For better policy, we need to start by filling the gaps in knowledge


Dear JDC Newsletter subscriber,

In previous issues of this publication, I have talked about the dramatic increase in data-driven research on forced displacement over the last decade. While this is encouraging to see, the question that has concerned me more and more recently is – How do we make this research relevant to policy makers and practitioners?

At the JDC, we will focus on this question as we approach our second mandate, which will begin in 2024. Our intentions are detailed in the JDC’s Knowledge Agenda, which was presented to our Management Committee last month. The Knowledge Agenda aims to help fill the gaps in knowledge on forced displacement.

The ultimate goal of the Agenda is to ensure that data and research on forced displacement leads to more effective policy and programs, and better outcomes for refugees, internally displaced people, stateless people, and their hosts. This is probably already happening, but the path from research to policy is not always clear. So, to help identify the pathways, we have commissioned a study, commencing early next year, that will trace the influence that data and analysis has had on national policy on forcibly displaced populations in Kenya.

The JDC is obviously not alone in this endeavor. Over the last six years, Paolo Verme at the World Bank has nurtured a significant body of research under the Building Evidence on Forced Displacement program. A partnership between the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), the UNHCR, and the World Bank, the program tackles the main global research questions on forced displacement and measures the effectiveness of programs that target them (impact evaluations). Some of the research from this program is included in this month’s Literature Review.

But impact can have a meaning beyond an assessment of a program’s effectiveness. What about the impact that a large movement of forcibly displaced people has on host populations? These are multiple and are the subject of some of the other papers that are included in this month’s Literature Review Update. A study published in 2021, concluded that the presence of refugees in Tanzania reduced the incidence of child labor, albeit in the short-term. Another study showed that the arrival of 3.4 million refugees in Türkiye could have had a negative effect on native mortality, were it not for an increase in nurses, pediatricians and hospital beds, a result of Turkish Government policy.

This is the ‘holy grail’ of data-driven research – capturing policy outcomes that we can learn from and applying lessons that benefit displaced people and the communities that host them.

We hope you find the Newsletter and Literature Review helpful. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with any comments, questions or suggestions, to either myself or to Melany Markham ([email protected]).

Yours sincerely,

Björn Gillsäter

Head of the Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement