Contested Evidence: The challenges and limits of evidence-based approaches to humanitarian action

Humanitarian action is fraught with challenges, and frequently has no choice but to act in the face of considerable uncertainties. The use of evidence and evidence-based approaches – knowing what does and does not work in responding to conflict, disasters and other emergencies – is crucial to improving the effectiveness and efficiency of humanitarian interventions. With access to information and evidence greater than ever, promoting evidence-based approaches to humanitarian action has been given much attention in the past years.

What does the greater focus on evidence mean in practice for humanitarian work? Do institutional and political agendas promote the selective design or application of evidence-based approaches? Are there situations where focusing on evidence conflicts with other priorities? And how do evidence-based approaches relate to accountability? In other words, what are the limits to an evidence-based approach to humanitarian action?

As part of Humanitarian Evidence Week, on 7 November, PHAP hosted an online discussion, looking critically at the concept of evidence-based approaches to humanitarian action.

The event featured an overview of the concept of evidence and how it has been used in the humanitarian sector. The presentation was followed by a moderated discussion on the dilemmas of evidence among a panel of experts. The event also provided the opportunity for participants to share their perspectives on the topic discussed, through the live chat and the possibility to pose questions to the panelists.

Read the written responses to the follow-up questions by the guest experts

Read the article by Marc DuBois on the main concerns regarding evidence in the aid sector

How to register:

Recordings and podcast of the session available at: https://phap.org/PHAP/Events/OEV2017/OEV171107.aspx?EventKey=OEV171107