Online collections of research for the humanitarian sector
This page describes online collections of research which provide evidence on the effectiveness of interventions in the humanitarian sector. These resources should be useful to policy makers, NGOs, front line professionals, donors and others involved in humanitarian action. If you wish to recommend additions to this list, please email email@example.com.
Currently, the list contains the following resources (you can read more about each of these by scrolling down this page): ALNAP, American University of Beiruit: Global Health Institute, Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub, The Campbell Collaboration, The Centre for Evidence-Based Practice, The Cochrane Library, ELRHA, EPPI Centre, Evidence Aid, Harvard Humanitarian Center, Health in Humanitarian Crisis Centre, HCRI, 3ie, International Rescue Committee, Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health, Oxfam, ReliefWeb, Tufts University (Humanitarian Evidence Program), and UNICEF.
ALNAP (Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance) is hosted by the Overseas Development Institute in London, UK and is a “global network of NGOs, UN agencies, members of the Red Cross/Red Crescent movement, donors, academics and consultants dedicated to learning how to improve response to humanitarian crises“. Its website states “that by improving the quality, availability and use of knowledge and evidence from previous responses we can make the system perform better and be more accountable”. ALNAP claims to have “the sector’s largest library of resources on humanitarian evaluation, learning and performance” including 14,847 ‘resources’, 658 ALNAP publications and 3,168 evaluations in April 2018. It promotes the use of evidence for resource allocation and strengthening the quality of evidence in humanitarian evaluations. ALNAP also organises training events, seminars, workshops and conferences.
American University of Beiruit: Global Health Institute (GHI)
Since its establishment the GHI has launched three interdisciplinary programs that reflect global health challenges impacting the region, as well as others in the Global South and beyond: the Conflict Medicine Program; the Refugee Health Program; and the Nutrition, Obesity and Related Disease Program. The programs have claimed an important role in the global health arena through their wide range of activities which cover applied research projects, capacity building, and outreach initiatives. They have also formed strategic partnerships with local and international stakeholders in health, aspiring to strengthen South-North collaborations among organisations and academic institutions.
Australian Disaster Resilience Knowledge Hub
The Knowledge Hub is a national, open-source platform that supports and informs policy, planning, decision making and contemporary good practice in disaster resilience.
The Campbell Collaboration “promotes positive social and economic change through the production and use of systematic reviews and other evidence synthesis for evidence-based policy and practice”. Its main focus is on the effectiveness of interventions in crime and justice, education, social welfare and international development. Many reviews in the Campbell Library, however, have relevance for interventions in the humanitarian sector. The Campbell Collaboration also provides a number of evidence portals and evidence databases. The Campbell Collaboration has a Knowledge Translation and Implementation Group, whose mission is “to enhance the impact of Campbell systematic reviews on policy and practice, as well as producing systematic reviews in the knowledge translation and implementation sciences”. The Collaboration also produces a Policy Brief Series, and provides training for researchers in how to undertake systematic reviews.
Centre for Evidence-Based Practice
The Centre for Evidence-Based Practice (CEBaP) is a non-profit global centre located in Belgium that uses scientific evidence to support humanitarian aid activities, including those of the Belgian Red Cross. CEBaP uses systematic reviews to provide this evidence for a range of humanitarian activities, including blood supply, development programs and emergency relief. In addition, CEBaP develops evidence-based guidelines that take account of practice experience and preferences of the target group. Finally, where gaps in the evidence base are identified, CEBaP facilitates the conduct of new field studies.
The Cochrane Library is an online collection of databases “that contain different types of high-quality, independent evidence to inform healthcare decision-making”. Some of the reviews within the Cochrane Library have relevance for interventions in the humanitarian sector. The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials includes some controlled evaluations of interventions in the humanitarian sector. The Cochrane Library is produced by an international organisation called Cochrane (formerly ‘The Cochrane Collaboration’), which also has a training arm that provides training in how to undertake systematic reviews, both online and at training events. Cochrane also publishes one of the leading handbooks for systematic reviews of the effects of interventions.
Elrha has a free and easy to use tool which holds every output from the work they fund through their two funding programmes – Humanitarian Innovation Fund (HIF) and Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) as well as anything produced or commissioned by ELRHA. There are a variety of publications, gap analyses and peer reviewed journals, to case studies and evaluations from across the diverse portfolio that ELRHA funds across the humanitarian community.
The EPPI-Centre at University College London, UK is committed to informing policy and professional practice with sound evidence. As such, it is involved in two main areas of work: systematic reviews and research use. The EPPI-Centre covers a wide range of sectors, including the humanitarian sector, providing access to primary studies, systematic reviews and other types of evidence synthesis, including The Database of EPPI-Centre Systematic Reviews and its Database of Primary Research can be searched in its evidence library. Evidence on the effectiveness of interventions in the humanitarian sector is also available. The EPPI-Centre’s work on evidence use focuses on process of research being made available, interpreted and applied in decision making in policy, practice and everyday life. This programme offers guidance, support and the study of research use. The EPPI Centre also provides courses and seminars on systematic reviews and evidence use, including an MSc in Systematic Reviews for Social Policy and Practice. The EPPI reviewer software is widely used as an end-to-end solution for all types of systematic review, allowing researchers to manage data from citation screening through to synthesis.
Evidence Aid has been championing an evidence-based approach in humanitarian action since 2004. Its mission is to alleviate suffering and save lives by providing the best available evidence on the effectiveness of humanitarian action and enabling its use. To this end, Evidence Aid has developed a range of resources, all of which are available free to all users via its website. These include Systematic Reviews of the effectiveness of interventions in the humanitarian sector covering disasters, humanitarian crises and other major emergencies. In addition, Evidence Aid provides Collections of evidence on interventions relevant to windstorms, earthquakes, Ebola, the health of refugees and asylum seekers in Europe, Zika and prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition in emergencies and humanitarian crises, along with some information from systematic reviews of topics other than the effectiveness of interventions. In addition, Evidence Aid provides access to collections of evidence via the Cochrane Library, relating to burns, post-traumatic stress disorder, and flooding and poor water sanitation. Each systematic review on the Evidence Aid website includes a summary of the review, as well as the full-text report. Most summaries are available in Spanish and French, as well as in English. Evidence Aid organises events with its partners to promote the use of evidence in the humanitarian sector. For example – an annual Humanitarian Evidence Week in November in collaboration with the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine at the University of Oxford, UK, and a series of Evidence Lounges. Humanitarian Evidence Week includes presentations, webinars, blogs and debates to highlight topics related to the generation, use and dissemination of evidence in the humanitarian sector. Evidence Lounges bring practitioners and members of the academic research community together to enhance collaborations and develop practical ways of using evidence in the humanitarian sector, including this practice guide. Evidence Aid also contributes to Evidence Live, an annual conference jointly hosted by the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine and the British Medical Journal, to encourage debate on the status and future direction for evidence-based health care and policy. Training Workshops are also organized by Evidence Aid provide information and learning on how to access and use evidence, how to conduct systematic reviews, and the importance of evaluations in the humanitarian sector. These workshops focus on how to use different types of evidence effectively, and are presented in ways that are accessible for people who may not have a background in research and evaluation.
Harvard Humanitarian Initiative
This is a university-wide academic and research center at Harvard University that brings an interdisciplinary approach to promoting understanding of humanitarian crisis as a unique contributor to global health problems and to developing evidence-based approaches to humanitarian assistance. The Humanitarian Academy is dedicated to educating and training current and future generations of humanitarian leaders. The aim is to create a professional pathway for students and practitioners of all levels in the humanitarian space and to serve as a prototype for other academic centers of excellence in humanitarian education.
Health in Humanitarian Crises Centre
The Health in Humanitarian Crisis Centre at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine generates primary research on public health in humanitarian crises, working closely with international humanitarian agencies and research centres in affected countries to address critical health challenges. A new 4-year research and capacity-building programme, RECAP, was launched in 2018, and focusing on decision-making and accountability in response to humanitarian crises and epidemics. It also offers courses for practitioners through modules on conflict and health, short courses and a free online MOOC on Health in Humanitarian Crises. The Crisis Centre organises every month free events where research topics are presented and discussed.
Humanitarian and Conflict Research Institute (HCRI)
HCRI is a global centre for the study of humanitarianism and conflict response, global health, international disaster management and peacebuilding. Work is driven by a desire to inform and support policy and decision makers, to optimise collaborations between partner organisations, and to foster increased understanding and debate in the field. Bringing together all the disciplines of medicine and the humanities to achieve these goals, HCRI aims to facilitate improvements in crisis response on a global scale, while providing a centre of excellence for practitioners in emergencies and conflicts.
International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie)
3ie was established in 2008 to support the generation and effective use of high-quality evidence to inform decision-making and improve the lives of people living in poverty in low- and middle-income countries. One of 3ie’s thematic areas covers evidence of effectiveness in the humanitarian sector. 3ie offers four searchable databases online (). Two of these, the 3ie Database of Systematic Reviews and the Database of Impact Evaluations catalogue evidence of the effectiveness of interventions in the humanitarian sector. These databases also include systematic reviews and impact evaluations on the broader landscape of international development, many of which have relevance to interventions in emergency situations. The two other databases on the 3ie website are collections of Evidence Gap Maps and Briefs. The Database of Evidence Gap Maps provides a visual display of completed and ongoing systematic reviews and impact evaluations in a sector or sub-sector, structured around a framework of interventions and outcomes. The 3ie Database of Briefs provides summaries of evidence from 3ie-supported impact evaluations, systematic reviews, replications and evidence gap maps. They also include summaries of 3ie’s research programmes, lessons from grant making and instances of uptake and use of evidence.
International Rescue Committee (IRC)
The International Rescue Committee is a long-established humanitarian agency that offers emergency aid and long-term assistance to refugees and those displaced by war, persecution, or natural disaster. It uses research and evaluation to guide the way in which it designs programmes and delivers services. The IRC has an interactive Outcomes and Evidence Framework that supports humanitarian and development professionals to design effective programs. The IRC’s collection of systematic reviews is drawn from the databases of 3ie, the Campbell Collaboration Library, the Cochrane Library and DfIDs Research for Development website. The IRC also has a collection of Evidence Maps on health, education, economic wellbeing, safety, and power, and cross-cutting maps that focus on cash transfer interventions, service delivery interventions, and interventions in humanitarian emergencies. IRC has also adapted 3ie’s evidence gap maps along with and prepared short visual training on how to navigate its version them this tool.
Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health
The Johns Hopkins Center for Humanitarian Health is a Johns Hopkins academic program conducted jointly by the Bloomberg School of Public Health, the School of Medicine and the School of Nursing. It is hosted at and administered by the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and draws upon a variety of disciplines, including epidemiology, demography, emergency and disaster medicine, health systems management, nutrition/food security, environmental engineering, mental health, political science and human rights. The Center collaborates with a variety of organizations including national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), multilateral and UN organizations, and Governmental agencies, as well as other research institutions on field-based research and humanitarian projects. The Center undertakes innovative research in humanitarian health science to discover and apply evidence-based strategies for prevention, preparedness, response, recovery and reintegration.
Oxfam is a global authority on international development and humanitarian response. Its Policy, Practice and Research Division offers free access to over more than 4,500 publications including training manuals, research reports and policy briefs, as well as programme overviews, staff profiles and our practitioner blogs. This also includes a collection of systematic reviews and other types of evidence synthesis that report on the effectiveness of interventions in humanitarian emergencies.
ReliefWeb is a humanitarian information source on global crises and disasters. It is a specialized digital service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Reliefweb provides reliable and timely information, enabling humanitarian workers to make informed decisions and to plan effective response. Reliefweb collects and delivers key information on humanitarian issue, including the latest reports, maps and infographics from trusted sources.
Tufts University – Feinstein International Center: Humanitarian Evidence Program
Humanitarian actors and researchers have amassed evidence about the state of knowledge in the humanitarian sector, including assessments of what works and what does not work. Synthesizing this information and making it readily available to policymakers and humanitarian practitioners remains challenging. The Humanitarian Evidence Program produced a series of reviews to distill humanitarian evidence and communicate it to key stakeholders in order to enable better decision-making and improve humanitarian policy and practice. The initiative was a DfID funded partnership between Oxfam (see below) and the Feinstein International Center (FIC) at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
UNICEF – Office of Research-Innocenti
UNICEF is committed to ensuring that its policy and programme interventions are evaluated, and expanded, or replicated elsewhere, only if supported by reliable evidence. To this end, the UNICEF – Office of Research has collaborated with RMIT University, Better Evaluation, and 3ie to produce methodological briefs and videos on counterfactual evaluation designs. The series covers the building blocks of impact evaluation, strategies for causal attribution, and different data collection and analysis methods.
If you know of other sources of synthesised evidence that should be listed here, please contact Evidence Aid.