The Basics of Information Management

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0801/Kate Holt
A woman in a burqa unbinds her malnourished baby daughter so that she can be weighed, at a nutrition centre in the Khan Kalacha area of Kandahar, capital of Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. The baby’s eyes are rimmed with kohl. The centre is supported by UNICEF and its partner NGO, Afghan Health and Development Services. Due to ongoing conflict, few humanitarian groups can operate safely in the area.

Notes for facilitators:

  1. This session will need to be adapted for the specific context and how MRM information is managed within the country.
  2. Security of information is covered in Module 10: Security and Safety


  • To ensure that participants understand what they should do with incidents reports
  • For participants to be aware of the need for confidentiality and security of information
  • For participants to know how information is managed and shared at different levels and who has responsibility
Participants MRM Staff
MRM Coordinators
Session Plenary and groupwork
Time required 105 minutes
Introduction and groupwork - 45 minutes
Plenary - 60 minutes
Venue requirements Main training room
Equipment Flipcharts and marker pens
Resource person(s) 1 person with experience of managing information in a sensitive environment
Training materials Information Management Exercise [PDF]
Documents for participants MRM Field Manual Section G "Information Management"
Access to materials All the training materials are included in Folder Module 9A: The Basics of Information Management

Session Sequence

  1. Introduction to Information Management in Plenary (15 minutes)

    Ask participants what is meant by information management. Ensure that all key areas are listed from the below so that participants understand the range of elements in information management.

    Key aspects of information management:

    • Provision of incident reports
    • Transfer of information
    • Storage of information (could be database or a filing cabinet)
    • Physical management of information
    • Organisation / coordination of information
    • Analysis of information
    • Provision of reports
    • How we use information as an evidence base for advocacy
    • Confidentiality
    • Security and Accessibility of information
    • Institutional Memory, and Historical Record of Information
    • Providing feedback

  2. Groupwork (30 minutes)

    Divide participants into District level groups (for Regional Trainings - country groups) Provide the exercise sheet and ask them to discuss the questions and based upon their answers, develop a chart to illustrate the flow of information AND who has responsibility at different levels.

    Tell the groups to put up their charts on the wall.

    Tip: It is useful if this session is before a break and the groups can put up the charts during the break, to save workshop time.

  3. Plenary (60 minutes)

    Part One

    The first part of the plenary will be a walk around for each group to present on how information flow works in their situation and their understanding of it at the national level.

    Part Two
    Discuss the differences and reach a consensus on how information does and should flow in different contexts. Whilst each individual is only responsible for their own work, it is useful for MRM staff to understand the complete picture.

    Brainstorming: Lastly but importantly brainstorm on what we mean by confidentiality and how can we ensure information for MRM is kept confidential and yet be able to use for evidence-based advocacy.

    Key aspects of confidentiality:

    • Need to know basis
    • Reporting agency holds the detailed personal information but the MRM information system or service providers need only have minimal information
    • You cannot assure confidentiality if the interview is conducted with others present (e.g. in the village square)
    • If a group provides information together you cannot assure confidentiality 
    • Sources of information should remain confidential
    • No personal information to be shared with state armed forces or (non-state) armed groups except where specific advocacy has been requested and consent provided
    • Use codes or reference numbers for cases and/or organisations (keep in a different location)

    Note: Mention that confidentiality can only be broken when a person's life is in immediate danger.

    See MRM Field Manual for more details on all of the above.

    Tip: It should not be necessary to go into great detail on confidentiality as should have been covered in Module 8B: Information Gathering - The Basics but it is so important that useful to stress this again.

    Part Three
    Open discussion on aspects of information as is useful to the group. The following may be areas for discussion:

    • Use of databases. Note that the Annual SG's Report of 2005 called for, "Under the coordination and management of UNICEF, a task force on monitoring and reporting should establish and maintain a monitoring and reporting information database at the country level, which feeds into the central monitoring and reporting information database at the Headquarters level".
    • Information sharing protocols.
    • Provide an update on global or national developments on information management systems.

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