This paper presents an overview of key challenges and dilemmas faced in the protection of humanitarian action and aims to provide an initial overview of the legal, policy, and operational trends and issues identified by ATHA through its ongoing research and discussions with practitioners. On the basis of this analysis, this paper addresses three key areas. The first section highlights knowledge and questions regarding security incidents, trends, and causes of violence, including around causes and motives for attacks, and tensions between individual and collective responses. The next section then explores the role of the humanitarian principles, and the perceptions of humanitarian actors, in affecting their security in the field. Building on this, the final section examines the protection of humanitarian action under international law, and the impunity gap resulting from effective implementation or enforcement of the law. The purpose of this paper is to provide key background information and to serve as a starting point for dialogue and reflection on the protection of humanitarian action from attack. It is based on research and consultations with experts and humanitarian practitioners in the field.
The Philippines is one of the top countries in the world at risk of climate-related disasters. For populations subsisting at the poverty line in particular, but also the nation as a whole, daily lives and wellbeing are routinely challenged. The Philippines government takes disaster risk seriously and has devoted significant resources to build disaster capacity and reduce population exposure and vulnerability, nationally and locally. This paper explores the policy and institutional mechanisms for disaster risk reduction management and research which have been conducted in the Philippines related to disaster preparedness, management and resilience.
Building data responsibility into humanitarian action is the first UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs think brief to explore what constitutes the responsible use of data in humanitarian response. It was co written by the Signal Program, NYU Gov Lab and the Center for Innovation at Leiden University.
This paper identifies the critical issues humanitarians face as they strive to responsibly use data in operations. It also proposes an initial framework for data responsibility.
Typhoon Haiyan devastated the central Philippines in November 2013, claiming more than 6,300 lives, displacing more than 4 million people, and disrupting the economy and livelihoods in some of the country’s poorest regions for years to come.
The Haiyan response has been held up as a largely effective humanitarian operation, and the transition from response to recovery phases was swift. However, evaluations have also found that the international operation failed to adequately join with national systems and overlooked civil society coordination opportunities.
With these coordination gaps and potential opportunities in mind, this discussion paper examines factors that affected the Philippine government’s ability to coordinate the Haiyan response and the international community’s ability to participate.
At present, accepted methodologies for wind disaster damage assessments rely almost exclusively on responders having ground access to the affected area to document damage to housing structures. This approach can prove both time consuming and inefficient, and does not support the use of drones and satellites.
Geospatially-based damage assessments offer potential improvements to this process in terms of providing responding agencies with previously unavailable information about hard to reach, often non-permissive environments, at a scale and speed not possible through ground-based counts of damaged structures.
This guide provides the first standard method for conducting these types of damage assessments through the analysis of drone and satellite imagery. The “BAR Methodology” has been developed by the Signal Program on Human Security and Technology at HHI to address this critical gap in this evolving area humanitarian practice.
This scoping study maps government, community-based organizations, national and international non-governmental organizations, private sector initiatives, and research and academic institutions working on disaster preparedness and response in the Philippines.
The study provides the basis for undertaking a series of research studies to designed to identify the leading contributing factors that determine effective disaster preparedness measures and the antecedents of high measures of community-based disaster resilience.
As cities, especially coastal megacities, continue to grow often through rapid unplanned urbanization, populations are increasingly concentrated in climate change-affected hazard-prone spaces. How these populations interact with their environments will ultimately influence their vulnerability to climate-related disaster. Yet the interdependence between human and environmental systems, especially in the urban slum context, is under-researched and represents an important gap in our understanding. Using a socio-ecological system approach provides a holistic framework to understand vulnerability.
It is with both admiration and humility that we look back upon this year and celebrate the vision, innovation and commitment of our faculty, staff, and collaborators in the pursuit of developing better strategies for assisting communities in crisis. 2014 - 15 signified a year of tremendous challenges in the humanitarian sector and tremendous accomplishments of our team.
2015 is an important milestone for HHI as we celebrate our 10-year anniversary. Building upon a nascent program in humanitarian crisis and human rights developed at Harvard University in 1999, the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative was formally established in 2005 as a university-wide academic and research interfaculty initiative. By 2012, HHI would launch the Humanitarian Academy at Harvard as the first multi-disciplinary humanitarian education program in a major university. Looking back over this past decade and the important work that has laid the foundation for our programs today, HHI researchers continue to engage in the questions of greatest relevance to the sector: How can we better understand the needs of communities affected by war and natural disasters? What lessons have been learned from the past and how can we learn better from each other? What evidence do we have of how well programs have worked and can this information be applied to making crisis planning and management better going forward? What is the role of technology and what is society’s ethical obligation in the application of technology in crisis contexts? How can we, as academics, contribute to developing the next generation of leaders in this field? The programs described in the pages that follow attempt to address these questions and provide a window into the future of humanitarian innovation.