Humanitarian evidence systems mapping in East Africa


In November 2014, Development Initiatives was commissioned by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) to conduct a mapping and political economy study on the production and uptake of humanitarian evidence in Kenya, Uganda and relevant East African institutions.

Applying a number of tools – interviews, literature review, and financial analysis – the study aimed to identify the key stakeholders commissioning, conducting and brokering humanitarian research activities and understand how decision-makers interpret and use evidence.

We define evidence to include research and evaluation.

View our presentation below for an overview of the study including key findings.

(Click the play button to begin or use the forward arrow to advance)

Main findings from the study

We find that research and evaluation (R&E) appears to have a limited strategic function and value in the humanitarian landscape in the East Africa region. The R&E system tends to operate independently of host governments and local actors at all levels and is driven by donors.

The use of evidence by decision-makers in the East Africa region is also significantly impeded by:

  • the limited extent to which national and local policy makers and practitioners value and can engage with R&E outputs and are willing and able to act on their findings
  • limited linkages between research and policy and practice communities.

A common and shared research agenda for humanitarian R&E in the region seems to be lacking and there is little shared analysis of data/evidence collected over the long term on cyclical causes and responses to repeated humanitarian crises. This therefore limits the potential for a strategic and future-focused body of R&E work.

To improve this R&E landscape, a locally owned, more strategically coherent research agenda that is broader than the current focus on resilience and which links vulnerability to issues such as energy, water, transport infrastructure, digital communications, climate change adaptation and human security is needed. This will more likely gain the attention of governments and prove useful in the longer-term for tackling humanitarian crises.

Main recommendations from the study

  1. Build host government ownership of R&E through existing co-ordination mechanisms with government.
  2. Put in place systems to improve the quality of research by developing basic, voluntary protocol for the conduct and management of humanitarian R&E drawing on ethical social science research principles.
  3. Incentivise local content in research activities by ensuring local researchers are included in carrying out research especially at the design and analysis phase.
  4. Improve research uptake and strengthen R&E culture through innovative ways of dissemination such as knowledge exchanges, online sessions, social media, radio.
  5. Research projects should also indicate how uptake will be promoted to demonstrate the link between producers and consumers of evidence.

You can download the full report or the executive summary only.