Regions of Focus: Central African Republic, Lebanon and other Middle East locations, Ukraine, Mali and the Sahel.
Research Theme: Humanitarian Strategies
Advanced Training Program on Humanitarian Action (ATHA)
From 2005 - 2020, the ATHA Program at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative led research on the critical challenges facing the humanitarian system and provided professional development tools for practitioners to navigate these challenges. With the overall goal of strengthening local engagement in the humanitarian sector, the ATHA program published independent, critical, and locally-responsive research, and accessible, policy-oriented content including policy briefs and professional development materials (e.g. case studies or simulations). We provided a platform for local researchers to collaborate and undertake studies on humanitarian and development assistance, and contribute to professional development throughout the humanitarian sector. The theory of change underlying this work is that locally-driven research and critical analysis, if made available to the right people in the right ways, supports decision-making that is more responsive to the unique contexts in which humanitarian assistance is delivered.
To this end, ATHA’s three primary strategic objectives were to:
- Conduct independent, rigorous research, and critical analysis of policy issues that shape frontline humanitarian action;
- Promote locally-driven approaches to decision-making on humanitarian assistance, protection, and development; and
- To reinforce skills, knowledge, and confidence among researchers and practitioners, both local and international, on the challenges of humanitarian action and research among populations in conflict.
The Humanitarian Negotiation Strategies Program engages with researchers, practitioners, and decision-makers at several levels of the humanitarian sector. First, we provide a platform to local researchers by implementing studies jointly with researchers native to and based in the countries where we work. We use an equal partnership model, working with local collaborators at all phases of the research: design, implementation, data analysis, and authorship of publications. Second, we target both international and local humanitarian practitioners by publishing independent, critical analyses, that are informed by the input of our local research collaborators. We make this research available to actors at all levels of the humanitarian and development sectors in each country. Third, we engage with donor representatives and policy actors both internationally and in conflict contexts, through dissemination of publications and events to promote dialogue and ensure the research findings reach a policy audience.
Our methodology is inter-disciplinary, with team members coming from backgrounds in political science, sociology, economics, and law, and many combined years of experience as practitioners in the humanitarian and human rights fields. Our field assessments use primarily qualitative methodologies, with some studies also gathering and analyzing quantitative data.