Research Terms of Reference: Emergency Needs Tracking in Northwest Syria (SYR2004), Version 1

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Despite the implementation of numerous ceasefires, aerial bombardments and ground-based conflict precipitated mass displacement in northwest Syria throughout 2019 and in the beginning of 2020.1 The sheer number of IDP arrivals and unpredictability of displacement trends has led to complex humanitarian challenges in communities witnessing high numbers of IDP arrivals and has exacerbated already dire humanitarian conditions.

Moreover, severe weather conditions such as storms and flooding in the winter and crop fires brought on by extreme heat and conflict escalation in the summer have led to a severe degradation in shelter settings and exacerbated needs across communities in Idleb and Aleppo governorates on numerous occasions.2,3 The Emergency Needs Tracking (ENT) was conceptualised to support the response in this increasingly volatile and fluid context where there is a need for accurate and up-to-date information on the needs of vulnerable populations.

The ENT system will support the humanitarian response by providing rapid and up-to-date information on the needs of IDPs and populations affected by conflict escalation, fires, flooding, storms and other sudden onset crises. The purpose of the ENT is twofold, on the one hand, REACH provides relevant humanitarian information to operational actors on people in need and their particular communities to allow for effective and targeted programming. On the other hand, information gleaned for the ENT can support humanitarian actors’ advocacy efforts and strategic planning. REACH engaged operational actors throughout the research design process to ensure that the information was as operationally useful as possible and that indicators aligned with those deployed by operational actors.

The ENT system consists of two parts, the first being a daily tracking system which tracks the needs of IDPs and vulnerable populations in communities known to have witnessed IDP arrivals or been affected by a sudden onset crisis such as fire, flooding, storms or conflict escalation. The information gathered from the ENT daily tracking will be integrated onto a dashboard so humanitarian partners can track the needs of vulnerable populations in close-to real-time. Data from the ENT will be cleaned on a daily basis and integrated into the dashboard. Datasets will be published every three days online.

In particular, the need for accurate and up-to-date information on the shelter settings of IDPs is integral to the humanitarian response. As such, REACH will gather data on the shelter settings of IDPs and populations affected by sudden onset crises and will highlight when communities have a high proportion of households residing without shelter or in makeshift shelter typologies as these individuals will be the most vulnerable. REACH will also gather data on the most common food sources and water sources as well as the proportion of households in assessed communities who are living on less than one meal per day and who do not have sufficient access to clean water or a functioning toilet. Moreover, REACH will gather data on the proportion of households who are unable to access health facilities. Following the outbreak of Coronavirus in Syria, REACH added a question on the availability and accessibility of soap to understand the barriers to handwashing which is a crucial preventative measure against the spread of the disease.