Expert analysis

06 May 2024

Zooming in on internally displaced people’s needs to inform better responses

The need for comprehensive data and analysis on IDPs' living conditions is becoming ever more urgent amid a growing global focus on finding durable solutions for the millions of internally displaced people worldwide. Uncovering the specific vulnerabilities of displaced communities compared to non-displaced populations is pivotal for helping inform a more targeted response. 

IDMC’s annual severity assessments, which provide a snapshot of the situation of internally displaced households in comparison to their non-displaced counterparts, and returnee households, when the data is available, meet this demand.1  

Our assessments, based on data collected by REACH for Multi-Sector Needs Assessments (MSNA) and similar exercises, measure disparities in needs, vulnerabilities and enjoyment of rights. The assessed dimensions and indicators use the globally recognised IASC Framework for Durable Solutions as a foundation to assess progress key aspects of durable solutions for IDPs such as decent housing and livelihoods.  



The latest results of the severity assessment are now available for 2023, providing updated analysis in 11 countries: Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Iraq, Kenya, Mali, Myanmar, Niger, Somalia and Ukraine.  

Read the methodology  

Explore our interactive Severity Assessment Data Dashboard 

Key findings 

The latest results show disparities between displaced and non-displaced households across the majority of indicators in 10 of the 11 countries assessed. On average, internally displaced households faced more adverse conditions for 75 per cent of the indicators assessed. This highlights the displacement-specific needs and vulnerabilities affecting IDPs. Addressing these challenges is crucial for supporting IDPs on their pathway toward achieving durable solutions.  

Safety and security 

Safety and security for IDPs, including effective protection from threats that may have caused their displacement, is an important component of securing a durable solution but remains elusive for many. In Niger, 49 per cent of internally displaced households reported fear of conflict and violence, compared to 13 per cent of non-displaced households. Further analysis by sex of household head reveals that 69 per cent of female-headed internally displaced households reported this concern compared to 46 per cent of male-headed households. Feeling unsafe in the location of displacement can hinder the ability to establish new connections, erode trust in local authorities, may negatively impact psychosocial well-being, or reduce the likelihood of sending a child to school. Using these findings, alongside a contextual understanding of the factors that influence them, can help governments and other country-level actors to address challenges impacting IDPs’ ability to rebuild their lives. 

Standards of living 

Across Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, Niger and Ukraine, poor or borderline food consumption was more prevalent among IDPs than non-displaced households. Particularly noteworthy is the higher proportion of female-headed internally displaced households reporting this than male-headed ones in all six countries mentioned. In most countries assessed, a greater proportion of internally displaced households lacked access to improved sanitation facilities than non-displaced households. In Somalia, 81 per cent of internally displaced households and 83 per cent of returnee households reported this challenge, compared to 77 per cent of non-displaced households.  

Access to sufficient water to meet basic needs was more frequently reported among internally displaced households in most countries assessed. Delving into the sub-national level in CAR reveals significant challenges in certain provinces. In Basse-Kotto province, for example, 89-91 per cent of displaced, returnee and non-displaced households surveyed reported insufficient water to meet their basic needs, surpassing the national average of 66-72 per cent. This analysis helps to pinpoint areas of greatest need and demonstrates that the issue is not exclusive to displaced households, both of which can help guide an evidence-based response. 

A Yezidi woman walks through a camp for IDPs in Dohuk Governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Photo: Ahmed Kaka/NRC  A Yezidi woman walks through a camp for IDPs in Dohuk Governorate in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI). Photo: Ahmed Kaka/NRC

Livelihood and housing 

Adequate housing and its association with securing a stable income and increased self-reliance has been identified as an important component for durable solutions, as highlighted in the IOM PROGRESS report.2 Yet, lack of a stable income source was more frequently reported by internally displaced households than non-displaced households in all countries assessed except CAR. In Mali, a significant disparity exists between internally displace households (62%) and their non-displaced counterparts (19%), with this issue reported more frequently among those displaced 3-12 months prior (71%) than those displaced for over 1 year (56%). Understanding how a lack of access to stable income sources affects IDPs differently during their displacement journey can help inform more effective responses. 

A greater proportion of internally displaced than non-displaced households reported lack of adequate housing in all countries assessed, except the DRC. Notably, in Burkina Faso, the gap between IDPs and non-displaced households was significant, at 37 per cent and 3 per cent respectively, jumping to 90 per cent among internally displaced households residing in camps, highlighting a significant issue requiring prioritisation. The issue of inadequate housing was also more frequently reported by female-headed households, providing a further area of focus to help guide the response.  

Civic and social rights 

Consistent with last year’s assessments, the Civic and Social Rights dimension once again has the greatest data gaps, particularly with respect to voting rights and participation in public affairs, with data only available for Iraq. Lack of civil documentation was more prevalent among internally displaced households in five of the six countries with data, including 91% of internally displaced households surveyed in Niger and 84 per cent of those in CAR. Data on lack of freedom of movement was limited to 5 countries. In Burkina Faso, a notable disparity was identified, with 54 per cent of internally displaced households surveyed reporting restrictions compared to 28 per cent of non-displaced households. The rates were even higher among internally displaced households living in camps at 77 per cent compared to 44 per cent among those living out of camps. Better data on all aspects of civic and social rights is critical for identifying and addressing barriers that prevent IDPs from enjoying these rights on par with other population groups. 

The Severity Assessment Data Dashboard offers access to the results and more, enabling users to delve into the analysis and identify findings relevant to their work. Users can also download the methodological note, which provides the full list of indicators, country-specific limitations and caveats that are important to note when interpreting the data. While this quantitative analysis provides valuable insights, it is critical to complement it with relevant contextual information for a comprehensive understanding. For further information on countries where severity assessments were conducted this year, please refer to their respective  country profile pages  on the IDMC website. 

Dashboard design and research support: Chiara Valenti 

Data analysis support: Stephen Okiya