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  • Author: Daniel Maxwell, Erin Lentz, Kamau Wanjohi, Daniel Molla, Matthew Day, Peter Hailey, Christopher Newton, Anna Colom
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Humanitarian information systems typically provide analysis to predict crisis, assess needs, direct program resources, and assess short- to medium-term effects of programs. But much of this information is “chunky”—a single estimate of “needs,” for example, can be expected to direct resources and programming for up to a full year (IASC 2020). A single early warning scenario might be expected to provide information about potential hazards and the exposure of population to the ill-effects of that hazard for three to four months. And almost by definition, early warning analyses are grounded in known and likely hazards, “population in need” (PIN) figures are based on the impacts of known shocks, and program resources are (or should be) allocated on the basis of known and projected PIN figures. There have long been questions about the timeliness of humanitarian information and especially about the extent to which information initiates appropriate and timely actions (Buchanan-Smith and Davies 1995; Bailey 2012; Lentz et al. 2020). And there have always been concerns that circumstances can change in shorter time periods than standard humanitarian analysis procedures can pick up, so interest in real-time monitoring (RTM) as a component of humanitarian information systems has increased for at least the past decade or so (FSNAU 2015).
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Humanitarian Aid, Famine, Food Security, Humanitarian Intervention, Conflict, Nutrition
  • Political Geography: Middle East, Yemen, Somalia, Malawi, South Sudan, Africa
  • Author: Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Despite humanitarian information being more available than ever, confusion persists as to what the information means, how to analyze it and turn it into actionable evidence, and how to ensure that evidence-based actions are actually undertaken on a timely basis. The key points of confusion and issues include: The difference between current status information, projections of populations in need, and early warning of threats or hazards. The difference between “hard” numbers (implying things that have already happened and can be counted) versus probabilistic information (implying things that are likely, but not certain, to happen). Linkages, or the lack thereof, between information systems and policy or programmatic action to anticipate, mitigate, or respond to a shock or worsening situation. Despite the fact that conflict is the most common factor driving extreme humanitarian crises, conflict analysis is the weakest part of early warning and information systems. The information systems do not (or minimally) engage with the communities at risk of shocks or resulting humanitarian crises. This paper reviews these and a number of additional issues with contemporary humanitarian information and early warning systems. While the cases focus on the East Africa region, they have broader implications as well.
  • Topic: Disaster Relief, Humanitarian Aid, Food, Famine, Food Security, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Kenya, North Africa, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan
  • Author: Daniel Maxwell
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University
  • Abstract: Attention to the growing number of people caught in crises characterized by extreme and often protracted levels of food insecurity, malnutrition, and mortality is increasing. The information systems that track these conditions and inform humanitarian decision-making have expanded substantially in the past two decades and in many cases have reached a degree of unprecedented sophistication. These famine early warning systems have become increasingly sophisticated in the past decade, but they still tend to be based on several assumptions that are important to understand. This paper briefly describes existing famine early warning systems and outlines some of the assumptions on which they are based— both in theory and in practice. Then it gives four brief case studies of recent famine or “famine-like” events and pieces together the formal analysis process with an attempt to reconstruct events on the ground from a conflict analysis perspective—highlighting the extent to which the formal famine analysis did or did not deal with conflict analyses and the political kryptonite around the discussion of “intent.” It closes with a summary of gaps in the current system and an assessment of the risks of trying to address those gaps through famine EWS or alternative means.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Humanitarian Aid, Food, Famine, Food Security, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Kenya, Middle East, Yemen, North Africa, Ethiopia
  • Author: Helen Young, Elizabeth Stites, Anastasia Marshak
  • Publication Date: 11-2019
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University
  • Abstract: This is the third in a series of three briefing papers that form part of the Mind the Gap: Bridging the Research, Policy, and Practice Divide to Enhance Livelihood Resilience in Conflict Settings project. The first two briefing papers accompany regional case-study reports on Chad, South Sudan and the Sudan, and on Uganda that challenge many long-held assumptions about nutrition and livelihoods in countries struggling to recover from conflict, violence and fragility. FAO reviewed these regional case-studies on resilience and vulnerability at a two-day high-level workshop in Rome in November 2018. This brief summarizes the report highlights on the resilience and vulnerability of populations affected by conflict, including insights from the workshop participants and some implications for policies, programs, and future research.
  • Topic: Conflict Resolution, Conflict Prevention, Food, Famine, Food Security, Conflict
  • Political Geography: Uganda, Africa, Sudan, North Africa, Chad, South Sudan