Humanitarian response in Ukraine is powered by population data

16 May 2022

Updated population projections provided by UNFPA are being used to guide the humanitarian response in Ukraine. The organization played a central role in creating the first ever Common Operational Datasets on Population Statistics (COD-PS) featuring data for 27 Oblasts (regions) and 30 of the largest cities. Guided by the COD-PS data disaggregated by age, sex and Oblast, UNFPA to date has delivered 13 metric tons of reproductive health supplies, medicines and equipment to health facilities in Dnipro, Kharkiv, Kyiv and Zaporizhzhia to cover the immediate reproductive health needs of a population of 500,000 people. Moreover, more than 1 million people, mostly women, received information about women’s health, gender-based violence and psychological advice for families prepared by UNFPA experts and partners.

The use of UNFPA’s COD-PS reaches far beyond supporting the coordination of the organization’s own relief efforts: The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) posted the dataset on the UN Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform on 5 March. Since then, the UNFPA COD-PS on Ukraine has been downloaded over 500 times and was used, for example, by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as the sampling frame for three waves of a phone-based survey on internal displacement within Ukraine.

Humanitarian teams, experts and top global population modelers are now using the data as the basis for additional Ukraine population estimates and have approached UNFPA to support further data coordination efforts. UNFPA’s Humanitarian Office and Technical Division’s Population and Development Branch are now working closely with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), to align displacement data updates with the baseline population data as the situation rapidly unfolds. 

Globally, demand for COD-PS is on the rise. Updates are required for Humanitarian Needs Assessments, for example. UNFPA has carried out an assessment of data needs and developed technical guidelines to systematize production. In addition to its long-standing support of censuses worldwide, UNFPA has recently incorporated the Centre of Excellence on Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS), stepping up efforts in this area. These mutually complementary data sources enable UNFPA to produce COD–PS, working closely with governments worldwide to access the “best available data” to date. 

In 2021, UNFPA updated COD-PS datasets for 79 countries across all UNFPA regions, for use in humanitarian preparedness and response. COD-PS data has been used, for example, to estimate the population in the path of a hurricane or at risk of a volcanic eruption. Baseline population data, disaggregated by age and sex at the lowest geographic administrative level possible, is a crucial tool for targeted humanitarian preparedness and operational response. 
The United Nations recently launched a humanitarian appeal that uses the UNFPA COD-PS as its key source for assessing needs in Ukraine and determining the necessary funds to support populations under duress. A side event at the Commission on Population and Development, held on 28 April and co-hosted by UNFPA and the Government of Moldova, UNHCR and IOM, further explored why up-to-date and disaggregated population data is a crucial step towards humanitarian preparedness.

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