Coding Methods

The Targeting of Infrastructure in the Middle East (TIME) database is based on news reports, reports by humanitarian and human rights organizations, UN reports, newspapers, and other primary and secondary sources, including occasionally private owners/operators of the targeted infrastructure. In addition, instances of targeted infrastructure were found through the search engine, Lexus Nexus, using BOOLEAN coded searches.  The BOOLEAN searches were developed on a trial/error basis to increase efficiency and consistency between searches. The following is an example of a possible search for instances of water infrastructure destruction in Yemen:

((Country(Yemen) AND BODY(destroy* OR bomb* OR airstrike OR damag* OR harm* OR sabotage* OR attack*) w/5 BODY(water) w/3 BODY(pipe OR station OR plant OR utility OR factory OR facility OR dam)))

The scope of coded instances covers targeting of energy, water, sanitation, health, and transportation infrastructure in the MENA region.  Infrastructure is categorized as follows:

  • Energy: relates to energy production/distribution (e.g. oil pipeline, powerlines)
  • Water: relates to drinking water or irrigation (e.g. water treatment plant)
  • Transportation: relates to transporting people or goods (e.g. airport, bridge)
  • Energy/Water: relates to both producing energy and water (e.g. hydroelectric dam)
  • Health: relates to citizen health (e.g. hospital)

In addition, where entire cities, ports, or neighborhoods are placed under siege, these locations are added as well for some countries (e.g. Yemen and Syria).

Reports of instances that lack identifying information such as dates, location, etc., are not included in this portion of the database.  This is to ensure no instance is double counted.   Aggregated reports (e.g. “X number of bombings over the last three years…”) are not included in the database. Rather, such data is collected in separate files to provide a more comprehensive survey of the impacts of targeting of environmental infrastructure.

To ensure consistent coding and replicability, the Coding Handbook provides detailed instructions and examples of coded instances. When coding, the instance is first given an Instance ID, which consists of the country code (e.g. “S” for Syria, “E” for Egypt, “I” for Iraq, “Le” for Lebanon, “L” for Libya, “Y” for Yemen, “OPT” for Palestine) and the next available number. Each unique # refers to the destroyed infrastructure within each incident.  In the case that more than one structure is impacted by an attack, a Unique ID is used.

We categorize type of actor involved in the destruction according to the following groups:

  • Internal National Government:
  • External National Government:
  • International Coalition:
  • Internal Non-State Group:
  • External Non-State Group:

If the particular group or type of group responsible is known, then the name of the specific actor involved in the destruction is given.

We categorize the type of actor targeted (i.e, the group that the infrastructure destruction was meant to harm) according to:

  • Internal National Government:
  • External National Government:
  • International Coalition:
  • Internal Non-State Group:
  • External Non-State Group:

We also code for intentionality (that is, whether the destruction was planned to destroy or harm a specific group), whether the damage was active versus collateral, and the impact on human lives lost and harm to the natural ecosystem.

The data is also coded geospatially using latitude and longitude where possible.  These are based on locations provided in the report (e.g. city/neighborhood).