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Why and How to Conduct Impact Evaluations in Humanitarian Emergencies

Anastasia Aladysheva and Tilman Brück contributed to a working paper published by the International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) on theory-based impact evaluations in the context of humanitarian emergencies. Despite the widespread occurrence of humanitarian emergencies such as epidemics, earthquakes, droughts, floods and violent conflict and despite the significant financial resources devoted to humanitarian assistance, systematic learning from such interventions using rigorous theory-based impact evaluations are very rare.

The objective of this paper is therefore to examine the extent to which scientific impact evaluation methods can provide evidence to help improve the effectiveness and efficiency in humanitarian action. This paper explores the methodological options and challenges associated with collecting and generating high quality evidence needed to answer key questions about the performance of humanitarian assistance, including whether assistance is reaching the right people, at the right time, is bringing about the desired changes in their lives (effectiveness) and is being delivered in the right doses, ways and with manageable costs (efficiency). With the help of six case studies and drawing on real-life examples from the small but growing academic literature, we demonstrate how impact evaluation methods be used successfully and in an ethical manner to learn about how to improve humanitarian assistance. A key lesson from our review is that it pays to be prepared. Much information is being collected these days about the risks of various emergencies unfolding, be they sudden onset or slow onset emergencies. Hence national actors and international donors can prepare for these events and for conducting meaningful impact evaluations. Given the overwhelming needs and the lack of funds, doing more with limited resources is a key challenge for humanitarian assistance and impact evaluation is one way of achieving this.
Puri, J., A. Aladysheva, V. Iversen, Y. Ghorpade and T. Brück (2014). “What Methods May Be Used in Impact Evaluations of Humanitarian Assistance?”. 3ie Working Paper, Nr. 22. The full paper can be found here.

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Workshop report “Children on the Move: Building Migration Data Capacities” published

The report of the expert workshop “Children on the Move: Building Migration Data Capacities” has been published, including the input by Wolfgang Stojetz (ISDC) on the measurement of exposure to extreme adversity, carried out through the administration of household surveys. The study specifycally measured displaced persons’ experiences, behavior and welfare under situations of violent conflict, […]

New paper on the relationship between food security and violent conflict

Charles Martin-Shields and Wolfgang Stojetz published an article in World Development on the interlinkages between food security and violent conflict. This article emphasizes the endogeneity that characterizes the coupling between food (in)security and violent conflict. The authors make three contributions. First, they define conflict and food security using the standard Uppsala Conflict Data Program and the FAO databases, and illustrate […]

Money Can’t Buy Love But Can it Buy Peace?

Tilman Brück’s and Neil Ferguson’s letter to the Editor on the peace process in Northern Ireland has been published in the Economist. The letter refers to their study “Money Can’t Buy Love But Can it Buy Peace? Evidence from the EU Programme for Peace and Reconciliation” that looked at the second wave of PEACE programmes and […]