The DTM information management system collects data through an extended network of key informants and regular field visits carried out by the RARTs. The system is aimed at identifying and verifying IDP locations, numbers and other profiling characteristics.

The DTM information management system is articulated in four components which collect information on numbers, locations and selected characteristics of the IDP and returnee populations throughout Iraq to respond to the humanitarian community’s information needs. The four components have different time frames, population and geographic units of reference.

The four components are:

  • IDP and Returnee Master Lists
  • Location Assessment
  • Safety Audit
  • Emergency Tracking
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1. IDPs and Returnees Master Lists

The IDP and Returnees Master Lists collect information on numbers and locations of IDP and returnee families through an ongoing data collection system that identifies and routinely updates figures through contacts with key informants. The unit of observation is the location.

Master Lists are fully updated in one calendar month, which means that information on all locations is updated once a month. In two weeks, approximately 50% of the locations are updated, data is sent to the IOM Information Management Unit, and the dataset with partial updates is released after quality control, while the teams continue to update information from the remaining locations. By the end of the month, the update is complete and the DTM report is published with fully updated information on IDPs and returnees.

Core information routinely collected is:

  • Geographical (governorate, district, sub-district, location and GPS coordinates of the place of displacement/return where the population is identified).
  • Governorate of origin for IDPs, and governorate of last displacement for returnees.
  • Wave of displacement (the DTM conventionally identifies six displacement waves or periods: pre-June 2014; June-July 2014; August 2014; post-September 2014; Post April 2015; and Post March 2016 onwards).
  • Shelter type (the DTM identifies four shelter category: Camps; critical shelter arrangements (informal settlements, religious buildings, schools; unfinished or abandoned buildings; and other formal settlements/ collective centers); private dwellings (host communities, rented houses, and hotels/motels); and unknown (applies to locations not accessible when the shelter type cannot be identified). DTM Shelter types definitions can be found here.

The DTM Master lists also collect additional operational information:

  • Name, position and contact details of the key informant.
  • Status of the update (i.e. new location; old location with updated information weather changed or unchanged; or not assessed in the current round).
  • Date of the update.
  • Location accessibility.
  • Notes from the field.

The Master Lists collects information on the total number of families displaced or returned to a location at the time of data collection, not on new cases. Therefore, at every round of updates, the new count replaces the old count. The new count can be lower/higher than the previous count if the inflow is smaller/bigger than the outflow, or it can be zero if all IDPs/returnees left the place where they were previously identified. Once a location stops hosting IDPs or returnees, the DTM does not track personal IDP movements; that is, if specific families returned home, moved to a different shelter in the same location, or moved to a different location still away from home. Instead, the DTM methodology is designed to regularly monitor and update all IDP locations, thus enabling a continuous countrywide coverage of the main characteristics of the IDP population.

The IDP Master List was launched in December 2013 and the Returnee Master List in April 2015 (although returnee figures have been retroactively reported since October 2014).


2. Location Assessment (IDPs and Returnees)

The Location Assessment collects detailed information on IDP and returnee families living in locations identified through the Master Lists. The unit of reference of this assessment is the location, and information is collected at aggregate level, on the majority of IDPs and returnees living in a given location, and not on individual families.

Identified locations hosting IDPs and/or returnees (or both) are visited and directly assessed by the RARTs, who fill in a close-ended questionnaire with information collected through multiple interviews with several Key Informants and through direct observation.

2.1 Timeframe

At the start of the cycle, the list of locations identified in the Master Lists is given to the field teams and is used as the baseline for the Location Assessment. If new locations are identified during the assessment implementation, they are not included in the baseline and, hence, are not subject to assessment. It takes approximately three months to assess all locations identified at the beginning of the data collection cycle. This process is periodically carried out using the most up-to-date Master Lists as baselines.

2.2 Coverage

The reported coverage refers to the number of locations assessed versus the baseline. Consequently, this geographical coverage does not aim to take into account the number of families living in the locations, because this number is fluid and can change between the date of the baseline and the date of the assessment.

2.3 Data collection and quality control

In addition to the direct observation of the location, IOM’s RARTs are instructed to interview several key informants (including members of the IDP and Returnee community) to get a comprehensive understanding of the situation in each location, and to cross-verify the information obtained. At the end of the key informant interviews, RARTs fill one (ODK) form with the summary of the information collected, and the data is then uploaded to the server and stored as one assessment. The system automatically performs quality checks and assigns a credibility score to the assessment based on four questions answered by the RARTs on the quality and consistency of the information collected (click here to download the detailed methodology).

2.4 Information collected through Location Assessments

Although there are different questions targeted to IDPs and returnees separately, information routinely collected by the Location Assessment is:

  • Geographical information (governorate, district, sub district, location, and GPS coordinates of the place where the population is assessed).
  • Governorate of origin.
  • Wave/period of displacement.
  • Shelter type.
  • Reasons of displacement.
  • Future intentions.
  • Feeling of safety and security and common security incidents.
  • Feeling of safety and security and common security incidents.
  • SADD (Sex & Age Disaggregated Data).
2.5 Sex and age disaggregated data (SADD)

Sex and age disaggregated data (SADD) is collected on a random sample of 30 families of each group (IDPs and/or returnees or both) in each location. Age data is collected and aggregated into five-year age groups (0-5; 6-14; 15-24; 25-29; 60 and above). The 30 families are sampled randomly from the lists made available by the local authorities or by the representatives of the site (in the cases of a single site). To obtain the overall number of individuals in each sex and age group in a given location, the percentage distribution of individuals in each sex and age group is calculated and re-proportioned against the total number of individuals living in one location, i.e. the percentage of IDP individuals in each sex and age group is multiplied by the total number of IDP individuals in the location. Numbers are aggregated to represent sex and age figures at the district or governorate level. The precision of these estimates is variable: the higher the number of IDPs in a location, the less precise the estimates are. The precision decreases considerably when numbers are added up at a district or governorate level. Therefore, these numbers must be read with caution, taking into account the way they were collected and aggregated for analysis by the DTM.

2.6 Protection indicators in the Location Assessments

As part of a global initiative supported by several donors, IOM has enhanced the type of data collected by the DTM to include protection indicators in order to provide a more holistic picture of displacement and its consequences on the affected population. DTM Iraq, with support from SIDA and PRM, has engaged with protection actors to redesign data collection tools to include specific indicators informing GBV and protection risks, in particular, in relation to site layout and infrastructure, security, priority legal needs, protection issues, child protection concerns, women’s knowledge about the availability of GBV services in camps and camp-like settings and their active participation in the provision of such services. By incorporating these indicators, the DTM tools allow for the identification of protection issues, thereby ensuring that humanitarian actors are well informed of the vulnerabilities and most pressing protection needs of the displaced populations in Iraq.


3. Safety Audit

As part of the DTM global initiative to enhance gender mainstreaming in its data management systems, IOM Iraq deployed a site-level assessment called Safety Audit. Aligned with Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines, the Safety Audit evaluates site-level gender-based violence (GBV) risks associated to site layout and infrastructure, security, women’s participation; and availability of protection services in informal settings across Iraq. In particular, the following information is collected:

  • Shelter and dwelling structure and layout.
  • Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene facilities and services.
  • Safety and security of the site.
  • Safety and security of the site.
  • Access to services.

The sectorial indicators and GBV risk scoring system of the Safety Audit has been defined in consultation with relevant protection stakeholders, led by the GBV Sub-Cluster and Child Protection Sub-Cluster, and further validated with operational actors, including the Camp Coordination, Camp Management (CCCM), Shelter, and the Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) Clusters in Iraq.

The Safety Audit is conducted in informal settlements hosting five or more families across Iraq. Safety Audit data is collected through the RART’s direct observation and is validated through consultation with key informants during the site visits. The teams collect the data and photos of identified concerns through ODK form.

In order to ensure that GBV risks data could effectively inform operational response, DTM has signed Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) with the GBV sub cluster in order to map referral pathways and data sharing processes across service providers. Furthermore, the SOPs detail levels of data sensitivity, data protection policies, and facilitate continuous collaboration to ensure capacity for protection-enhanced data collection. DTM also has SOPs with the Protection and Child Protection clusters and ensures coordination with them regularly on its different tools.

Safety Audit Round I was conducted from Oct - Dec 2016

More information on Safety Audit Round II: Feb - March 2017
4. Emergency Tracking

Activated on an ad hoc basis, the DTM Emergency Tracking provides early field reports at the beginning of a complex crisis, allowing IOM to gather, consolidate and disseminate baseline information on displacement and return figures at the onset of a newly emerging crisis. The DTM Emergency Tracking relies heavily on information provided by RARTs or partners within the humanitarian community about an unfolding situation. The Emergency Tracking gathers data through IOM Iraq’s extended network of key informants, who provide basic information on the new displacement, be it of IDPs or returnees, or both, including numbers, location and shelter types. While IOM DTM strives to provide best estimates, the Emergency Tracking aims to be a quick monitoring tool with real-time data turnover ranging from 24 to 72 hours following its activation. As displaced population movements are highly fluid, these emergency early reports require continuous verifications through multiple sources and data triangulation. Eventually, the DTM Emergency Tracking data feeds into the displacement data within the two-week DTM Master Lists reporting cycle and, therefore, data will be later verified and assessed through other components of the DTM methodology.


Reference population

The DTM Iraq collects information on people displaced after December 2013, that is, of ISIS-induced displacement. As such, the DTM collects data on IDPs and returnees, defined as:

IDPs: According to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are “persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border.” (United Nations, 1998). DTM considers IDPs all those who have fled from their original home and are living in a different settlement situated in a different location.

Returnees:All those previously displaced since January 2014 who return to their sub-district of origin, irrespective of whether they have returned to their former residence or to another shelter type. The definition of returnees is not related to the criteria of returning in safety and dignity, nor with a defined strategy of durable solution.


Geographic reference

The unit of reference or the observation unit in the Master Lists and Location Assessment is the location and, thus, data collection takes place at the location level. A location is defined as a camp, a village in rural areas or a quarter (neighbourhood) in urban areas.

Locations’ boundaries are determined on the basis of key informants and RARTs’ knowledge and evaluation. When the teams identify a new location where IDPs are living or returnees have returned, the location is added to the database and a unique identifier (PLACE_ID) is created and assigned. When available, location entries from the OCHA’s COD database are used. If one location no longer hosts IDPs, the number of families living in the areas and all the other attributes are zeroed; the record is kept in the database as an inactive location that used to host IDPs —and no longer does so.

The Safety Audit collects data at the site level. The unit of reference or the observation unit in the Safety Audit is the site, i.e. one record corresponds to one site. A site is defined as an informal shelter setting with five families or more.


Technical specifications

The DTM data collection process has been designed so as to have a robust database system to collect data from RARTs on the field, to store it directly in the database server and to manage and query data to develop reports and other information products. Strong data quality control, fieldwork monitoring system, data processing and real-time data-sharing mechanisms have been developed to automate and speed up different DTM data updates.

For its Location Assessment, the DTM Iraq is implementing mobile data (ODK) solutions to enable a more efficient paper-to-digital process. By effectively using conditional features and secured Internet connections for sending data from the field to the DTM database server, data quality is improved, and the process of data collection and analysis is more efficient.

The DTM Iraq collects information from the field based on a continuous assessment of the security situation. Depending on the possibility to access locations, field teams adapt and use the most appropriate means to collect and transfer data, whether paper-based, offline or online ODK.

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