Evaluation of UNHCR’s Data Use and Information Management Approaches

As the UN agency with the mandate to protect refugees, returnees, and stateless people, UNHCR’s strategic and tactical use of information is paramount to fulfilling its mission of protecting and ensuring the development of durable solutions for persons of concern. With accurate, quality, timely and complete data, UNHCR is a credible authority on forced displacement, and can inspire confidence and trust, as well as drive impact and efficient use of its resources. UNHCR and its partners regularly and consistently require data for decision-making and resource allocation; and for raising funds and being accountable for results. As more and more data and information are produced, a need arises for the management of both. In UNHCR, there are broadly three different types of data: financial, human resources and operational data. This data was managed in several different information systems. The organization understood the importance of active, efficient, and effective knowledge and information management for better delivery of programmes and protection for persons of concern to UNHCR.

This evaluation came at a time when governments around the world were seeking greater accountability and transparency on the impact, results, and appropriate and prudent use of humanitarian and development financing. This reinforced for UNHCR the need to improve its data and information systems for all three types of data. While this evaluation focused on operational data, it is noted that the reforms mentioned were also undertaken for financial and human resources data. At the time of the report, UNHCR’s improvement efforts were categorized across five initiatives: 1) strengthening data integration and accessibility; 2) improving efficiency of operational data collection; 3) automating information and data analysis; 4) increasing data sharing; and 5) revamping UNHCR’s results-based management approach. This evaluation provided findings and recommendations to further improve and strengthen UNHCR’s data and information management.