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Afghanistan: Data Sharing Protocol [EN/Dari/PS]


In Afghanistan and around the world, humanitarians increasingly collect, analyse and store large quantities of sensitive data, including individual beneficiary data. The need to coordinate humanitarian responses and ensure that no one is left behind make sharing operational data essential to providing assistance to everyone who needs it. But it has also given rise to concerns about the safe handling of this data and the rights of individuals to have their data protected (do no harm).

This purpose of this data sharing protocol (DSP) is to articulate the HCT’s commitment to strong dataprotection policies and practices, and to provide guidance on core principles that signatories commit to working toward. The DSP reflects existing humanitarian policiesand established best practice for data use and outlines agreed expectations and minimum standards for the sharing of data between aid actors and with the Government in Afghanistan. The protocol aligns with commitments in the Joint Operating Principles, the IDP SOPs, and the HCT Compact. It draws from the IASC Policy on Protection, which provides clear guidance on data and information sharing, collection and management:

“Data and information collection, sharing and management...must adhere to data protection standards, principles of confidentiality and a defined purpose. It must be done in a manner that protects the individuals and groups providing information from harm, including through the use and respect of informed consent.”

An Accountability to Affected People (AAP) lens has been used to develop this protocol and to emphasise that people affected by crises in Afghanistan are the owners of and decision-makers regarding their data. No decisions shall be taken for them without their explicit consent. To be clear, this data sharing protocol is not a legally binding instrument, nor an SOP in itself. It does not replace individual agency policies1 or remove the need for bilateral data-sharing agreements. Rather, it is envisaged as an umbrella guidance document. Applying the principles in this protocol will build trust and confidence between aid actors and with the Government and, will ultimately better protect the people who receive humanitarian assistance.

This document should not be considered as static but will necessarily evolve to reflect new issues that arise in data collection and sharing over time, as well as new circumstances in Afghanistan that frame the humanitarian response. The protocol further recognises a limited awareness of privacy and data protection issues in-country, both in the humanitarian community and in government. As such, the adoption of the DSP will need to be followed up with extensive training and awareness raising.


Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
08 Oct 2020
Document type: 
Coordination hub(s): 
National Level Coordination