includes two studies on the effect that large movements of forced displacement can have on food security. Specifically, how food prices were affected by the arrival of Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh and the food security of host communities in Nigeria in the wake of internal displacement. Unsurprisingly, both of the studies found that inflows of displacement can increase the price of food in host communities. As noted in the Rohingya study “an increase in food prices would have a detrimental impact on the welfare of the host region population in the short run, which is bound to increase resentment against refugees in host communities.”

At the same time, preparedness and well-targeted programs can help prevent and alleviate this. The Nigerian study recommends greater preparedness through early warning systems, rapid needs assessments and budgetary provisions, as well as ‘more understanding of the demographics of displaced populations’ – which boils down to more and better socioeconomic data.

A few days after the World Bank President’s visit, UNHCR released the Global Trends Report on Forced Displacement; the most holistic analysis compiled on population statistics in forced displacement and statelessness situations annually. As the volume of research and analysis on forced displacement grows, this work needs a solid foundation of data to draw from and that is something that the JDC is working towards. In this regard, there is good news.

In March 2020, the Expert Group on Refugee, IDP and Statelessness Statistics (EGRISS) published the International Recommendations on Internally Displaced Persons Statistics (IRIS). These recommendations are for countries and international organizations to improve the production, overall quality, coordination, and dissemination of statistics on IDPs. EGRISS has now expanded its work to include stateless people, who are often at risk of being excluded from national and international policy. One of the best ways to ensure their inclusion and help them access the services they need is through socioeconomic data. The JDC supports EGRISS with funding and technical expertise to implement the international recommendations.

As forced displacement increases, the JDC is working at every level to improve the quality and quantity of data and evidence about these populations, and to make this information available so that host governments and the development and humanitarian communities can better meet the needs of affected populations.

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 Melany Markham ([email protected]), Zara Sarzin ([email protected]) or Maja Lazić ([email protected]) directly.


Yours sincerely,

Maja Lazić

Deputy Head of the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement