Since 2011, Syria’s various conflicts have led to a multifaceted and prolonged humanitarian crisis with numerous stakeholders, shifting alliances, and divided geographies. Significant challenges and gaps remain despite the growing number of responders working in research and analysis. Navigating Syria’s humanitarian data and analysis ecosystem is as intricate as navigating its political situation, as the complexity of the various protracted conflicts and the intensity of external influence have led to many security challenges and access constraints.
These constraints have influenced the operating environment for data collection and analysis.
KEY FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
• Humanitarian analysis should be at the forefront of informing new donor strategies to reflect Syria’s evolving situation. It is impossible to design a humanitarian response without data and analysis sufficiently informing it. Funding for the humanitarian response is declining, making better analysis vital for prioritising the response.
• An increased focus on conflict sensitivity and context knowledge could ensure that the humanitarian response in Syria, including data collection, does not inadvertently worsen conditions for Syrians. To avoid this, humanitarian organisations should establish planning criteria that ensure that humanitarian assessments and analysis efforts work closely with existing dynamics.
• Research, analysis, and data collection partnerships between international and Syrianled organisations must shift from an implementation-focused relationship to an equitable partnership. This shift means involving local organisations in research design and validation. Where appropriate, and in conflict-sensitive terms, donors may consider clearer requirements for localisation and capacity-building efforts and adapted mechanisms to allow national researchers and organisations to access funding directly.
• Survey fatigue is omnipresent and influences data quality. Improved data-sharing protocols and the coordination of field data collection and research could reduce the number of assessments and survey fatigue. This change would improve data quality and ensure that the humanitarian response respects the needs and desires of the people it serves.
• Humanitarian workers need to increase their engagement with academic literature and publications from national and international think tanks. This shift could offer multidimensional perspectives on improving Syria’s analysis ecosystem.
• More anticipatory analysis could strengthen emergency preparedness and contingency and strategic planning. A forward-looking analysis is key for humanitarian responders to become more adaptable and responsive to context changes. This change could include outlooks, forecasting, and both sectoral and whole-of-sector threat and risk assessments.
• Ensuring an inclusive work environment and fostering gender-inclusive networking and mentoring opportunities will strengthen the role of female researchers. Those engaged in research and data collection could strengthen diversity and inclusivity in hiring practices to address structural barriers in recruitment. Making additional accommodations available for women would also address these barriers. Humanitarians involved in research and analysis may also develop networking and mentoring systems for women to provide guidance and support and create opportunities for knowledge-sharing, professional growth, and visibility.
• More effort is necessary to ensure that women can safely reach research locations or for researchers to reach women where they are. This could include establishing safe and secure transportation, adjusting research timelines to suit availability, or visiting women where they are most comfortable.
• Ensure research and analysis includes an intersectional approach to vulnerability, enabling policymakers, researchers, and humanitarian organisations to understand and address diverse and interconnected needs.