About DTM


Jan 31 2023 Print

The Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) gathers and analyzes data to disseminate critical multi layered information on the mobility, vulnerabilities, and needs of displaced and mobile populations that enables decision makers and responders to provide these populations with better context specific assistance.

DTM Global Survey 2022

For detailed information about DTM operations around the globe please access the findings from our annual global survey through the link below and read the accompanying report available here

Why is DTM needed? 

DTM data enables decision-makers and humanitarian partners to maximize resources and deliver efficiently, better-targeted, humanitarian and post crisis programs. IOM provides DTM data as a common resource to all actors in humanitarian responses and actors engaged in supporting populations on the move.  

DTM History and Evolving Purpose 

DTM was conceptualized in 2004 to provide responders in Iraq with essential data on displacement to inform humanitarian interventions. Since then, it has been adapted for use in more than 80 countries, including in situations involving conflict, climatic shocks, complex emergencies, and prolonged crises.  

The use of DTM data has evolved and diversified over time. While DTM has maintained it’s original role as a data source for responders in the acute phase of crises, data collection exercises have also been developed and implemented to inform post crisis interventions. With a large operational footprint producing regularly updated data that can be analysed over time, DTM data has also found a role in informing policy and research.  

How is DTM Data Collected? 

A Decentralized Approach 

All DTM operations use data collection approaches outlined in the DTM methodological framework.  Some core data such as population estimates, demographics, and locations are captured across all DTM exercises. While it is important to have some standardization to ensure comparability across country contexts, DTM exercises are designed to be adapted in order to tailor the data collection to meet the specific information needs of actors on the ground.  

Implementation may support a stakeholder with targeted information needs (e.g. actors that provide shelter support) or may be intended to contribute to common services and coordination more broadly. In other cases, implementation may be designed to support host governments.  

To collect context-specific data, DTM country teams work closely with the key stakeholders, including other UN agencies, national and international NGOs, as well as governments to shape the data collection exercise. The type of data collected, selection of the appropriate DTM methodology, populations captured, and locations assessed are all decided by country teams in close collaboration with their data users.   

Where Does DTM Collect Data? 

DTM data collection happens in locations or areas hosting the populations that are being targeted for support or assistance.  Depending on the exercise and operational data needs, data may be collected at displacement locations or locations with high human mobility. Examples of these locations include; internal displacement camps, informal settlement, and communities hosting displaced people, among others. Where data is collected on mobility flows, this may be locations like a border crossing point, bus station or ferry terminals.  

Data may also be collected from key informants at higher administrative levels, this may be the mayor of a town, district authority, or other actor with credible and verifiable data about the administrative area and populations targeted for data collection. 

Identifying Locations for Assessment 

Identifying locations that need to be included in the data collection exercise is a key stage in collecting data on the numbers, demographics and needs of displaced populations. DTM uses the administrative geography of the context in which it is being implemented as a basis for this process and includes data collection methodologies that can be implemented at different administrative levels. Administrative levels are the geographic subdivisions of territories into areas of responsibility for government actors. Administrative subdivisions are different from context-to-context and have a wide range of names and layers. Some examples include; villages, towns, cities, regions, counties, or states. 

The administrative level at which data is collected is decided by DTM country teams in close collaboration with their data users. Irrespective of the administrative level of the assessment, DTM teams determine which areas in a country are hosting the target populations in collaboration with government representatives at different administrative levels, starting with the highest level and working down to the level relevant for the assessment. 

Who is Involved in Data Collection? 

DTM exercises are implemented by teams based in the countries where data is collected. These teams vary in size and are composed of professionals with a range of profiles, including data collection operations experts, database specialists, geographic information systems specialists, analysts and teams of enumerators, amongst others.  

 Key Informants 

Many DTM methodological approaches rely on a large and diverse network of Key Informants (KIs). To collect reliable and context-based data, DTM conducts in-depth interviews with people who have credible and verifiable data on a location, population, or thematic area targeted for assessment. These are individuals who are considered well placed to provide information based on their access to data, or their role in the community. 

KIs can be selected from a wide pool of roles within the community including local government authorities, local/community leaders (religious or tribal), local actors and professionals (health workers, teachers, local red cross workers) and others. Multiple KIs may be identified to provide information on a specific, topic, area or location depending on their field of expertise or access to credible sources of information. 

How Often is Data Collected?

Periodicity refers to the frequency of data collection. The periodicity of DTM exercises is determined by the type of assessment, context of data collection, and by DTM country teams in collaboration with their data users. Depending on the urgency of data needs, method of data collection, and mobility dynamics in the context, data can be collected and shared with varying periodicity; from daily or weekly, to monthly or quarterly, or even annually.