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Analysis of the adaptation, innovation and coping mechanisms of humanitarian organizations in the context of limited access to information during the COVID-19 pandemic - COVID-19 Situational analysis project

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Executive Summary

The global spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has had devastating impacts on populations already in the grips of humanitarian crises. In Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, and Syria, the pandemic has multiplied threats to civilian populations and exacerbated their needs and impacted the availability of rigorous data.

To reduce public health risks, governments and humanitarian organizations have had to adhere to strict guidelines that have resulted in halting or slowing down the movement of aid workers and supplies. This has forced data collection teams to adapt their methodologies to ensure they can get timely and accurate information on the pressing needs of the communities they aim to serve.

This report details the many ways organizations sought to overcome the barriers presented by the pandemic to collect the data necessary for effective humanitarian responses, in the midst of complex and evolving situations. Organizations in the six countries adapted their ways of working, from their data collection methodologies, and the technologies they use, to increasingly hiring local staff to fill crucial information gaps and ensure the continuation of humanitarian planning and, in turn, aid delivery. This study draws from a rigorous review of secondary data and a series of semi-structured interviews conducted between July – September 2021 with key informants working on all six examined contexts.