September 24, 2022

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Researchers urge FG to harmonise data on IDPs

A data and displacement research team from the University of Ibadan has called for the harmonisation of relevant data to address challenges of the Internally Displaced Persons camps in Nigeria.

The suggestions were made during a conference and presentation of report titled, ‘Humanitarian crises and Internally Displaced Persons in Nigeria: A situation analysis’, which ended in Abuja on Wednesday.

The project under the aegis of ‘Data and displacement: Assessing the practical and ethical implementations of targeting humanitarian protection’, was carried out by a University of Ibadan research team led by Dr. Funke Fayehun and Dr. Olayinka Akanle.

Fayehun, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, UI, said there was need to start addressing the lack of coherence in data on IDPs in the country.

She also said there would be the risk of duplication of data having different agencies documenting the same people.

Fayehun, who is the Lead Investigator on the research project, said there was lack of coherence in the management of data on IDP camps in Nigeria, hence the need to work on it.

“Even when you have dataset and is not well coherent because of multiplicity of data from different organisations, the problem of reliability and quality of the data will be a big issue.

“It is going to be difficult for us to start making interventions over data where you have different sources.

“So, what you are seeing from this project is that let there be coherence of systems or structures on IDP data. Let us enhance technological infrastructure in the IDP camps such that data will be accessible and will be easy for people to use.

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“Those are some of the findings and recommendations from this project,” she said.

According to her, if relevant organisations could work together concerning IDPs dataset, stop multiplicity of data sources, they could recommend appropriate interventions for government and the people that benefit from it.

Fayehun said the research project also emphasised the need for data literacy on IDP camps for ethical reasons.

She said there were findings from research project that some people just go to the IDP camps and ask the people questions without taking their consent, follow ethics and international best practice.

“When the displaced persons understand their rights on data use, then they can give correct information,” she said.

The lead investigator also recommended the need for government to set up a structure that would coordinate NGOs and funders and donor agencies, that were key partners in the meeting the needs of IDPs to avoid multiplicity of efforts and unnecessary wastages.

Akanle, in his presentation on the research project, said data ethics and value chain-ecosystem was very important in contexts of humanitarianism and IDPs in Nigeria.

He said the study examined the data targeting processes in the humanitarian sector and other ethical issues.

Speaking on the methodology, for the “Data and displacement project fieldwork: March 2021 –January 2022”, Akanle said in-depth interviews were conducted on 50 IDPs and 20 practitioners/stakeholders in Maiduguri, Borno State, with IDP camps in the state as study area.

A Lead Research Fellow at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, Dr Modesta Alozie, while presenting the recommendations of the report, called for improved coordination of activities, efforts and resources of stakeholders towards providing technological and infrastructural facilities as well as capacities for efficient and ethical data collection, storage and utilisation.

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Alozie also called for awareness among IDPs about processes of data capture, data rights and the benefits of improved information for humanitarian interventions.

“There is also need for organised orientation and sensitisation meetings with the IDPs and stakeholders to support sustainable ethical data processes and systems,” she said.

Osai Ojigho of Amnesty International described the event as an intersection between data and research to see how the issues of internally displaced persons should be on the agenda of development discussions.

Ojigho identified some of the challenges why Nigeria had not been able to address the challenges in the IDP camps.

These, according to her, include complexity of conflicts in Nigeria, access to insecurity affected regions and lack of involvement of the IDPs in decision-making and areas of interventions that should benefit them.

“The other factor is the money. A lot of funds have been expended on providing humanitarian assistance, but we know that this is far little in terms of the enormity of the situation.

“Yes, we take care of the basic needs such as shelter, food, security within the camps. What about getting people to restore themselves to their farmlands to their livelihoods?” she asked.

Ojigho said just dealing with the basic needs of displaced persons was not sufficient enough to return them to their homelands.

“The fact that the insecurity, particularly in the North-East, has continued to ravage till date, in spite of over 10 years of intervention in those areas.

“So, many other factors have contributed what I will call a lingering sore that has refused to heal in Nigeria concerning people impacted by conflicts,” she said.

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“The fact that we don’t have an acceptable national identification scheme means that we are not able to also verify the information that we are getting on the field,” she added.

Ojigho was optimistic that having a group of researchers from the University of Ibadan to show how Nigeria could harmonise the data and its visualisation would be helpful to Nigeria.

The Executive Director of CORAFID Centre for Innovation and Research, Makurdi, Nathaniel Awuapila,
said the reports would help in effective planning for IDPs.

Awuapila, who is also an advisory board member of the project, said the research would be of greater benefits to all stakeholders including the displaced persons.

He said, “This research that is being shared today will help stakeholders, agencies in charge of humanitarian affairs, the NGOs and other interveners to be better guided about how to utilise information that involves displaced persons.

“A project like this helps provide information for both the responding and the intervention agencies for the purpose of effective planning and utilisation of services to meet the needs of the people that are displaced.

“I think the information in this research is required by all agencies that are responding, both government and non-governmental, for the purpose of effective use of the data that is generated.”