IOM Uses Biometrics to Aid Displaced in Democratic Republic of the Congo

DRC - IOM has initiated the biometric verification of internally displaced people (IDPs) during food assistance in displacement sites in North Kivu province in the Eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC.)

The verification exercise, designed to increase accountability and combat fraud, started in February 2015 and will cover displacement sites in Nzulo, Buhimba and Shasha.

The lack of identity documents for IDPs in the Eastern DRC poses a challenge in targeting humanitarian assistance. Almost 80 per cent of adults living in sites having no form of identity documents. In response, IOM launched a biometric registration pilot project in eight displacement sites around the city of Goma in June 2014. 

Between June 2014 and April 2015, IOM took the fingerprints of nearly 16,000 IDPs. In the context of food distributions, the collected information is used to ensure that humanitarian aid reaches the most vulnerable and avoids duplication and fraud.

“Taking fingerprints allows unique identification of each beneficiary to avoid double registration or fraud,” said Flora Camain, Information Management Officer at IOM North Kivu. “The aid goes to those registered in the database. That way we can ensure that the aid benefits the individuals for whom it is meant.”

The project was developed to ensure accountability to affected populations, after concerns had been voiced over double registrations benefiting some IDPs, at the expense of others in need of assistance.

The biometric verification operations are implemented in close collaboration with partners, including the World Food Programme (WFP) and World Vision International (WVI), which respectively provide and distribute food. Première-Urgence – Aide Médicale Internationale (PU-AMI), IOM’s camp manager partner and the Commission Nationale pour les Réfugiés (CNR), which represents the Congolese authorities in displacement sites.

The project will be extended to other IOM-coordinated displacement sites in North Kivu and partnerships will be expanded to include other service providers operating in displacement sites.

In DRC, IOM jointly leads the Displacement Sites Working Group (DSWG) with UNHCR, representing the Camp Coordination and Camp Management sector in the country.

IOM ensures effective management and coordination of the humanitarian response for 69,000 IDPs in 29 displacement sites. This includes advocating for more humanitarian assistance and the development of strategies for reliable identification and registration of IDPs.

For more information, please contact Flora Camain at IOM DRC, Tel.: +243 (0)81 512 4095 / +243 (0)97 325 1666, Email: