IOM and Human Mobility Indicators for Disaster Risk Reduction

By Daniel Salmon & Lorenzo Guadagno

How do people move when hazards strike? Where do they go? Why do some wait longer than others to flee? Why do some need not to flee at all, and some are not able to go anywhere? How long do people wait to go back home? And how do all these decisions influence their lives in the long term?

In line with current negotiations towards a post-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action on DRR and the 19th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC, the IOM is looking for answers to some of these questions in order to better understand how moving before, during and after disasters contributes to the resilience and vulnerability of people at risk. Over the next few months, together with its Country Offices in Pakistan, Zimbabwe, the Philippines, Haiti and Afghanistan and in collaboration with several research and academic institutes, IOM will be working to develop mobility-based indicators of risk and of risk reduction.

The indicators will try to quantify the influence of mobility on:

  • Exposure to natural hazards (e.g. % of people exposed as a consequence of moving into a high-risk area – in particular in informal urban settlements)
  • Disaster losses (e.g. loss to lives, health and livelihoods as a consequence of displacement due to disaster)
  • Preparedness (e.g. % of the population at risk included in evacuation plans)
  • Resilience (e.g. role of remittances in supporting risk reduction and recovery)

In addition, indicators will help the organization measure its engagement and its progresses in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR).

These efforts are consistent with the United Nations Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience, a common framework to guide, measure and evaluate DRR interventions of International Organizations at the country level. They will also help inform the post-2015 global agreement on DRR (HFA2).

By capturing the implications of mobility on resilience and vulnerability, the indicators will help create more precise and comprehensive risk assessment tools, for IOM and for other DRR actors.

IOM has already started working to identify existing expertise and initiatives in this area of work and is currently assessing the feasibility of different methods of analysis. The data will be collected as a part of active DRR and recovery programmes in different geographical contexts, and analyzed in collaboration with qualified scientific institutions.

IOM expects to have the preliminary results from this research available by mid-2014.

For more information please contact: Lorenzo Guadagno ( and Patrice Quesada (