Risk, Resilience, and Response

Patrick Vinck, Phuong Pham, Suliman Baldo, and Rachel Shigekane. 8/2008. Living With Fear: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes About Peace, Justice, and Social Reconstruction in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.Abstract

After years of armed conflict, instability, and human rights violations, in 2006 the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) held its first elections since independence. Despite this success, eastern DRC grapples with major challenges in achieving security, social reconstruction, and transitional justice. This study presents the needs and priorities of the Congolese population in light of prevailing social and political instability, and recommends that the Congolese government and international community take steps to monitor and implement peace negotiations, security, and good governance as the country moves forward.

Harvard Humanitarian Initiative. 8/2009. Characterizing Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Profiles of Violence, Community Responses, and Implications for the Protection of Women.Abstract

This report uses both quantitative and qualitative methods to explore sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  Results from this report show the sexual violence perpetrated by armed actors in the DRC has features that indicate rape is being used as a weapon of war. The violence in DRC embodies a new kind of war emerging in the 21st century - one that occurs in villages more than battlefields and affects more civilians than armed combatants.

More reciprocal, cohesive local collaborations needed for disaster risk reduction in the Philippines

Massachusetts, USA — For the Philippine disaster risk reduction (DRR) system to further strengthen and be sustainable, local humanitarian actors need to conduct more cohesive and reciprocal collaborations with each other, researchers from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) have recommended based on their recent study.

“Local organizations are best placed to prepare for and respond disasters. Our research suggests that international aid agencies continue to play a large role in the network of Philippines disaster agencies, pointing to the need to build greater ties...

Read more about More reciprocal, cohesive local collaborations needed for disaster risk reduction in the Philippines
Phuong Pham, Patrick Vinck, and Tino Kreutzer. 6/2011. Talking Peace: A Population-Based Survey on Attitudes about Security, Dispute Resolution, and Post-Conflict Reconstruction in Liberia.Abstract

Liberia has made progress in peacebuilding and reconstruction in the aftermath of a 14-year long civil war, but the country continues to face challenges in overcoming the results of a legacy of violence. This study, undertaken in November and December 2010, provides insight into Liberians’ current priorities for peacebuilding, their perceptions of post-conflict security, and existing dispute and dispute resolution mechanisms.  The findings suggest that while Liberians are generally positive about the country’s prospects for peace and security, the fears and inequalities perpetuated by years of civil strife continue to reverberate throughout the country. This study provides recommendations to address the existing problems of gaping socioeconomic disparities, limited access to information, a weakened security sector, and the diminished quality of current dispute resolution systems. It also supports inter-ethnic national dialogue on truth, reconciliation, and the underlying causes of the war.

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.

Jocelyn Kelly. 6/2010. Rape in War: Motives of Militia in DRC.Abstract
"Rape in War: Motives of Militia in the DRC" is a special report commissioned by United States Institute of Peace (USIP) on sexual and gender-based violence, which uniquely examines the experiences of armed combatants in this conflict. The report is a qualitative analysis of interviews conducted with the Mai Mai militia in the DRC and looks at the experiences of armed combatants with the aim of revealing potential avenues for intervention.
Jocelyn Kelly, Beth Maclin, Michael VanRooyen, Justin Kabanga, Katherine Albutt, Sunkyo Im, and Michelle Kissenkoetter. 4/2011. A Patient Heart: Stigma, Acceptance and rejection around Conflict-Related Sexual Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.Abstract

This report identifies factors – societal, financial and health-related – that influence men’s behaviors towards survivors of sexual violence and the barriers towards acceptance and reintegration of survivors into their families and communities after rape. This investigation, through interviews, focus group discussions, and a survey, looked at how to more effectively prevent and address rejection of survivors by their families and communities. This project was based in eastern DRC and funded by the World Bank.

Jocelyn Kelly. 1/2011. “Opinion: Rape Traumatizes All Congolese, Not Just Women ”.Abstract

Many programs exist in eastern DRC today that assist with the medical and psychological needs of survivors – these programs can be live saving and are desperately important. But women here do not live in a void. They deeply affect those around them and are affected by those people in turn. Ignoring the needs of the family and community networks in which these women work and live means that the international community is ignoring the holistic needs of the women they are trying to serve.

Michael VanRooyen, Susan Bartels, Jennifer Leaning, Jocelyn Kelly, and Jennifer Scott. 4/2010. Now, The World Is Without Me: An Investigation of Sexual Violence in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.Abstract
‘Now, The World Is Without Me', is an in-depth report commissioned by Oxfam America and carried out by HHI.  The study analyzes data from female rape survivors who were treated in Panzi Hospital in South Kivu Province over a five-year period.  The analysis revealed an alarming increase in civilian perpetrators of rape.
Jocelyn Kelly, Michael VanRooyen, Beth Maclin, Justin Kabanga, and Colleen Mullen. 4/2011. Hope for the Future Again: Tracing the effects of sexual violence and conflict on families and communities in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo .Abstract

This report outlines how violence in general, and sexual violence in particular, has changed the family foundations, economies and community structures of those touched by it in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Analyzing data from focus group discussions with a range of community members in the area, it suggests recommendations for serving the holistic needs of regions affected by sexual violence.

Ronak B. Patel, Frederick M. Burkle Jr., Laura Janneck, Amit Prasad, Jostacio Lapitan, and Shada A. Rouhani. 12/2011. “A Blueprint for the Development of Prevention and Preparedness Indicators for Urban Humanitarian Crises.” Prehospital and Disaster Medicine. Read PublicationAbstract

As rapid urbanization creates complex environments that concentrate the risks and hazards of man-made and natural disasters, it also presents a vital advantage that must be exploited. Urban humanitarian emergencies by their very nature occur within the geo-political sphere of a governing body, the municipal government, and as such they are the responsibility of that body. It is the duty of the municipal governments to prevent and prepare for and respoond to humanitarian emergencies that may affect their citizens. Preparedness at the city level, therefore, remains a valuable area for development to mitigate the effects of humanitarian crises. Rapid urbanization now allows a greater proportion of the population to fall under a responsible municipal government and an opportunity to promote and advance urban planning around preparedness.

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.

Ronak B. Patel and Frederick M. Burkle Jr. 7/2011. Urban Health: a 21st Century Crisis .Abstract

This brief report reviews the health concerns that arise with rapid urbanization and confront humanitarian organizations during acute emergencies.  The authors argue that one way forward is for humanitarian organizations to learn from existing grass-roots efforts.

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. 

Jocelyn Kelly and Alejandra Azuero Quijano. 4/2012. “A Tale of Two Conflicts: an Unexpected Reading of Sexual Violence in Conflict through the Cases of Colombia and Democratic Republic of the Congo .” In Understanding and Proving International Sex Crimes, Pp. 437-493. Torkel Opsahl Academic EPublisher.Abstract

The Democratic Republic of the Congo (‘DRC’) has been called “the rape capital of the world” while Colombia was known in the late 1990s as “the murder capital of the world”. What do these capitals of crime have in common? Both countries have been plagued by conflict-related violence, including sexual violence. This chapter will serve as a comparative study to explore how such different cases – situated at difference points on the spectrum in terms of prevalence and attention received – are still described using the same narrative language.