Strengthening humanitarian networks: Applying the network functions approach

Ben Ramalingam, Enrique Mendizabal and Ed Schenkenberg van Mierop April 2008

>This note< offers a simple, flexible and powerful methodology — the network functions approach (NFA) — that can be applied to analyse and strengthen humanitarian and development networks. Based on research undertaken at ODI and elsewhere, the NFA suggests there are six overlapping functions that different networks perform in varying combinations. Through reflection on a network’s current activities and how they relate to each of these functions, the NFA helps those facilitating, acting within or supporting networks to work towards an ‘ideal’ functional mix. The aim is for network strategies to be honed, thinking clarified, activities sharpened and ultimately, humanitarian performance improved.

The NFA is now undergoing a process of review. Rick Davies (manager of has provided ODI with a 2 page >comment< on the Background Note on the NFA

One thought on “Strengthening humanitarian networks: Applying the network functions approach”

  1. Here is an update of application of the NFA: Simon Hearn and I developed a presentation describing the factor and questions that should be taken into account when developing a Network (note, though that we are talking about ‘formal’ networks, with a name, although we recognise that these Network need to be based on existing or potential networks, without a name).

    The OMLC ( that Simon manages is a good example of this. This is a Network (OMLC) made up of a network (of users and developers of the Outcome Mapping methodology). When we set it up the real network already existed -the OMLC provided a vessel, a space and a name for the members to come together.



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