GIZ Data Lab | Data in fragile contexts – Enhancing context monitoring in Anbar

65 % of GIZ partner countries are classified as fragile and the number of respective projects is increasing. Fragile countries often lack security, basic infrastructure and economic opportunities due to destruction. Transitional aid in international cooperation aims to reestablish conditions for a peaceful economic and social reconstruction process.

COVID-19 has exacerbated existing and sometimes deeply rooted political, economic, social and security challenges, especially in fragile contexts.

Accordingly, the GIZ project Restoration of Peace, Livelihoods and Economic Cycles in Anbar, Iraq focuses on the rehabilitation of productive and social basic infrastructure in order to reactivate local economic cycles and the creation of income opportunities, and promotes peaceful and inclusive coexistence in Anbar for the most vulnerable people.


The project relies on detailed information for planning, steering, monitoring and evaluation (internally as well as reporting to our commissioning parties). Up-to-date information is key in these dynamic environments and reliable ground/granular data is crucial for the quality of provided services. But data often isn’t available, up to date or reliable. Most data sources are outdated (e.g. household censuses) or highly aggregated (e.g. population structure provided only on a macro/national scale). Security and resource constraints in fragile environments make third-party monitoring with granular data a time consuming, expensive and sometimes impossible task.

The monthly Context Monitoring in Anbar and Ninewa Governorates in cooperation with CLIC & Baastel, a M&E service provider, regularly delivers updates on the situation in Anbar and other conflict regions by combining information from Focus Group discussions, Key Informant interviews, manual web and (to some extent) social media analyses, local NGOs, local administrative representatives and international agencies.

The heterogeneity of beneficiaries (the most vulnerable of host communities, small-scale farmers, farmers associations, women and youth) is a major challenge in terms of comprehensively understanding the status quo and potential conflicts amongst them. It’s key to understand beneficiary needs on a sub district level, to identify societal and economic trends and to correlate potential conflicts with dynamic characteristics of individual beneficiary groups. As an example, current conflicts are related to territorial claims, land ownership, ISIS affiliation, limited available resources etc. Accordingly, CLIC & Baastel interviews key informants from various groups like senior officials, influencers, secondary influential decision makers and beneficiaries themselves to collect information on concerns, (mutual) perceptions, economic needs, desires etc.

Other groups of interest are community leaders, change makers, students and youths. These groups are well represented in social media and conduct directional and trend-setting discussions (humanitarian, civil society related etc.). Consequently, the key question that we want to address with our experiment is: “How can we utilize alternative data sources in order to better understand contextual realities on the ground that are correlated with conflict dynamics”?​

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Source: GIZ Data Lab, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), 08 February 2021