Publications

    Tilly Alcayna, Vincenzo Bollettino, Lea Manzanero, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2019. Perceptions of Vulnerability, Preparedness, Assistance, and Barriers: Regional Infographics, the Philippines.Abstract

    This report provides a regional breakdown of household perceptions and self-reported activities on several key questions related to disaster preparedness and recovery in the Philippines. These are: who and what is vulnerable? What preparedness activities have households undertaken? What assistance have households received and what helped them recover the most? What are the barriers?

    The report is intended to be used in conjunction with the full report “Perceptions of Disaster Resilience and Preparedness in the Philippines” (2018), which explores perceptions on a wider variety of disaster related issues in greater detail. Data for both reports were derived from a nationwide, household-level survey of randomly selected adults aged 18 years old and above, representing all of Philippines economic strata, conducted in 2017.

    Ronak B. Patel and Jay Chadhuri. 3/2019. “Revisiting the Sphere standards: comparing the revised Sphere standards to living standards in three urban informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya.” Journal of International Humanitarian Action, 4, 6. Read PublicationAbstract
    Humanitarian actors have long used the Sphere Handbook and its minimum standards to guide operational practice. The new revision attempts to update these standards partly to address urban crises that have challenged the humanitarian system. Yet, these indicators have never been based on a substantial body of evidence or data from the varied living standards found in cities or specifically informal settlements. This study aims to contextualize the Sphere standards for urban populations by comparing a sample of the revised key indicators to living standards in three urban informal settlements of Nairobi, Kenya, during a non-crisis period to examine their relevance and applicability, and discuss the implications.
    Program Resilient on Communities. 9/2018. Cordillera Administrative Region: Household Preparedness.Abstract
    Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) has had a major impact on the north of the Philippines displacing more than 50,000 people in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) and resulting in over PhP 14 billion in agriculatural damages (equivalent to approx. USD 270 million). The Philippines government and many national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be involved in the response. To help tailor the response it is useful to know what the level of preparedness for disaster was in Cordillera Administrative Region before the storm hit. The following statistics, compiled by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, were gathered between March and April of 2017.
    Program Resilient on Communities. 9/2018. Cagayan Valley Region: Household Preparedness.Abstract
    Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) has had a major impact on the north of the Philippines damaging in excess of 76,000 homes in Cagayan Province (Region II Cagayan Valley) and completing destroying more than 10,000 homes there. The Philippines government and many national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will be involved in the response. To help tailor the response it is useful to know what the level of preparedness for disaster was in Cagayan Valley Province before the storm hit.
    The following statistics, compiled by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, were gathered between March and April of 2017.
    Brittany Card, Ziad Al Achkar, Isaac L. Baker, and Nathaniel A. Raymond. 9/2015. Satellite Imagery Interpretation Guide: Intentional Burning of Tukuls.Abstract

    During armed conflict in East and Central Africa civilian dwellings are intentionally targeted and razed. These traditional civilian dwellings are known as tukuls which are primarily mud and thatch huts.

    The intentional destruction of these dwellings, given their prevalence in these regions, is often one of the only available indicators of the intentional targeting of civilians observable in satellite imagery.

    This field has lacked accepted methodologies for performing this type of analysis. This guide is the first to focus on tukuls because they are a uniquely valuable metric for both documenting attacks on civilians during armed conflicts and assessing potential mass displacement that can result from these incidents.  

    This guide is the second in a series of Satellite Imagery Interpretation Guides. Future satellite imagery interpretation guides from the Signal Program may focus on other, related phenomena and structures present in similar operational contexts.

    Program Humanitarian Policy Conflict on and Research. 1/2014. Harvard Field Study Non-Paper on Syrian Refugees .Abstract

    The Syrian refugee crisis represents one of the greatest humanitarian challenges the international community has faced over the recent years, prompting record-high levels of international aid. In view of the complexity of the political and social environment in which these challenges arise and the historical scale of the population affected, innovative and creative programmatic responses are essential to address the short and middle-term needs of refugees and reducing instability in the Middle East region.

    Brittany Card, Samuel Plasmati, Ziad Al Achkar, Joan P. Heck, Benjamin I. Davies, Isaac L. Baker, and Nathaniel A. Raymond. 6/2013. Sudan: Anatomy of a Conflict .Abstract
    The Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative has released its first study, Sudan: Anatomy of a Conflict. 
    This study is the first geospatial-based history of a conflict created primarily through a fusion of remote sensing and previously public event data.  The researchers of the Signal Program spent many months cross-referencing and analyzing over 40,000 square kilometers of archival satellite imagery of Sudan with more than 2,000 published reports of incidents occurring between January 2011 and mid-2012.
    Key findings of the study include evidence of the apparent intentional destruction of more than 2,000 civilian dwellings and other structures; the intentional targeting and destruction of four humanitarian facilities; identification of specific armed actors, units, and chains-of-command allegedly involved in specific attacks in Sudan; and evidence of the mass displacement of civilian populations.
    Ronak B. Patel, David Alejandro Schoeller-Diaz, Victoria-Alicia Lopez, and John Joseph “Ian” Kelly IV. 6/2012. Hope in the Face of Displacement and Rapid Urbanization.Abstract
    This study seeks to offer a practical examination of resilience in complex urban landscapes for the academic community and humanitarian actors at the local and international levels. Distrito de Aguablanca (Cali, Colombia), a complex settlement area with some 600,000 residents, functions as a case study in human security and resilience that can inform public policy and community level decision making in especially difficult humanitarian environments, with sociopolitical volatility, large populations of internally displaced persons, and high crime and violence rates.
    Laura M. Janneck, Ronak B. Patel, Shada A. Rouhani, and Frederick M. Burkle Jr. 3/2012. “Toward Guidelines for Humanitarian Standards and Operations in Urban Settings .” Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. Read PublicationAbstract

    Rapid urbanization represents the most significant demographic change of the twenty-first century. 2008 marked the first time in human history that over half of the world population lived in urban settings. The process of urbanization, fueled by economic and social foreces, has particularly accelerated in countries in the Global South. By the year 2050, it is predicted that 70% of the world's population will live in urban settings. 

    Not On Our Watch, The Enough Project, Google, DigitalGlobe, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and LLC Trellon. 12/2011. Blue Nile Burning: Evidence of the Destruction of 'Amara Village.Abstract

    The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP), through the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery, has identified evidence of the intentional destruction of at least thirty-three structures largely consistent with civilian dwellings in the vicinity of `Amara, Blue Nile, Sudan. SSP’s analysis of imagery captured on 27 November 2011 indicates a firefight apparently involving heavy armor or other tracked vehicles against dug-in fighting positions occurred sometime between 11 and 27 November.

    Not On Our Watch, The Enough Project, Google, DigitalGlobe, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and LLC Trellon. 11/2011. Launch Point: Corroboration of Reported SAF Air Attacks in South Sudan.Abstract

    The Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has identified through Harvard Humanitarian Initiative's analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery the presence of Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) aircraft at El Obeid airbase, North Kordofan, including two Antonov AN-26 transport planes. These planes are consistent with aircraft which allegedly bombed two refugee camps on 8 and 10 November 2011 in South Sudan, according to eyewitnesses. The other aircraft present at the base as of 14 November 2011 are consistent with the following: Four Mi-24 Hinds, one Mi-17 Hip, one Yak-40, two MiG-29s and one Sukhoi Su-25.

    Not On Our Watch, The Enough Project, Google, DigitalGlobe, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and LLC Trellon. 6/2011. On the Move: Evidence of Civilian Displacement and SAF Control of Kadugli.Abstract

    Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery collected 17 June 2011 confirms reports that the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) control Kadugli and that civilians have been displaced to a location north of the town. More than 300 structures consistent with temporary shelters for IDPs (Internally Displaced Persons) are visible close to the wall of the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) compound. However, it is likely many more IDP structures are obscured by the heavy cloud cover visible in the imagery.

    Not On Our Watch, The Enough Project, Google, DigitalGlobe, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and LLC Trellon. 5/2011. Burned to the Ground: Evidence of Potential War Crimes and the Intentional Destruction of Abyei Town by the Government of Sudan.Abstract

    Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has confirmed through the analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery collected on 27 May the intentional destruction of approximately one-third of all civilian structures in Abyei town by the Government of Sudan and northern-aligned militia forces. SSP has documented multiple violations of international humanitarian law in Abyei town. These abuses can constitute war crimes, including violations of the Geneva Conventions, and in some cases they may represent crimes against humanity.

    Harvard Humanitarian Initiative’s Human Rights Documentation Team, Carr Center Human Rights for Policy, DigitalGlobe, Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and UNITAR/UNOSAT. 3/2011. Flashpoint: Abyei.Abstract

    The human security situation in the Abyei region of Sudan has rapidly deteriorated in the past week due to renewed violence. Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) has confirmed through the analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery that buildings consistent with civilian infrastructure appear to have been intentionally burned Maker Abior and Todach villages. Some 100 people in the Abyei region have reportedly died in the clashes to date. According to the humanitarian organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), tens of thousands of civilians have either been displaced by fighting or fled due to fear of further attacks.

    UNITAR/UNOSAT and Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. 3/2011. Apparent Intentional Destruction of Tajalei Village.Abstract

    At least 300 buildings at Tajalei village, Abyei Region, Sudan were burned sometime between March 4 and March 6, 2011, according to Satellite Sentinel Project (SSP) analysis of DigitalGlobe satellite imagery. Approximately two-thirds of those structures appear to be consistent with civilian residential structures, known as tukuls. The pattern in which these buildings were apparently burned is consistent with the intentional targeting of civilian infrastructure. SSP has confirmed that three villages in the Abyei region have been intentionally destroyed between Wednesday, March 2 and Sunday, March 6 2011.

    Phuong Pham and Patrick Vinck. 12/2010. Transitioning to Peace: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes About Social Reconstruction and Justice in Northern Uganda .Abstract

    Since the withdrawal of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRC) from Northern Uganda in 2005, the region has been on the slow path to recovery after a long period of danger and destruction. This study presents Ugandans’ views of peace, justice, and post-conflict reconstruction after twenty years of conflicts that ravaged the country. Based on its findings of violence, access to information consumption, and perception of ex-combatants, this study makes the following recommendations to the Ugandan government and the international community: (1) continue to promote reconstruction and development, (2) develop a relevant and realistic reparations program, (3) support national dialogue on the causes and consequences of the conflict, (4) strengthen regional security, (5) build local leadership capacity, (6) develop a responsive criminal justice and police system, (7) reevaluate the International Criminal Court (ICC)’s outreach strategy, and (8) ensure free and fair presidential elections.

    Laurel E. Fletcher, Phuong Pham, Eric Stover, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2006. Rebuilding After Katrina: A Population-Based Study of Labor and Human Rights in New Orleans.Abstract

    In August 2005, Hurricane Katrina swept through New Orleans and the surrounding communities, inflicting massive destruction and displacing hundreds of thousands. In the wake of the disaster, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security lifted minimum wage restrictions, thus creating an environment ripe for exploitation of both documented and undocumented workers by their employers. This study presents the experiences of laborers in the construction industry following Hurricane Katrina, and makes recommendations for how federal, state, and local authorities may protect Gulf Coast laborers against exploitation and unfair treatment.

    HPCR. 5/2004. The Legality of House Demolitions Under IHL. Read PublicationAbstract

     

    This note examines the legal aspects, under international humanitarian law (IHL), of Israel's practice of demolitions of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT). It outlines the basis, history, and practice of house demolitions, sets forth the relevant IHL provisions that impact house demolitions, and reviews the positions of the different parties involved on this issue.