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Humanitarian Evidence Programme

An Oxfam member of staff helps to carry one family's newly received non-food items home in UN House, Juba, South Sudan. Credit: Anita Kattakhuzy/Oxfam

At a glance

The Humanitarian Evidence Programme reviews, distils and communicates evidence in order to improve humanitarian policy and practice.


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 Programme is producing a series of reviews to distil humanitarian evidence. We will communicate this evidence to key stakeholders in order to enable better decision-making and improve humanitarian policy and practice.

The Humanitarian Evidence Programme staff and review teams present at pre-eminent events and led a submission to the World Humanitarian Summit, 'Humanitarian evidence: Going beyond good intentions in reshaping aid' with a number of partners. By bringing together practitioners, researchers, policymakers, and donors, the programme hopes to leverage networks to ensure quality work and maximum impact.

This initiative is a DFID-funded partnership between Oxfam GB and the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University.

Our approach

The Humanitarian Evidence Programme aims to strengthen the evidence base of humanitarian policy and practice and to enhance the availability of this evidence-based research to decision-makers. This involves the following key activities:

  • Consulting key stakeholders in the humanitarian sector to identify the key research and questions for the respective literature and systematic reviews
  • Publishing guidance for conducting an evidence synthesis in the Humanitarian Evidence Programme
  • Engaging with researchers from low- and middle-income countries to ensure the diverse representation in the humanitarian conversation
  • Making requests for proposals from humanitarian researchers and practitioners to conduct the reviews in the identified areas. 
  • Assessing proposals and selecting researchers to carry out the reviews
  • Providing feedback on the draft reviews to ensure that the documents provide a rigorous synthesis and analysis of the evidence basis for each research area
  • Focusing on research uptake throughout the programme. Final reviews will leverage existing platforms and networks in innovative ways to communicate results, spark conversation about the role of evidence-based humanitarian research, and influence policy and practice

Questions for Evidence Synthesis

See our Guidance Note (PDF, 540kb) on conducting an evidence synthesis in the humanitarian sector.

Below is a list of questions currently underway. 

  • Nutrition review: What is the evidence on the relationship between recovery and/or cure rates and relapse, and between relapse and default and/or return defaults/episodes of default in the management of acute malnutrition in children under five in humanitarian emergencies?
  • Shelter review: What is the evidence on the effectiveness and efficiency of interventions that support affected populations' own shelter self-recovery processes following humanitarian crises? The shelter review team has set up their own web page.
  • Mental health review: What are the effects of mental health and psychosocial support (MHPSS) interventions delivered to populations affected by humanitarian emergencies and what are the barriers and facilitators of implementing and receiving these MHPSS interventions?
  • Child protection review: What is the impact of protection interventions on unaccompanied and separated children, during the period of separation, in humanitarian crises in low and middle-income countries (LMICs)?
  • Urban action review: What are the practices to identify and prioritise populations affected by urban humanitarian emergencies?
  • WASH review: What are the outcomes and impacts of WASH interventions during disease outbreaks in humanitarian emergencies in low and middle-income countries (LMICs)?
  • Pastoralist livelihoods: What is the impact of food aid on pastoralist livelihoods in humanitarian crises?
  • Market support: What is the impact of different market support interventions on household food security in humanitarian crises?

April 14th Event

This event is now finished. For more information, read Dr Ellie Ott's blog Who told you that? Inclusion, bias and humanitarian evidence synthesis.  

Evidence Synthesis in the Humanitarian Field: Challenges and opportunities

Evidence synthesis can assist actors to understand what works and what does not work, for whom, and in which contexts in humanitarian response. This discussion focused on insights from the process of synthesising evidence in three areas of the humanitarian field: shelter, child protection, and mental health. The event also invited a broader discussion of humanitarian evidence to improve policy and practice. The panel looked at: How can we tailor existing systematic review approaches to the realities of the type and quality of data in the humanitarian field? How can we critically appraise this evidence? What are some challenges in defining terminology in the humanitarian field, and how have teams overcome them? What are the limitations and potential for humanitarian evidence synthesis in terms of uptake and impact? 


Katharine Williamson
Save the Children UK - Synthesis on Child Protection of Unaccompanied and Separated Children

Katharine Williamson is the Senior Humanitarian Child Protection Advisor at Save the Children UK and co-lead of the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Action Assessment, Measurement & Evidence Working Group. She is a child protection in emergencies specialist with ten years field experience in conflicts and emergencies primarily in Africa and Asia, and 5 years consulting and advisory experience. She is a clinically trained Social Worker with Masters degrees in International Law and Forced Migration. Her areas of specialty include working with unaccompanied and separated children, children affected by armed conflict, and refugee and asylum seeking children. In her current role, she manages a team of advisors and emergency response personnel supporting emergency responses around the world, is involved in developing approaches to the protection of children with disabilities, and represents Save the Children in the Interagency Working Group on UASC.

Mukdarut Bangpan
EPPI-Centre, IOE - Synthesis on Mental Health & Psychosocial Support 

Dr Mukdarut Bangpan joined the EPPI-Centre in 2005. Her research interests include social interventions, health and well-being of children and women in developing countries and methodological development of systematic reviews. Mukdarut also teaches and provides support to research teams for carrying out systematic reviews in various topics including education, international development, health, and social policy. She completed a DPhil from University of Oxford and MBA from University of Illinois at Carbondale. Her thesis investigated the potential of family - involving HIV programmes for young Thai women, using qualitative investigation and systematic reviews.

Elizabeth Parker and Victoria Maynard
UCL - Synthesis on Shelter Self-Recovery

Elizabeth Parker's work has focused on disaster recovery, urban resilience and regeneration across a range of geographies since completing her MA in Development and Emergency practice at Oxford Brookes University. Originally trained as an architect, Elizabeth spent five years working for Arup, including on the Rockefeller Foundation-funded Asian Cities Climate Change Resilience Network (ACCCRN) and undertaking research for the IFRC on their post- 2004 tsunami shelter and disaster risk reduction programmes. Elizabeth also has significant Project Management experience, most recently delivering health care projects across Western Australia as part of the Royalties for Regions programme.

Victoria Maynard trained as an architect and has worked for organisations such as UN-Habitat and the IFRC since becoming involved in post-disaster reconstruction following the Indian Ocean tsunami. She is currently completing a PhD at University College London, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Great Britain, where her research focuses on decision-making by the Philippine government and humanitarian organisations following Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2013. Victoria also writes and lectures on disaster recovery, resilience and participatory approaches to design. 


This event was organised by the Humanitarian Evidence Programme, a partnership between Oxfam and the Feinstein International Center at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, funded by DFID's Humanitarian Innovation and Evidence Programme (HIEP). The Humanitarian Evidence Programme has commissioned eight humanitarian evidence syntheses and focuses on research uptake.

Funded by UK AID this is a partnershiip between Oxfam GB and the Feinstein International Center