MIGRANT(h) - Digital data innovation in health impact assessment: new methods to track and respond to the migration and humanitarian crisis in Northern Mozambique


In northern Mozambique, a volatile combination of natural disasters, violence and conflict, and COVID-19 have all combined to create a humanitarian crisis where it is estimated that over half a million people have already been displaced, many of them women, children or other vulnerable groups. Until now, tracking such humanitarian crises has been done through on the ground key informant interviews and primary data collection. Disaster response could benefit from a more systematic, long-term risk management and mitigation approach, such as that offered by health impact assessment (HIA). However, the collection of primary data in time-sensitive, rapidly changing situations, which may be further complicated by safety concerns and the pandemic, remains a problem.


In this project, we propose to innovate disaster response by using readily available digital data and tools (i.e. satellite data, machine learning techniques) and HIA methods (e.g. semi-quantitative risk assessment, quantitative calculation of health status of migratory populations at baseline) to estimate and geo-locate the population displacements and environmental changes (e.g. destruction of infrastructure, flooding) caused by the crisis and identify the likely short and long-term health effects of these population displacements.


The study will provide important new evidence for decision-making by policymakers and health officials in Mozambique, as well as researchers in migration and environmental studies in general. In the longer term, the acute crisis in northern Mozambique offers an opportunity to serve as a case study on how tracking of population displacement can be conducted in real time and demonstrate how big data and HIA methodologies can be used in tracking, predicting, and responding to migratory flows, acute and long term environmental crises, and resultant health concerns, providing a new, more sustainable framework for disaster response.


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