Filling the data gaps: innovation at IDMC

In 2019, we monitored conflict-induced displacement in 50 countries and territories and obtained data on of displacement associated with disasters in 140.

Despite our best efforts, however, we still do not cover all situations of displacement. Even using IDETECT, we are only able to verify and report on what is inside the blue inner circle in the image below:

Internal displacement reported on by IDMC


Given the importance of accurate information on new displacements and the evolution of situations over time, we have begun to incorporate new approaches to our monitoring. By using these tools, we aim to:

  • detect more displacements and increase the coverage of our monitoring by analysing more data from more sources

  • verify our estimates by comparing figures based on different sources and types of data and means of analysis, for example by comparing a modelled estimate with one based on surveys or IDP registrations

  • obtain more displacement data disaggregated by IDPs’ location, age, sex and other characteristics

  • capture and analyse more time-series data

  • new and alternative sources of data to detect displacement.

As a result, we will be able to paint a more complete and three-dimensional picture of internal displacement and reveal how situations evolve over time.

We have already adopted a series of innovative tools and technologies to estimate future displacement risks, monitor displacement in near real-time and fill current data and monitoring gaps.

We are working with partners to transform our disaster displacement risk model into a real time tool for estimating displacement caused by all natural hazards. We’ve also begun analysing anonymised, aggregated data from social media to help analyse the spatial and temporal dimensions of disaster-related displacement.

In some conflict contexts where there is little or no humanitarian access, we have begun analysing satellite imagery to detect and estimate displacement from the destruction of homes (see figure below).

Example of destruction visible from satellite images in Simak, Turkey:

Destruction visible from satellite images in Simak, Turkey


  Estimate of population affected by locality

In the coming years, we will work with partners to improve and scale up these techniques – and develop other approaches – to increase the scope of our monitoring and enhance both the accuracy and speed with which we can report on situations of displacement.