Iraq: Research Terms of Reference : Area-Based Assessment (ABA): Monitoring and Collaborative Response Planning IRQ 1912 (September 2020)

Manual and Guideline
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2 . Rationale

2.1. Rationale

During 2020, Iraq will continue to see an increasing rate of returns of internally displaced populations (IDPs) to their areas of origin. Returnees often face pronounced challenges in returning to their areas of origin, including insufficient or nonfunctional services, constricted or absent livelihoods, friction with other communities, and a lack of support from key state or non-governmental actors. In response to these challenges, humanitarian actors have mobilized to provide the support needed by vulnerable populations and the platforms to deliver this assistance. In particular, the humanitarian community in partnership with the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Center (JCMC), on behalf of the Iraqi Government, established the Community Resource Centers (CRCs) Initiative. The CRC strategy aims at enhancing area-based and multi-sectoral engagement in areas where conflict-affected communities reside and return to, and to facilitate the dialogue and engagement of different government, humanitarian, and development actors in the identification of durable and safe solutions to displacement. CRCs are commonly established in areas of high return, allowing them to support communities in identifying and accessing activities, provide two-way information access and dissemination, support multi-sectoral coordination among humanitarian actors and the government, and promote an area-based approach to displacement management.

Through an area-based approach, humanitarian actors can operate at a more localized level to design a response that is geographically targeted, inclusive of a range of local, international, and governmental actors, and is inter-sectoral in its programme delivery. To support a collaborative and localized response, humanitarian, development and government actors require a strong evidence base that is multi-sectoral, and can inform short, medium and long-term interventions in the area.

To date, REACH Initiative (REACH) has provided an initial evidence base through one round of Area Based Assessments (ABAs), from September 2018 to November 2019, conducted in urban areas as CRCs are being established. The ABA framework combines secondary data with primary data collection to fill informational gaps regarding the provision and availability of services and household-level multi-sectoral needs. As the assessment has developed, and in response to partner need, REACH has also assisted in conducting gap analysis, through comparing data with area-based 4Ws, to highlight priority gaps in the response.

However, through this process, further information gaps and partner needs have emerged, namely the need to more systematically conduct gap analysis and feed this into a collaborative response planning process at the local level.
Furthermore, the response in areas of return has begun to focus on longer term issues such as social cohesion, while meeting shorter or medium term needs of affected populations. In light of these lessons learned, REACH’s initial ABA approach has been expanded to include support to collaborative response planning processes, and durable solutions indicators, to better meet the needs of the CRC implementing partner as well as local humanitarian, development, and governmental actors.

To operationalize this recognition of the need for gap analysis and monitoring, REACH has designed an expanded ABA approach. Built on the strengths of previous ABAs, this new framework uses a collaborative approach to response planning, employing a gap analysis with OCHA’s 4W. For the first round of this ABA and collaborative response planning approach, REACH will focus on Telafar city. The circumstances of Telafar, located in Ninewa Province, are emblematic of the challenges in supporting returnees and the broader population in areas of high return. Before its capture by ISIS in June 2014, an estimated number of 200,000-220,000 people lived in the city. Though the majority of residents were Sunni Turkmen, the city’s population included a variety of ethnic (e.g. Arabs, Kurds) and religious groups (e.g. Shi’a, Christian).

Following the capture by ISIS, the city was virtually depopulated and by April 2018, one year after liberation, only 30 – 40% of the pre-conflict population (i.e. 60,000 – 80,000 residents) had returned. Those who returned reported limited availability of services, widespread food insecurity, a dearth of livelihoods, and a population of children who had not attended school for three years. In 2019, a CRC was re-established in Telafar9 and has served as a resource centre, supporting the operations of humanitarian partners in the city. Through the expanded ABA approach, described in the present TOR, with its collaborative response planning framework and continuous monitoring, REACH will continue to inform the CRC and promote evidence-based responses to the needs of the population.