03/03/2013 – ECHO has funded the IVAP (Internally Displaced Persons Vulnerability Assessment and Profiling) project in Pakistan since 2011. Designed to fill the information gap regarding the needs and exact whereabouts of conflict-affected displaced populations in the Northwestern part of the country, this initiative run by the International Rescue Committee (IRC) enables humanitarian organisations to better design and implement their operations in the region.
Hassan Zalla and her family are one example amongst hundreds of thousands who have fled their homes from Pakistan’s tribal belt in recent years. Like many others in this region bordering Afghanistan, they were caught in the middle of the fighting between the Taliban and Pakistani troops. “We lost our house, our land, our community and our own identity,” she says. “We all feared our babies would die, so we ran.”
Hassan has nine children, but if you include her extended family, there are actually sixteen relatives living in the rented four-room tumbledown mud house in Peshawar. The monthly rent is about €30. “My husband works collecting rubbish to cover the cost of rent and bills”, adds Hassan Zalla. “We used to live in our own house so we never had to worry about these expenses”. To add to her woes, for three years Hassan and her family were not able to access crucial humanitarian aid as, for various reasons, they could not register themselves with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR).
Then, in December 2010, an IVAP team knocked on her door. The team was conducting an assessment to identify and profile the needs of families displaced by conflict to ensure that they could receive the appropriate assistance. This exercise also helped to pinpoint families who met the government’s eligibility criteria for registration, yet, till date, had not been registered. As a result, in early 2012, Hassan’s family was formally added to the UNHCR list of people eligible to receive humanitarian assistance. They now receive food rations on a monthly basis from the World Food Program (WFP).
“It seemed an act of God”, says Hassan, recalling the events of the day they received the news. “My husband got a call on his mobile phone. They told him to bring our ID cards and papers to Peshawar. That day he returned with biscuits, flour, lentils, oil, rice and salt. I was so, so happy when I saw all the food! But I made sure to cook small portions so that it would last us the whole month. I’m thankful that finally we got what we should have been entitled to”.
Birth of IVAP
Since 2008, military operations and sectarian violence have generated waves of major displacements in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) of north-western Pakistan. In order to facilitate a strong humanitarian response to the displacements, the humanitarian community and the Pakistan government took action after realising that essential data on both the whereabouts and needs of these families was lacking, thereby compromising the efficiency of humanitarian operations. In 2010, the IVAP project took shape, conceived specifically with the aim of filling the information gap regarding conflict-displaced populations from KP and FATA.
Concretely, IVAP is an information source that provides constantly updated data on Internally Displaced People (IDP) living outside camps in north-west Pakistan – critical information given that four of every five (86 per cent) displaced families do not live in camps and are therefore much harder to find and assist. IVAP field teams visit IDP communities and gather key information on their needs including water, health, education, food security, and protection, both during displacement and upon their return to their home villages. Constantly updated, this data is easily accessible online, at www.ivap.org.pk
Enabling better targeting
While individual IDPs remain anonymous, a wealth of information on their needs and location is available thanks to IVAP. This data helps humanitarian organisations in the design, targeting and implementation of programmes assisting close to one million conflict-induced IDPs in Pakistan. “The information is of vital value for prioritizing the programmes in terms of vulnerability”, underlines Merlin, one of many international NGOs which have been utilising IVAP data to inform their programming. In parallel, IVAP findings have also helped register close to 11,000 eligible families with UNHCR, while a further 1,800 are in the process of being registered.
Throughout 2013, IVAP plans to conduct a re-census of all the families to re-establish their locations and needs which will once again provide vital data to humanitarian actors to facilitate the assistance of these families.
By IVAP coordinator