Set up by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and funded by the European Commission's Humanitarian Aid Office (ECHO) [see: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/index_en.htm] , the Humanitarian Response Monitoring System (HRMS) offers a new means to streamline information about the more than 125,000 IDPs now estimated to be living in evacuation centres on the island.
"HRMS is designed to monitor IDP movements, track humanitarian response, and highlight gaps and needs," Ida Mae Fernandez, the IOM Manila regional programme officer, told IRIN on 15 January, noting that in times of disaster, information management was as critical as the immediate and coordinated delivery of aid.
Her comments followed a day after IOM signed an agreement with the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) [see: http://www.dswd.gov.ph/] - the lead agency of the government's emergency shelter, camp management and protection cluster - to oversee the new system's management.
In addition to tracking IDP movement, collate information on humanitarian response activities by area as well as by sector, the database has the capacity to store and manage maps.
"We believe that it will complement and enhance our information management capacity in disaster response," said DSWD's assistant secretary Ruel Lucentales.
According to aid workers, one of the biggest challenges is obtaining an accurate assessment of the number of displaced, with government figures and agencies often contradicting each other.
Only 20 percent of Mindanao's displaced are registered in the system at the moment; however, now that the handover is complete, IOM will be working closely with DSWD to register the entire affected population.
Once operational, aid agencies will be able to access key demographic information online, such as the number of IDPs at specific evacuation centres and the number of IDP sites, as well as track who is doing what and where, specific needs and identifying gaps in aid provision.
The system is being piloted in central Mindanao and could subsequently be rolled out in other areas during times of disaster.