What methods may be used in impact evaluations of humanitarian assistance?

Jyotsna Puri, Anastasia Aladysheva, Vegard Iversen, Yashodhan Ghorpade, Tilman Brück, International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie) Working Paper 22, December 2014. Available as pdf

“Humanitarian crises are complex situations where the demand for aid has traditionally far exceeded its supply. The humanitarian assistance community has
long asked for better evidence on how each dollar should be effectively spent. Impact evaluations of humanitarian assistance can help answer these questions and
also respond to the increasing call to estimate the impact of humanitarian assistance and supplement the rich tradition for undertaking real-time and process evaluations
in the sector. This working paper gives an overview of the methodological techniques that can be used to address some of the important questions in this area, while
simultaneously considering the special circumstances and constraints associated with humanitarian assistance.”

Executive summary
1. Introduction
2. Defining and categorising humanitarian emergencies and humanitarian action
3. Defining and discussing high-quality, theory-based impact evaluations 
3.1 Various forms of evaluations
3.2 Impact evaluations in non-emergency settings
3.3 Impact evaluations in emergency settings
3.4 Objectives of impact evaluations
3.5 Methods for impact evaluations
4. A conceptual framework for using impact evaluations in humanitarian emergencies.
5. Impact evaluations of humanitarian assistance: a review of the literature .
5.1 Emergency relief
5.2 Recovery and resilience
5.3 General discussion on methods used by studies
6. Using appropriate methods to overcome ethical concerns
7. Case studies
Case study 1: Multiple interventions or a multi-agency intervention
Case study 2: Unanticipated emergencies
Case study 3: A complex emergency involving flooding and conflict
Case study 4: A protracted emergency – internally displaced peoples in DRC
Case study 5: Using impact evaluations to estimate the effect of assistance after typhoons in the Philippines
Case study 6: Using impact evaluations to estimate the effect of assistance in the recovery phase in the absence of ex ante planning
8. Conclusions 
Appendix A : Table on impact evaluations of humanitarian relief


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