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Operations - Preparation Stage

Last updated: 19 Dec 2022


A sound methodology alone is not enough to successfully implement a DTM exercise. Operational requirements include to adequately position DTM, to develop projects and obtain funds to start up or maintain an exercise, to set up and manage the required team, as well as programmatic requirements ranging from financial management to data protection and data dissemination, monitoring and evaluation, as well as project reporting. This section covers all of the above, providing guidance and examples from previous field implementation.


Positioning DTM

The humanitarian landscape features a number of information management initiatives by different agencies. These can often be complementary, but positioning and regular coordination with partners is required to avoid duplication and the waste of resources. To ensure that the DTM is a collaborative exercise for the benefit of the wider humanitarian community and national/local authorities, partners need to understand its scope, benefits and added value.

In order to position the DTM, it is necessary to first confirm if implementation of the DTM brings added value in the given context. Identifying the key stakeholders involved, understanding various agendas and strategies, and working in collaboration to receive results are equally important. It is thus helpful to familiarize oneself with other existing information management mechanisms and exercises at the country level. A short overview of the key organizations involved is provided below.


Organization Area of work Links to DTM
IDMC The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) is the leading source of information and analysis on internal displacement worldwide. It relies on data from OCHA, IOM, governments and other partners. DTM data feeds into the annual IDMC Global Report on Internal Displacement
ACAPS ACAPS provides information products to contribute towards a shared situation awareness within the humanitarian community, thereby enabling effective, evidence-based humanitarian decision-making. Its analysis is based on a review of secondary sources. ACAPS uses DTM data in some of its updates on global emergency situations
REACH REACH conducts primary data collection and facilitates the development of information tools and products that enhance the humanitarian community's decision-making and planning capacity. Assessments carried out by REACH can be complementary
JIPS The Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) seeks to provide profiling field support either directly (on-site) or remotely, through technical assistance, training and the provision of tools and guidance. There are no examples of direct collaboration between JIPS and DTM.
Flowminder/WorldPop Flowminder collects, aggregates, integrates and analyses anonymous mobile operator data, satellite and household survey data. Flowminder has extensive experience working in disaster response and quantifying the impact of natural hazards on population movements, including from Nepal, Bangladesh and Haiti. The WorldPop Project is integrated with Flowminder. DTM is currently in the process of establishing closer partnerships with Flowminder/Worldpop to add additional layers of data analysis.
OCHA-HDX The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Humanitarian Data Exchange (OCHA-HDX) is an open platform for sharing data. HDX has been promoting inter agency exchange and compatibility for data, in order to make information more easily accessible and increase the potential for cross analysis between different datasets, independently of the organization producing them. Platform to share DTM datasets


DTM has been rolled out in support of the following clusters and sectors: Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM), Shelter, Protection, as well as the Commission for Population Movement (CPM), and Common Humanitarian Service (CHS) sector. It has furthermore been rolled out at the request of national authorities and donors in settings where no cluster is operating.

DTM has been rolled out in collaboration with national and local authority actors and partners (including local NGOs, international NGOs and UN). In particular, DTM regularly seeks support from its partners for updating the questionnaire to ensure collected data is actionable and relevant; and in collecting and analysing data; particularly in hard to access areas.

Examples of DTM partnerships with national authorities include the following:


Country Year Nature of the collaboration
South Sudan 2006 and 2014 Returnee Tracking & Monitoring
Sudan Since 2012 Registration and verification have been undertaken in partnership with the Sudan Humanitarian Aid Commission (HAC) since 2012.



Support the Ministry of Migration and Displacement (MODM) to establish registration procedures.

Launching an IM partnership with the Government Emergency cell Partnership with the Kurdistan Region of Iraq's Statistics Office (KRSO) to harmonize displacement data in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

Haiti 2010-2015 Emergency registration of 1.3 million displaced in camps with the MoI/DPC, joint monitoring and deregistration/camp closure and decommissioning.
Philippines Since 2011 Tracking of displacement in the aftermath of typhoons, earthquake, etc., mainly in evacuation centers; Work with the Department for Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) and transfer of systems.
Nigeria Since 2014 Tracking of displacement in communities in Northern Nigeria, in collaboration with the National and State Emergency Management Agencies (NEMA/SEMA), joint assessments & reports.
Ecuador 2016 Displacement tracking in coordination with the Ministry of Economic and Social Integration (MIES), Ministry for the Coordination of Social Development (MCDS) and the National Institute of Statistics and Census (INEC).
Ethiopia Since 2015 Cooperation agreement signed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, IOM is tasked to regularly track, map and report on internal displacement. MOU under development with the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC).

Since 2012

Collaboration with National Directorate for Social Development (DNDS) Handover of DTM system to DNDS.


The added value of the DTM lies in providing accurate and timely information on displaced and mobile populations in a comprehensive manner, ideally covering an entire country or affected area; provision of continued analysis and assessment throughout the course of a crisis, rather than a one-off exercise; by involving a high number of stakeholders through the process (national authorities, IMWG, UN and NGO partners, etc.) it builds networks able to validate data; it complements other IM initiatives that may be operating at different levels and with less defined caseloads; and it is flexible to adapt to the in-country scenario whilst maintaining certain core minimum standards for consistency and comparability of data across different exercises, allowing for regional- and global-level analysis.

When presenting DTM as a new initiative, hold bilateral meetings, consultative / introductory workshops or present at HCT meetings. Consider carefully who is the audience, how familiar are they with the DTM (maybe they have worked in another country where it has been active?), what are the current information gaps, and how will DTM help to address them. Highlight the value of DTM as an exercise for the humanitarian community which provides a baseline to better target services or to prioritize where more in-depth sectoral assessments need to be carried out.

Project Development

Developing good DTM project proposals is key for a successful DTM implementation, to obtain the required resources, enable the team to measure progress against set targets, and ensure delivery of the promised results. A well-prepared project document can help to manage expectations of what DTM can and cannot do in a given context. Optimally, the project development stage should go hand in hand with the strategy development or revision phase.

A good project proposal covers which needs exist and how they can be addressed by DTM; what is realistically achievable and deliverable; why is IOM uniquely qualified to carry out the intervention; the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders that are or will be involved; and a clear understanding of cost implications of all outlined activities. The proposal should also cover how DTM fits within the broader information management landscape (i.e. how it relates to other ongoing or planned initiatives), how the DTM will take into consideration the specific needs of particular population groups and provide sex and age disaggregated data; and highlight the role of data protection and how sensitive data will be managed. The proposal should align with broader humanitarian community plans (e.g. the HRP) and outline how the DTM fits as a strategic tool within the overall response. Carefully review that the narrative and financial documents match. Not always will it be possible or necessary to have DTM as a standalone project. DTM can be presented for example as part of a broader CCCM or Shelter/NFI proposal. Particularly in situations where other actors are collecting data or national authorities are implicated, focus on the basic parts of DTM first (regularly updated information on population numbers and locations) before integrating more in-depth sectoral questions. Mention this staged approach when developing proposals, highlighting limits to what is feasible in the initial phase and how the programme will be gradually scaled up.

Further guidance on how to develop a clear proposal can be found in the IOM Project Development Handbook and some illustrations in the Reference section.

Sample indicators that have been used in previous proposals include:


Indicators Means of Verification
# of DTM info packages created Global DTM Website
# of DTM products shared internally or externally HDX, Global DTM Website, Mailing list, Information sharing protocol
% of [locations/sites] covered by DTM within all the affected locations/sites DTM reports
Sex-age disaggregated data is collected in DTM products Sex and age-disaggregated data is reported in DTM reports DTM reports, data collection form
% of DTM products that include GBV/protection-related analysis DTM reports and products
% of female respondents in DTM exercises Data collection forms
% of female enumerators in DTM teams Enumerator list
% of sites assessment where women and girls where consulted Data collection forms
% of gaps referred to relevant partners among those identified by the DTM Referral tracking system
% of new displacement caseloads assessed within 72 hours of a reported incident DTM reports
% of partners interviewed who confirm the utility of DTM in their work and targeting of interventions Partner consultations/survey
# of enumerators/partners trained to undertake systematic data collection, processing and analysis Training reports
# of DTM staff trained on protection mainstreaming Training reports


You can find a DTM Project Review Checklist as references and Tools section of this entry.


About the DTM Project Review Checklist

The Checklist is meant to be used by IOM staff in charge of reviewing project proposals which are exclusively or partially dedicated to DTM. The checklist covers key points to take into account prior and during the revision of a proposal and consider all parts of the narrative (project description, log frame, etc.) as well as the budget.

This checklist should also serve as a guide for staff who are writing DTM proposals. Staff should remember to always describe DTM activities in simple and accessible words while highlighting the potential use of the DTM data and the importance of DTM activities in their context. Special attention should be given to the funds allocated for human resources and material to ensure the smooth implementation of field activities and data collection exercises.


The following need to be considered when drafting budgets:

  • Staffing: DTM is heavy on human resource costs. The project needs to cover for staff dedicated to the project, such as data collectors, community mobilizers, team leaders, data entry, GIS, reporting officer, operations officer, project officer/programme manager, database officer, DTM Coordinator, DTM Project Officer, Data Analyst. The size of the team will vary depending on the programme scope and country context – often several of the functions mentioned above fall under one person. Also keep in mind costs related to staff that is shared with the country office and to which you need to contribute: for example drivers, admin and finance support, security, procurement and logistics.
  • Office: Office rental, utilities, transportation and vehicle running costs all need to be budgeted for. Equipment: The required equipment varies widely based on the scope of your operations, but commonly includes: computers, tablets, communications equipment, printers, and software licences. In some cases, GPS units, plotters, UAVs, biometric equipment, or similar may be required. You may also need tables, chairs, umbrellas, raincoats, etc., especially if carrying out registration exercises. Keep in mind that some equipment, especially for biometric registration, takes time to procure.
  • Office supplies: These can be put under operational costs and commonly include paper, pens, ink for printers, flip charts, markers, binders, containers for storing completed forms, etc.
  • Direct Program costs furthermore include: Training costs including hiring of facility; web application and graphic designer and/or printing costs; communication costs, travel and DSA costs, implementing partner grants and allowances or salary for enumerators (this is often the largest individual budget line); as well as regional office or global support costs. Sample budgets can be found in the annex.

Average costs can be estimated based on past implementation of DTM in the same country or in a similar context. It can also be helpful to estimate costs of contingency plans (e.g. in case of sudden natural disaster impact) to inform disaster risk reduction efforts.

Monitoring & Evaluation

In order to ensure that the DTM projects are well planned, budgeted, with appropriate resources and implemented, the use of Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) tools is critical. Routine monitoring ensures the effective implementation and accountability of all DTM staff towards delivering the expected outcomes. An M&E framework or Results monitoring framework can be developed to ensure that all members of the project team understand their role in monitoring results (see e.g. p.264 and 270-71 of the IOM Project Handbook). In order to properly monitor the project, reliable indicators need to be identified for monitoring and evaluating DTM activities. A suggested list of indicators was outlined in Section 5. M&E tools should be developed to measure these indicators based on the means of verification identified. It is worth noting that performance indicators related to the DTM can be integrated into DTM products instead of adding further data collection.

In addition, periodic evaluations of the DTM will help determining whether the set outcomes and objectives of the DTM were achieved as well as the strengths and weaknesses of the activities. It will help project staff to adopt corrective measures during the implementation and/or adapting the project design accordingly. Particularly in conflict settings and difficult to access environments, be sure to establish a monitoring and verification strategy prior to commencing data collection.

Regarding financial monitoring, DTM projects tend to have a high burn rate and therefore require careful monitoring. It is recommended to keep track of commitments outside PRISM (e.g. on a simple excel spreadsheet) to always have an accurate picture of the financial status of the project. Such proactive financial management enables to identify over- or under-spending early on and to make programmatic adjustments accordingly. Having a dedicated budget monitoring focal point who can do the day-to-day tracking as well as regularly liaise with the Resource Management Officer for consolidation between the offline tracking and PRISM records is hence strongly recommended.

Strategy Development

The DTM strategy is a living document intended to create a common understanding of the purpose and scope of DTM in any given country context. It serves as reference for those supporting the programme remotely (e.g. Global DTM Support team), and helps to keep the field level team focused around commonly set goals. It can also be shared with partners and donors to help them understand the purpose and methodology of the DTM. Key considerations when developing a DTM strategy are the following:

  • Duration of the project/current funding cycle
  • Requirements/expected timeline for producing results
  • Access - direct or indirect, per area
  • Who is involved in the implementation
  • At which level will data be collected, using which DTM components
  • What are the expected results

Strategies need to cover, at a minimum: Context, objectives, methodology, team structure, and work plan. Strategies should be kept short and concise.

Sample strategies can be found in the reference section.

Examples from the field

Helping partners to understand the DTM: In Sudan IOM experienced that UN and other stakeholders initially found the DTM methodology difficult to understand, leading to misunderstandings. In response, a ‘DTM Working Group' for all DTM data users (UN, INGO, NGO) was set up, enabling partners to ask questions, gain clarity, and work with IOM to develop easy-to-read templates for sharing information. This working group succeeded in strengthening information sharing and buy-in to the DTM process, whilst informing the DTM team about specific needs of different sectors leading to tool adjustments.


For more information, please contact the DTM Support Team: DTMSupport@iom.int.

Key Points

  • Project document, strategy and operational plan need to be aligned to provide a clear vision of the scope of the DTM exercises, available resources, and steps required for successful implementation.
  • Partnerships are key to ensure that the data you collect finds operational use. Map your partners and work closely with all stakeholders at each step of the implementation.
  • It is key to be able to explain the data collection exercise to various stakeholders, including national authorities and beneficiaries, in a way that does not create false expectations.

References and Tools

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