HHI's research on Risk, Resilience and Response examines the impact of complex humanitarian emergencies and aims to find ways to improve resilience and response. Explore the individual programs below to learn more about this work.
Objective: Evaluate the change in participant emergency care knowledge and skill confidence after implementation of the WHO-International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Basic Emergency Care (BEC) course.
Participants: Seventy-nine participants engaged in the course, of whom 50 (63.3%) completed all assessment tools. The course was open to healthcare providers of any level who assess and treat emergency conditions as part of their practice. The most common participant profession was resident physician (24%), followed by health educator (18%) and prehospital provider (14%).
Interventions: The 5-day WHO-ICRC BEC course.
Primary and secondary outcome measures: Change in pre-course and post-course knowledge and skill confidence assessments. Open-ended written feedback was collected upon course completion and analysed for common themes.
Results: Participant knowledge assessment scores improved from 19 (IQR 15–20) to 22 (IQR 19–23) on a 25-point scale (p<0.001). Participant skill confidence self-assessment scores improved from 2.5 (IQR 2.1–2.8) to 2.9 (IQR 2.5–3.3) on a 4-point scale (p<0.001). The most common positive feedback themes were high-quality teaching and useful skill sessions. The most common constructive feedback themes were translation challenges and request for additional skill session time.
Conclusions: This first implementation of the WHO-ICRC BEC course for front-line healthcare providers in Ukraine was successful and well received by participants. This is also the first report of a BEC implementation outside of Africa and suggests that the course is also effective in the European context, particularly in humanitarian crisis and conflict settings. Future research should evaluate long-term knowledge retention and the impact on patient outcomes. Further iterations should emphasise local language translation and consider expanding clinical skills sessions.
Continuity of key water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) infrastructure and WASH practices—for example, hand hygiene—are among several critical community preventive and mitigation measures to reduce transmission of infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and other respiratory diseases. WASH guidance for COVID-19 prevention may combine existing WASH standards and new COVID-19 guidance. Many existing WASH tools can also be modified for targeted WASH assessments during the COVID-19 pandemic. We partnered with local organizations to develop and deploy tools to assess WASH conditions and practices and subsequently implement, monitor, and evaluate WASH interventions to mitigate COVID-19 in low- and middle-income countries in Latin America and the Caribbean and Africa, focusing on healthcare, community institution, and household settings and hand hygiene specifically. Employing mixed-methods assessments, we observed gaps in access to hand hygiene materials specifically despite most of those settings having access to improved, often onsite, water supplies. Across countries, adherence to hand hygiene among healthcare providers was about twice as high after patient contact compared to before patient contact. Poor or non-existent management of handwashing stations and alcohol-based hand rub (ABHR) was common, especially in community institutions. Markets and points of entry (internal or external border crossings) represent congregation spaces, critical for COVID-19 mitigation, where globally-recognized WASH standards are needed. Development, evaluation, deployment, and refinement of new and existing standards can help ensure WASH aspects of community mitigation efforts that remain accessible and functional to enable inclusive preventive behaviors.
The Philippines is one of the most disaster-prone countries in the world and frequently ranks among the top three countries most impacted by disasters. Ongoing conflict with non-state armed actors results in scenarios where civilians are impacted by both conflict and natural hazards. The result is a situation where civilian relief agencies operate in proximity to the military. We argue that there is an important need for principled civil-military coordination in these contexts to ensure the integrity of security operations to support peace and stability while preserving the independence of humanitarian actors serving crisis-affected populations.
The research reveals significant challenges in protecting the integrity of independence of both military and humanitarian actors in areas impacted by both conflict and disaster and underscores the need for principled humanitarian civil-military coordination to avert threats to both humanitarian aid workers and disaster affected populations. The findings are particularly relevant to South East Asia where the use of military in disaster response is common. The findings also underscore the need for research on the role of militaries in responding to disasters in light of anticipated impacts of climate change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused the loss of millions of lives, disrupted the global economy, and created secondary impacts on livelihoods, education, and mental health across the globe. No country or economic group has been immune to the direct impacts of the pandemic, but marginalized communities are particularly vulnerable to the secondary impacts including some public health measures like extended lockdowns. Marginalized populations are those excluded from mainstream social, economic, educational, political, and/or cultural life. They can be excluded or discriminated due to multiple factors such as their race, ethnicity, age, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, religion, language, and/or displacement, among others. The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative's (HHI) Resilient Communities Program sought to understand how vulnerable or marginalized communities in the Philippines experienced COVID-19, and how communities coped and adapted in response to direct and indirect effects of COVID-19, including public health measures. To do this, HHI invited Filipino authors exploring this central question to submit papers for consideration to be selected to present and share in a symposium. In addition to its research objectives, the symposium sought to connect researchers and practitioners to create a network of professionals dedicated to serving the needs of marginalized communities in the country.
A new generation of “climate science translators” (CSTs) is currently evolving, both as independent professionals and affiliated with humanitarian agencies. While people in this role represent an opportunity to foster communication and collaboration between climate science, humanitarian decision-support, policy and decision making, there are neither clear job profiles, nor established criteria for success. Based on an analysis of job opportunities published on one of the largest humanitarian and development aid job portals we show that the demand for CSTs has been increasing since 2011. Subsequently, we present a characterization of core skills for the next generation of CSTs aiming to establish a space for not only current CSTs to thrive, but also a path for future translators to follow, with milestones and opportunities for recognition.
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...