In the last year or so, the COVID-19 crisis has impacted the aid sector in multiple ways and on various topics. Humanitarian data management is no exception. In the past decade, information and data management has become more and more important in humanitarian responses. During this particular crisis, as conducting regular field data collection and exchanging with communities got more challenging, humanitarian actors were forced to adapt their data collection and information management practices. This very particular situation invites us to reflect on the difficulties faced by NGOs in Information Management (IM), the choices they made, how it fits into a larger reflection process in terms of discussing IM stakes and strengthening IM practices within the aid sector.
Since April 2020, CartONG has been implementing a project to support the humanitarian sector in adapting its Information Management and Monitoring & Evaluation response to the COVID-19 crisis. In the course of this initiative, our team has witnessed how operational NGOs adapted to the situation, as different phases of the crisis unfolded, as well as how their data and information management needs and practices evolved. We have also observed new trends in the sector (dashboarding, remote data collection) and reflected on the difficulties operational actors were facing in terms of data and information management.
Building on this enriching experience, this learning paper aims at providing an analysis of such evolutions, in particular looking at the impact of the crisis on internal information flows and responsibilities within aid NGOs and what the use of new IM tools meant in terms of IM practices. It also reflects on how these evolutions can help improve the quality of information produced by NGOs. CartONG’s perspective was complemented by the perspective of other H2H organizations and operational actors who have agreed to share their experience with us.