Lack of data block bid to solve IDP problem

Nominated MP Cecily Mbarire distributes relief items to Internally displaced persons at Ndunguni Primary School in Makima Ward, Mbeere South.[Muriithi Mugo,Standard]

Lack of reliable data continues to hamper the chances of finding solution to challenges people displaced by natural calamities and conflicts in Africa face.

That was a key message from a continental conference held at Kabarak University this week by civil society actors who were seeking solutions to internal displacement in the region.

The two-day conference was hosted by Prof Osogo Ambani, the Dean, School of Law at the university.

He said resettling internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected by floods, conflicts and natural disasters has been a hurdle in the continent.

“There is need for more research and statistics to map out the extent of displacements that will inform possible solutions to these cases,” Prof Ambani said.

The forum brought together civil society experts from Kabarak University in partnership with University of Pretoria alongside other experts from across the continent to deliberate on solutions to the growing challenge of internal displacements in Africa.

Dr Aderomola Adeola from University of Pretoria said there is a growing need for conversations on how internal displacements causes mental health issues, trauma as well as financial and economic strain on livelihoods.

Existing gaps

Henry Kiplagat, the Kabarak University Vice Chancellor said the conference identified problems they internally have and came up with possible solutions.

“Internal displacements not only stem from election violence but also from natural disasters such as volcanic eruptions.

"Although these cases are on the rise, there is still lack of clear framework on handling the issues in many countries including Kenya,” Professor Kiplagat said.

He said lack of data on internal displacements in the continent is still a challenge in making decisions.

“Data inform solutions and that is what is missing,” he added.

Richard Obedi, a representative from Uganda said while refugees have comprehensive response frameworks, the internally displaced often suffer because of lack of mechanisms.

“IDPs are always in limbo because of existing gaps in research and policies unlike refugees that have comprehensive refugees response mechanisms,” Obedi said.

Asmau Lio from Nigeria urged for political will in the implementation of existing laws to guide in the resettlement of the internally displaced.

“Displacements exacerbate gender inequalities as most of those affected are women and children. With growing rates of internal displacements, countries in Africa need to put up formulations to deal with the problem,” she said.

Jimmy Kainja, a representative from Malawi said that issues of internal displacements is one of those most neglected topics that are majorly discussed in international conferences.

This, he said, has seen most victims becoming marginalised.

“Countries that have policies, lack implementation and that does not make any difference with those that do not have any policies. There is need for all stakeholders to be brought on board,” he said.

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