Language maps and data

CLEAR Global’s Language Data Initiative is putting language on the map in the humanitarian and development sector.

There is little information available on the languages crisis-affected people speak and understand. Humanitarians often develop communication strategies without reliable data on literacy, languages spoken, or preferred means of communication. The result too often is that crisis-affected people struggle to communicate with humanitarian organizations in a language they understand. Women, children, older people, and people with disabilities are often at the greatest disadvantage because they are less likely to understand international languages and lingua francas.

We are supporting organizations to develop language-informed programs and communication strategies through language data research and analysis..

Data by country

Datasets and maps to help understand which languages are spoken where.

Language questions

Pre-formatted and translated questions for language data collection.

Your input and feedback can help us make language data as accessible and useful as possible.

Get in touch with us.


Learn more about the state of language data globally, explore our Global Language Data Review story map and dashboard.

Tools and resources

Five easy steps to integrate language data into humanitarian and development programs

Data on the languages of affected people is as important for meeting their needs as data on their age and gender. This tool is a quick reference guide to your options on how to use language data at different stages of planning and delivering aid programs.

Brief: The 2021 multi-sector needs assessments should collect data on the languages of affected people

Read the brief in English or French.

This brief argues that MSNAs are a critical opportunity to strengthen the evidence base for effective and accountable humanitarian response plans. It provides recommended language and communication questions, and key considerations on how to include them in MSNAs.


Blog: Language data fills a critical gap for humanitarians

This blog highlights the first efforts to provide openly available language data for humanitarian contexts in nine countries. The datasets are the result of a partnership between Translators without Borders and University College London.

Global literacy map by gender

This map highlights the gender difference in adult literacy in individual countries. Women’s literacy rates are often lower than men’s. Orange shading indicates countries where male literacy rates are higher than female literacy rates. Blue shading indicates the few countries where female literacy rates are higher than male literacy rates.

Why we need to collect data on the languages of crisis-affected people (PDF)

This infographic highlights the challenges we face when we fail to incorporate language data into humanitarian decision making. In order to address those challenges, we propose four key questions to include in all humanitarian data collection efforts.

View the infographic in English, Congolese Swahili, French and Lingala (Facile).

MSNA language data can help humanitarians communicate better with affected people (PDF)

This brief summarizes key language and communication findings from the 2019 Multi-Sectoral Needs Assessment in northeast Nigeria. It illustrates the potential for large-scale surveys of this kind to fill critical language and communication information gaps throughout the humanitarian sector.


Blog: When words fail: audio recording for verification in multilingual surveys

This blog discusses the potential to use audio to confirm consent and verify the accuracy of recorded survey results in multilingual environments. It focuses on a pilot project between Translators without Borders and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

Rapid guide to localizing and translating survey tools

This short guide helps humanitarian and development agencies avoid language and cultural biases when designing and administering surveys. This guide was developed by Translators without Borders and People in Need. It is available on the IndiKit website in English, French, and Portuguese.

The words between us: How well do enumerators understand the terminology used in humanitarian surveys?

This report demonstrates that languages is not a routine consideration in survey design. It concludes that enumerators often do not understand the words they must translate in surveys.

Putting language on the map in the European refugee response

This report highlights the challenges associated with not having reliable data on language in humanitarian crises. It focuses on assessments conducted in Greece, Italy, and Turkey and develops a series of recommendations which went on to form the basis of the TWB Language Data Initiative.