Over the past years, the Americas region has been experiencing a population movement situation with no precedents. Approximately 3 million people have fled Venezuela, and 2.4 million migrants have settled in Latin America and the Caribbean Islands. The IFRC network of National Societies are responding to the needs of over 283,000 people in 8 countries. However, the situation is highly fluid and requires constant analysis and adaptation to changing needs.

The IFRC are using a revised approach to emergency needs assessment to help forecast needs, monitor trends and respond to emerging concerns.  The approach uses a blend of new analytical methodologies, innovative technologies and an open approach to partnering with other humanitarian agencies to enable a better situational analysis.  The outputs are used to inform a Migration Cell based in the IFRC Americas Regional Office, where response options are considered in consultation with sector leads and implementing National Societies.  The result is a better informed, more evidence-based response.

Despite dealing with increasing volumes and channels of data, the IFRC recognised that our ability to process that data, to identify the signals amid the noise, had not kept pace.  We have been putting effort into revising the way in which we collect, organise and, most importantly, analyse particularly secondary data. Over the past couple of years, working with a number of National Societies and with humanitarian partners such as OCHA and ACAPS and private freelance sectorial experts, we have been developing better training, processes and analytical outputs.

New methodologies will only get you so far when trying to deal with a regional phenomenon with multiple drivers and country-specific complexities. In essence, we need a better way to categorise data, both primary and secondary, which can help us to understand what is happening and what the Red Cross can do to help.  A new inter-agency platform called DEEP (the Data Entry & Exploration Platform) has been developed in order to help analysts cope with this flood of information.The DEEP has been built through the joint efforts of the UN, Red Cross, Private Sector and NGOs and is designed to help analysts to make sense of crisis situations using tools such as severity rankings, information reliability scoring, analytical frameworks and humanitarian profiling.  While it does not replace the essential component for analysis, our own brains, it does help us to collect, organise, rank, retrieve, query and store crucial quantitative and mainly qualitative information.

Another crucial benefit of using DEEP is that we can also share analysis with humanitarian partners. The platform enables analysts at the IFRC to share categorised secondary information such as reports, assessments, newspaper articles and other relevant material.  Luis Fanovich, the IFRC Information Management Delegate for the Americas, has been collaborating with colleagues in the OCHA Regional Offices for the Americas, to produce a joint analysis of the situation, publicly available on the IFRC’s emergency operations platform GO

This blend of the three elements of improved analytical processes, innovative technologies such as DEEP and GO, as well as a more open approach to joint analysis is bearing fruit.  The blend is fundamental to the way IFRC is investing in Information Management over the last few years.  We aim to move us beyond data and dashboards for their own sake, to improve understanding and ultimately better humanitarian outcomes.

Credits:

Photo 1: The Ecuadorian Red Cross offers services Restoring Family Contacts, Psychosocial Support, Guidance and Humanitarian Assistance to people in a situation of mobility in border points of the country. Credits: Ecuadorian Red Cross.

Photo 2: The Ecuadorian Red Cross (ERC) provides support to migrants who pass through the northern border of Ecuador. Credits: Ecuadorian Red Cross.

[Editor note: blog post by Guido Pizzini, Luke Caley, Luis Fanovich and Heather Leson]