The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) is a system to track and monitor displacement and population mobility. It is designed to regularly and systematically capture, process and disseminate information to provide a better understanding of the movements and evolving needs of displaced populations, whether on site or en route.

Conceptualized in 2004 in Iraq, for the IDP assessments and monitoring exercises, the DTM has been continuously refined and enhanced through years of operational experience in countries in both conflict and natural disaster settings. It delivers essential role in providing primary data and information on displacement, both in country and at the global level. It is comprised of four distinct components:

DTM Components

  • Mobility Tracking: regularly tracks numbers, locations and cross-sectorial needs of observed populations to target assistance 
  • Flow Monitoring: tracks movements of mobile populations at key transit points to identify scale and direction of flows and reasons for movement
  • Registration: individual and household level information used for functional identity management in beneficiary selection, vulnerability targeting and programming
  • Surveys: gathers specific information through sampling from the population of interest, in regard to return intention, displacement solutions, community perception, and other thematic areas

DTM data includes information relevant to various humanitarian sectors such as water and sanitation, health, food and protection, making the resultant DTM data useful to broad range of humanitarian and development actors. The system flags urgent concerns (e.g. protection concerns, food shortages, sanitation problems, diseases, etc.) to relevant sectorial coordination focal points or National Disaster Management Agencies for follow up to help ensure that displaced populations are living in conditions which meet minimum requirements as defined by international guidelines. The DTM is also an accountability mechanism, reflecting complaints in assistance and perceptions on responsiveness to identified needs.

In addition to being systematically deployed in medium to large-scale humanitarian response operations, DTM has also proven to be highly effective as a preparedness tool, as well as in support of the recovery and transition phase of the response. Integrating DTM into capacity building activities, mapping of potential evacuation and displacement sites, and setting up the DTM prior to a disaster are some examples of how the DTM can be employed as an effective preparedness measure. The implementation in Haiti (since 2010) and Mali (since 2012) has also shown DTM’s aptitude to support the recovery and return process.