Maintenance of access of vulnerable communities to multi-sector services through efficient and accountable referral pathways is essential, especially as needs continue to increase in times of crisis. With the temporary and partial suspension of humanitarian operations during the COVID-19 lockdown, restricted access to vulnerable communities meant that service providers extensively relied on effective communication and coordination with each other, to continue to safely identify those in need and refer them to the appropriate services in a timely manner. This report explores the gaps and challenges in referral pathways and inter-sector coordination during the COVID-19 period, and draws recommendations to improve access to multi-sector services. Despite the remote work modality adopted by service providers during the lockdown, which allowed for better response to referrals, confusion over which services were still operating, and based on which eligibility and prioritization criteria, resulted in increasingly inaccurate referrals, as well as referrals left pending until service provision resumed. With significant gaps in the capacity of service providers to respond to the high needs, this prolonged the referral process and ultimate service provision for those in urgent need.
Findings from this report are based on quantitative analysis of referral data from March-June 2020 on the Referral Information Management System (RIMS). RIMS was created by DRC in 2017 to provide a common platform for service providers across sectors to manage, track and respond to referrals, as well as qualitative analysis from Focus Group Discussions conducted with service providers.
This report has been developed by the RIMS Team and complements the RIMS Snapshots produced every four months to highlight trends in referrals. The next analytical Snapshot and report will be published in September and November 2020 respectively. These reports will provide important insights into the consequences of the devastating explosion that took place in Beirut on the 4th of August 2020 - killing at a minimum 180 people, injuring 6,500, and leaving more than 300,000 without a shelter - as well as the spike of COVID-19 infections, on the overall response, with the aim to provide timely evidence-based recommendations to improve the effectiveness and accountability of referrals.