iMMAP Inc.'s Data-Backed Impact on Colombia's Refugee Crisis

Using innovative methods, iMMAP Inc. and GIFMM partnered to improve humanitarian response for migrants willing to brave one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes.

Fleeing their home country’s economic struggles and intricate political instability, thousands of Venezuelans flock to neighboring Colombia each year. While some settle in the country, Colombia is merely a stopover for others – on their way to Central and North America.

Necoclí, a town near the Panama border, is one of the last stops in Colombia for migrants and refugees who are willing to brave one of the world’s most dangerous migration routes --the deadly Darién Gap-–to continue their journey northward.

Between November 2022 and January 2023, iMMAP Inc. and GIFMM (the Interagency Group on Mixed Migration Flows) conducted a population survey in Necoclí to understand the composition of traveling groups, their movements and travel intentions, route conditions, and primary needs.  

To gain insights on this complex and lasting humanitarian crisis, they jointly collected data from 6,390 individuals and successfully conducted 1,874 surveys with a 90% confidence level, resulting in various data products. 

By establishing a diverse portfolio of data products, this joint initiative seeks to enhance decision-making processes, minimize duplication of efforts, and maximize impact, ultimately contributing to a more informed and efficient humanitarian response. 

In the following sections, you'll discover our products that illustrate our role as a reliable ally in the face of adversity, as a hub of innovation and as a actor in Colombia's complex and ever-changing landscape.

Data-Driven Collaboration for Greater Impact

Our joint project with The Interagency Group for Mixed Migration Flows (GIFMM) aims to support and foster innovation in key sectors crucial during migrant crises, such as Education, Food Security and Nutrition, Health, Socio-Economic Integration, or Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH). Our primary goal is to enhance decision-making processes and create a standardized catalog of GIFMM information products. This wide range of data products facilitates informed decision-making and maximizes humanitarian impact. 

Streamlining Decision-Making

Profiling of settlements in Colombia

Our collection of information products forms the technical backbone of this collaborative effort. These tools are not merely static reports; they are dynamic assets that drive actions, optimize resource allocation, and fill critical information gaps. They give humanitarian organizations the power to prioritize and streamline their work efficiently.  

Innovative Data-Tracking Approaches

One of our innovative approaches involves tracking Venezuelan migrant populations using Facebook's advertising platform. Building on this cutting-edge method, we created quarterly reports providing critical information that empowers humanitarian organizations to better assist migrant and refugee populations. These quarterly Facebook reports are actively used by UNHCR and MigraVenezuela for their analytical purposes. 

Effective Training Initiatives

Besides collecting and producing data, we also conducted various training courses. These helped bridge knowledge gaps in IM; enhance communication among teams and partners; and streamline our partners’ data processes, ultimately leading to better structure and performance on the field. 

One of the trainings held in person by iMMAP Inc. Colombia. Credit: iMMAP Inc. Colombia 

Boosting the Local Economy

In addition to our primary mission aimed at streamlining relief efforts, we are also playing a role in studying how international migration affects Bogotá's economy. Teaming up with GIFMM and the Economic Development Secretariat of Bogotá, we analyzed the dynamics of the labor market and entrepreneurship in the capital, to help the city’s economy grow and thrive. 

A Global Impact

As highlighted before, several respected organizations are putting our data from this joint project to good use. For example, UNESCO sought authorization to use it for their "Global Overview of Refugee Education Data”, set to be released in late 2023. This emphasizes how valuable our contributions are to global refugee education. Previously, our data was also prominently featured in OCHA’s 2023 Humanitarian Needs Overview  for Colombia, addressing issues related to forced displacement caused by conflicts, armed violence, and natural disasters.  

Credits: OCHA

Extended Media Coverage

Massive delivery of Temporary Protection Permits in Bogota (Credit: Colprensa) 

Our data has consistently grabbed the attention of both specialized and mainstream media outlets looking at the plight of Venezuelan refugees and migrants. For instance, our joint-project and the resulting data were featured in ‘Semana’, Colombia’s most influential magazine. 

Recognition on the Global Stage

As a testimony of the importance of our work in shaping responses to the ever-changing humanitarian landscape, our data was highlighted at the International Conference of Solidarity with Venezuelan Refugees and Migrants (held on March 16, 2023), but also in the 2023 Global Report on Food Crises.

As we forge ahead, iMMAP Inc. stands as more than a data-driven organization; we are a steadfast ally in the face of adversity, a hub of innovation, and an actor in a complex, ever-changing landscape of Colombia.