HPCR. 2/2001. Setting Priorities for Preventive Action in Nepal: Final Report of the Web Conference.Abstract

The Conflict Prevention Initiative of the Harvard Program on Humanitarian Policy and Conflict Research convened an online conference on setting the priorities for preventive action in Nepal from 25 January to 1 February 2001. Eighty respected scholars, NGO activists and officials were selected from Nepal and around the world to join this important forum. The participants were carefully chosen to represent a wide variety of different perspectives on the sources of the current insecurity. The objective of the conference was to provide a closed forum for the exchange of information and analysis on the sources of social, political and economic insecurity in Nepal as well as to deliberate on the most effective strategies for conflict prevention in the region. This conference was the first to develop the use of online conferencing to facilitate exchange between scholars and practitioners from around the world on conflict prevention strategies. This provided an opportunity to bring together a diverse group of individuals, many of whom would be unable to meet in a more traditional forum. This report presents a succinct summary of the main issues and findings of the online discussion, including recommended policies for organizations involved in the promotion of human security in Nepal. It summarizes over 140 contributions by over 80 participants, many of them from Nepal. The contributions were not censored and represent a vast array of political opinions regarding the sources of instability in Nepal. The role of the Program was to present the various perspectives and distill innovative recommendations from the discussion, and not to determine the value of these observations or to judge their appropriateness. Consequently, the report reflects the views of the participants and not necessarily those of the Harvard Program. The report is divided into three sections. The first section outlines the historical background of the unrest. The second provides a discussion of the most significant factors contributing to the current instability. An analysis of a wide range of measures that may contribute to increased stability in Nepal forms the final section. 

HPCR. 1/2002. Internal Displacement in Afghanistan: New Challenges.Abstract

The ongoing military action in Afghanistan is deepening what was already a severe humanitarian crisis. Further displacement of civilians will have a profound impact upon the ability of the country and its people to recover. The movement of civilian populations in search of security, as a result of conflict, or food, as a result of drought, has characterized the long conflict in Afghanistan. The continuing flight of civilians from urban areas, in the face of aerial attacks, compounds a humanitarian situation that was already grave, due to a long and devastating drought in many parts of the country. Over the coming winter, more than a million internally displaced persons (IDPs) will require emergency assistance simply to survive. Apart from the immediate impact on the livelihoods of the displaced and their hosts, forced movement affects social relations and traditions within affected communities. It is important to take stock of these changes, and related shifts in community- or tribal-level politics that might occur during displacement, in efforts to support the recovery of vulnerable communities. This policy brief aims to provide a concise point of reference for those planning responses to the complex range of issues resulting from displacement. It includes a number of active links to the most relevant and reliable information sources. It concludes with a range of operational recommendations for international organizations, governments and NGOs working on this issue.

HPCR. 3/2002. Afghanistan: A New Era of Humanitarian Assistance.Abstract


Undoubtedly, Afghanistan represents one of the most complex and difficult environments in which humanitarian agencies could operate. Working amidst ongoing military operations, continuous insecurity, and the massive displacement of populations, humanitarian agencies also have to cope with a rising demand for their services and a radically different political and social environment. Shifting from a policy that effectively isolated the former Taliban regime during the last six years, the international community is now gearing itself to actively support the political rehabilitation and social reconstruction of the country. This support, resulting in a new availability of funding and political backing, represents to many Afghans a much awaited engagement of the international community. Unfortunately, it has also generated a number of new challenges due to the sudden availability of political and economic resources emerging amid an operational infrastructure that cannot absorb, coordinate, and manage them properly.


Ronak B. Patel and Thomas F. Burke. 8/2009. “Urbanization - An Emerging Humanitarian Disaster.” The New England Journal of Medicine, 361, 8, Pp. 741-743.Abstract

This paper describes the current rates of urbanization and the developing health consequences framed as a humanitarian crisis. The authors go on to analyze the current state of knowledge and policy on urban health. They lay out the priorities for future research and work and the role for academics, governments and international agencies to prevent the impending deterioration in global health due to rapid urbanization.

Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, Mychelle Balthazard, Sokhom Hean, and Eric Stover. 1/2009. So We Will Never Forget: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes About Social Reconstruction and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.Abstract

30 years after the end of the Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia, citizens of the country continue to see themselves as victims of the regime and desire some form of reparations. Nonetheless, citizens wish that the country prioritize problems that Cambodians face in their everyday lives rather than concentrate on punishing crimes committed by the Khmer Rouge. This study presents the views and experiences of Cambodians regarding exposure to violence, overall priorities, and the national criminal justice system. Additionally, the study reveals that citizens desire more knowledge of the regime, feel hatred toward the Khmer Rouge, and demand accountability. Furthermore, the study calls for changes in the structure and governance of the Extraordinary Chambers of the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) so that Cambodians’ faith in their criminal justice system may be restored.

Neel Butala, Ronak B. Patel, and Michael VanRooyen. 9/2010. “Improved health outcomes in urban slums through infrastructure upgrading.” Social Science & Medicine, 71, 5, Pp. 935-940. Read PublicationAbstract

This study evaluated the health impact of a public private partnership using microfinance to upgrade slum infrastructure in Ahmedabad, India. The authors show a statistically significant reduction in waterborne illness as a result of the intervention and point to further unmeasured benefits from the upgrade. This is an example of the data driven projects HHI is conducting to lend evidence with operational research on interventions.

Reference: Soc Sci Med. 2010 Sep;71(5):935-40.

Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, Mychelle Balthazard, and Sokhom Hean. 6/2011. After the First Trial: A Population-Based Survey on Knowledge and Perception of Justice and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia.Abstract

On July 26, 2010, Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch, was convicted of crimes against humanity and grave breaches of the 1949 Geneva Conventions for events that took place three decades earlier under the Khmer Rouge regime. Following this important milestone for the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), the present study was implemented to (1) monitor public awareness and knowledge of the ECCC’s work, as well as of outreach and victim participation initiatives organized by the tribunal and local non-governmental organizations, (2) assess attitudes about justice and the desire for reparations for past crimes, and (3) recommend ways in which the ECCC, civil society, and the international community can continue to engage Cambodians in the work of the ECCC.

Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, Mychelle Balthazard, Judith Strasser, and Chariya Om. 11/2011. “Victim Participation and the Trial of Duch at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia .” Journal of Human Rights Practice, 3, 3, Pp. 264–287.Abstract

The trial of Kaing Guek Eav, alias Duch (Case 001), at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) was the first in the history of international criminal justice in which surviving victims of alleged crimes could participate directly in international criminal proceedings as civil parties. In this study, we interviewed all 75 civil parties residing in Cambodia, including those who had ultimately been denied civil party status at the conclusion of the trial in Case 001. The objective was to learn about their experiences in participating in the ECCC proceedings.

Jr. Frederick M. Burkle, P. Gregg Greenough, and Gerald Martone. 1/2014. “The Changing Face of Humanitarian Crises .” Brown Journal of World Affairs, 20, 2, Pp. 19-36.Abstract

The scale and cadence of crises that demand international humanitarian response is increasing. The cumulative frequency and severity of climate change on large populations, rapid and unsustainable urbanization, decreasing biodiversity, and the impending realities of resource scarcities and the armed conflicts they might catalyze are only some of the challenges that loom ahead. It is ironic that while human civilization today possesses the most advanced technologies, global prosperity, and abundance, we face the greatest absolute number of people lacking access to clean water, food, shelter, and basic healthcare.

Tori Stephens. 3/2016. The Typhoon Haiyan Response: Strengthening Coordination among Philippine Government, Civil Society, and International Actors. Read PublicationAbstract

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. 

Vincenzo Bollettino, Tilly Alcayna, Patrick Vinck, and Philip Dy. 1/2016. DisasterNet Philippines: Scoping Study Report.Abstract

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.

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.
Ronak B. Patel, Beth J. Maclin, Nirma D. Bustamante, and Hannah Wild. 12/2017. Investigating Gender Based Insecurity & Mobility: Multi-City Report.Abstract

Rapid urbanization is the most significant demographic shift taking place. By the year 2050, it is predicted that 70% of the world population will be urban. The urban poor live in a state of chronic crisis and reside in extremely dense informal settlements without basic infrastructure or services. High levels of insecurity are of particular concern. Due to their unofficial status, density, high concentrations of poverty and, often, high turnover, urban informal settlements are either extremely difficult to police or effectively remain un-policed and ungoverned. While all residents of urban informal settlements face significant insecurity and susceptibility to violent crimes, women are especially vulnerable. 

This formative research seeks to determine the experiences, sources and effects of GBV and GBI among the urban extreme poor of Dhaka, Bangladesh; Port-au-Prince, Haiti; and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with the goal of informing the development of a pilot survey instrument to measure the prevalence and impact of GBI in selected urban informal settlements of the same three cities. 

Vincenzo Bollettino, Tilly Alcayna, Krish Enriquez, and Patrick Vinck. 6/2018. Perceptions of Disaster Resilience and Preparedness in the Philippines.Abstract

The Philippines is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. Located along the boundary of major tectonic plates and at the center of a typhoon belt, its islands are regularly impacted by floods, typhoons, landslides, earthquakes, volcanoes, and droughts. The Philippines also ranks among the top three countries in the world for population exposure and vulnerability to hazards. The Philippine government has developed strong coping mechanisms over their long history of experience with disasters. Yet, significant gaps remain in disaster management capacities across different regions of the Philippines and surprisingly little data are available referencing local levels of disaster resilience and preparedness.

This research aims to address the gap in knowledge on both local disaster resilience and preparedness by providing a comprehensive overview of household measures of resilience and levels of disaster preparedness. This is the first nationwide household survey on measures of disaster resilience and disaster preparedness carried out in the Philippines. It comes at a time of critical importance as efforts are being made to ensure disaster management is based on evidence, especially at the local level and amid national discussions on centralizing disaster resilience efforts under a single national agency.

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