Moldova’s First Data Review Room in Ștefan Vodă Figure 1. Ministry of Labour and Social Protection, Stefan Voda rayon authorities, USAID Moldova, and Data for Impact representatives at the launch of Moldova’s first Data Review Room in January 2023. © 2023 Data for Impact/Proimagine February 23, 2023 By Camelia Gheorghe and Matthew LaBarbera, Data for Impact Since February 2022, nearly 8 million refugees have fled from Ukraine and into its neighboring states. The Republic of Moldova has seen about 670,000 refugees cross its borders.[i] While the majority have made their passage into other countries, as of January 2023, over 100,000 refugees remain—with many citing secure accommodations, access to humanitarian assistance, proximity to friends and family, and physical proximity to Ukraine as reasons for staying.[ii] As Moldova’s refugee response develops, the understanding of the needs of those displaced by the conflict grows accordingly. Earlier assessments, which were integral in formulating the immediate response and establishing humanitarian monitoring, do not offer the level of resolution needed for this stage of the war, as refugees’ needs and circumstances are still not fully known.[iii] A more comprehensive picture of the situation on the ground requires aggregating data across assessments, databases of local authorities, records of the border police, and other monitoring and reporting efforts. Spanning these information gaps and bringing more clarity to uncertain situations of care are critical priorities for the government of Moldova and humanitarian aid groups. A more targeted and efficient data assessment and use approach is needed to understand the conditions of refugee children and families and drive decision making towards the greatest impact. What is a Data Review Room?A Data Review Room facilitates regular, timely, and targeted review of data available on refugee children and families transiting or living in Moldova, using a technology-enabled analytics and visualization platform. The platform aggregates and triangulates data from multiple sources to facilitate stakeholder-led decision making to inform planning at the local level for refugee surveillance and response. These data sources include refugee registers, refugee placement center registers, Blue Dots databases found at borders, police department databases, UNCHR data, UAHelp information system, and the Ministry of Labor and Social Protection’s aid.md. The Data Review Room will eventually serve as a training site for technical practitioners and decision makers across different fields, such as education, healthcare, and social support. Among these efforts in building this new approach is the establishment of a Data Review Room in Ștefan Vodă rayon. First of its kind in the country, the room was launched on January 27, 2023, within the rayon’s Directorate General for Social Assistance and Family Protection, through the technical assistance of the Data for Impact (D4I) project with financial support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). Designed to facilitate a systematic and timely review of available data for refugees, the room will allow stakeholders to analyze and visualize data triangulated from multiples sources to facilitate action planning at the local level for refugee surveillance and response. As Alexei Buzu, Minister of Labor and Social Protection, noted at the opening, “The initiative to create the first Data Review Room in Ștefan Vodă is welcome, because all the right decisions regarding the necessary interventions in a certain field of activity can only be taken based on accurate data.” He hopes to the see the facility strengthen their capacity for evidence-based decision making and allow the rayon to “prepare for future interventions in real time.” Despite being a rural rayon, Ștefan Vodă is an ideal location for the Data Review Room. It was initially the entry point for many fleeing Ukraine, lying a mere 50 kilometers from Odesa, and the prolonged conflict could induce further displacement in the region. Vasile Maxim, President of Ștefan Vodă rayon, stated: “Since the first days of the war, our rayon received a large number of refugees, which needed assistance and guidance. In order to use the over-solicited rayon’s resources wisely, we needed real data and information to be examined within the commissions organized at the local level. It was quite difficult to get this data in real time for us to make quick decisions”. Now, greater attention should be paid towards providing care and assistance to the rayon’s more than 1,000 refugees, over a third of whom are children, and towards preparing for future needs and potential emergencies.[iv] The Data Review Room provides a platform for more comprehensive, multi-sectoral analyses that will augment understanding of the challenges faced by refugees, hosts, and the rayon across different, though often intersecting, domains, such as social assistance, education, health care, and child protection. Scott Hocklander, USAID Moldova Mission Director, commented that this more extensive, data-driven approach, “will address the needs of refugees, ensuring at the same time that needs of host communities are also catered for.” D4I’s role is to support the government and its partners at the central and local levels to efficiently respond to the challenges brought about by the refugee crisis. Through generating useful data, strengthening the data review capacity, and promoting a culture of data use, D4I strives to support the central and local authorities in taking the best decisions to improve the lives of the Ukrainian refugees currently residing in the Republic of Moldova and of the host communities. Figure 2. During the event launch, D4I demonstrated how to use the platform. © 2023 Data for Impact/Proimagine Moreover, the Data Review Room is intended to not merely serve the current evidence needs of the rayon, as demanded by the refugee crisis, but to be multipurpose and adaptable. D4I plans to standardize procedures and train staff so the room will be a durable fixture of Ștefan Vodă’s strategy for evaluation and planning. Since 2020, D4I has worked in partnership with the Moldova Ministry of Labor and Social Protection, National Social Assistance Agency, Territorial Social Assistance Structures, universities, and technical colleges. D4I strengthens the capacity of central and local stakeholders to collect, analyze, and use data to make evidence-based decisions to inform policies and programs that positively impact children in adversity. Watch this recording of the Data Review Room Launch from January 27, 2023. To learn more about D4I’s work in Moldova, visit https://www.data4impactproject.org/countries/moldova/. _____________________________________ References: [i] REACH, Moldova: Area-Based Assessment (ABA): Chisinau and Stefan Voda, January 2023. https://data.unhcr.org/en/documents/details/98651 [ii] Ibid. [iii] ReliefWeb, Moldova Humanitarian Situation. https://reliefweb.int/country/mda [iv] “Republica Moldova inaugurează în premieră o Cameră de examinare a datelor.” Ministerul Muncii și Protecţiei Sociale (gov.md) _____________________________________ Author bios: Camelia Gheorghe, MSc, has more than 25 years of M&E and social development experience in countries of European Union, Western Balkans, Central Asia, Ukraine and Moldova. She has been with Palladium for five years, currently serving as D4I Chief of Party in the Republic of Moldova. Matthew LaBarbera is an administrative support specialist with D4I, based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.