This paper by Paul Fishstein and Andrew Wilder presents findings from research conducted by FIC in five provinces of Afghanistan between July 2008 and January 2010 on the relationship between aid projects and security.

Afghanistan has been a testing ground for a key aspect of counterinsurgency doctrine, namely that humanitarian and development projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments, and by "winning hearts and minds" undermine support for radical, insurgent, or terrorist groups. The assumption that aid projects improve security has lead to a sharp increase in overall development funding, an increased percentage of activities programmed based on strategic security considerations, and a shift of development activities to the military. Given what is at stake, it is essential that policy makers understand whether and how aid projects can actually contribute to security.

The paper highlights the challenges inherent in using aid as an instrument of security policy. The findings have implications for the effectiveness of aid as a stabilization tool, suggesting the need to understand the complex, intertwined, and overlapping drivers of conflict, especially political and governance-related ones; to create incentives that value quality over quantity, and thereby reduce the counterproductive pressure to spend too much money too fast; to reverse current policy and instead focus on areas where investment can yield better results than in insecure ones; to reinforce a culture of evaluation and accountability; and, to value development as a worthwhile end in and of itself.

The Afghanistan study is part of a larger comparative study in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa of the effectiveness of development assistance in promoting stabilization objectives. The research has been generously supported by the Afghanistan Research and Evaluation Unit, and the governments of Australia, Norway and Sweden. Read More...

In May 2011, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) formally launched the global Food Security Cluster (FSC) as the UN’s global mechanism for coordinating food security responses in emergencies. The creation of the global cluster coincides with a period in which the number of food security actors has continued to grow, the operating environment has become more complex, and the range of responses has required greater levels of skill in analysis, planning, implementation and monitoring. All of this underscores the need for greater coordination.

This paper summarizes the mandate of the newly formed global FSC, presents an analysis of the major issues and challenges it faces, and provides recommendations to donors and the global FSC for possible ways to address these issues. Issues addressed include the leadership of clusters and coordination; coordination linkages and challenges at the global level; transitions, exit and the “boundaries” of food security coordination in emergencies; accountability, effectiveness and funding. Addressing many of these issues will require broader coordination among actors and institutions that do not necessarily have similarly-aligned interests and incentives. However, the global FSC itself can do several things. First, given the myriad issues the global FSC faces, the cluster leadership can provide some strategic prioritizing. Second, while clusters exist for humanitarian purposes, it is clear that cluster coordination is more effective when good preparedness plans are in place and where longer-term concerns are taken into consideration in the acute emergency response. Finally, good leadership in the right place at the right time is a key component of an effective response and effective coordination, and ensuring this leadership is one of the challenges facing the global Cluster. Donors can provide support to the global FSC making clear the priorities they see at the global level and engaging at the country level where capacity exists; by supporting the global FSC to function as a main repository of experience and lessons learned; and by ensuring the expertise for innovative approaches is critical for strategic success.

An analysis of case studies for this paper are contained in a separate annex. Read more...

The Feinstein International Center provides advisory support to the Darfur Development and Reconstruction Agency (DRA) – a national NGO in Sudan – to set up and manage a community-based market monitoring network in the Darfur Region. The goal of this market monitoring initiative is to deepen analysis and understanding of the shifting patterns of trade and markets in Darfur on an ongoing basis for key agricultural and livestock commodities; identify how livelihoods and the economy can be supported through trade; and identify peace-building opportunities through trade.

Seven community-based organizations (CBOs) plus DRA are monitoring 15 markets across North Darfur, including three markets in IDP camps, on a weekly basis. A new CBO-based market monitoring network is currently being established in West Darfur and eventually the network will be extended to cover all of the Darfur Region.

The specific objectives of this work are to:

  • Deepen analysis and understanding of how the conflict is impacting on trade and markets in Darfur, and therefore on livelihoods and the wider economy;
  • Provide policy and programming advice to state-level, national and international actors, on how livelihoods can be supported through support to trade and market infrastructure during protracted crisis and in preparation for eventual recovery;
  • Identify where trade provides a bridge between different livelihood and ethnic groups that may otherwise be hostile to one another, to identify opportunities for peace-building through trade. This will help to lay the foundations for the eventual recovery of Darfur’s economy when peace and stability are restored.

There are two components to the trade and markets programme:

  • Setting up a community-based organization (CBO) market monitoring network in North and West Darfur, in partnership with DRA, which will result in market monitoring bulletins which capture outcomes of analysis as well as a secure computer-based database of monitoring data;
  • Carrying out two in-depth studies into the trade in Darfur in cash crops and livestock, respectively, over a three year period.

Quarterly bulletins are currently available for North Darfur. Bulletins on West Darfur are expected from mid-2012. The work is funded by the European Union through SOS Sahel International UK, and by UKAID from the Department of International Development through UNEP, and implemented with technical advisory support from FIC. The bulletins are available for download at our website.

Households in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda have seen a precipitous drop in access to and availability of animal milk in recent years. The declining milk supply affects livelihoods, food security, and markets, but has the greatest impact on the diets and nutrition of young children.

This study, the latest under the collaborative initiative between the Feinstein International Center and Save the Children, examines changes in milk supply and uses by households in pastoral, agro-pastoral and agricultural livelihood zones in Karamoja. Using participatory methods of data collection, the research illustrates both how significant the loss of milk has been to diets and livelihoods and how households have responded to this loss. We find that households prioritize feeding any available milk to children at the expense of milk for all other household members and all other purposes. Nevertheless, the overall reduction of milk in the diets of children continues to have serious nutritional consequences that warrant further attention at the programming, policy and advocacy levels.


Bangladesh has the fourth-highest number of children – around 600,000 at any one time – suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in the world. Currently, ongoing national programs (such as the National Nutrition Program) do not include an effective mechanism of identifying or treating young children who suffer from SAM. This prospective cohort study examined the effectiveness and feasibility of adding the diagnosis and treatment of SAM to the community case management package delivered by community health workers outside health facilities in Barisal, Bangladesh.

Results show that when SAM is diagnosed and treated by community health workers (CHWs) a very high proportion of malnourished children can access care and they are very likely to recover. The main outcome measures including the high recovery rate (92%) and low mortality and default rates (0.1% and 7.5% respectively) are all considerably better than the Sphere international standards for therapeutic feeding programs and compare favorably with other community-based management of acute malnutrition programs across the world, as well as with previous work that has examined the outpatient rehabilitation of children suffering from SAM in Bangladesh.

The level of coverage seen in this program – 89% (CI 78.0%–95.9%) by April 2010 – is one of the highest rates of coverage ever recorded for similar programs. In contrast, monitoring data in a comparison Upazila (an administrative subdivision of a district), where facility-based treatment was the only mechanism for treating SAM, showed that most children referred never made it to the facility or, if they did, they went home before completing treatment.

To our knowledge, the use of CHWs for this type of program has been documented by only one other program in Malawi and has never been documented in Asia. This study has demonstrated that such a model of care in Bangladesh is feasible and could be an effective and cost-effective strategy to ensure timely and high quality treatment for a condition that is typically associated with high levels of mortality.

Read the report...

Assistant Researcher Rebecca Furst-Nichols, co-author of African Migration to Israel: Debt, Employment and Remittances, recently wrote an opinion piece for the English edition of Al-Masry Al-Youm. The article, "Shift in Sinai security strategy must include crackdown on torture camps" is available on the Al-Masry Al-Youm website.

By Dyan Mazurana, Prisca Benelli, Huma Gupta, and Peter Walker

Humanitarian aid is largely guided by anecdotes rather than evidence. Currently, the humanitarian system shows significant weaknesses in data collection, analysis and response in all stages of a crisis or emergency. As a result, the present humanitarian system is much less evidence-driven than it should be and than it would like to be.

To ensure that vulnerabilities, needs and access to life-saving services are best understood and responded to, humanitarian actors must collect information based on sex and age. When this data is lacking, it limits the effectiveness of humanitarian response in all phases of a crisis.

This report shows that proper collection, analysis and use of sex and age disaggregated data, or SADD, allows operational agencies to deliver assistance more effectively and efficiently in a crisis. The net result is more lives saved, more livelihoods preserved, and basic human rights reinforced in situations where rights are often brushed aside.

This report is intended for policy makers and senior operational actors, both within the United Nations and INGOs, and in particular Humanitarian Coordinators, Heads of Offices and Cluster leads. This report is also directed at donors that fund humanitarian response to natural disasters and situations of armed conflict.

Data presented in this report comes from a review of over 300 publications, dozens of interviews with leading humanitarian actors in the field, and 17 case studies from around the world.

The study was funded by OCHA and CARE International.


Lessons Learned From the Integrated Food Security Programme (IFSP), Mulanje, Malawi

Calls have been made recently for new approaches to the design and implementation of interventions aimed at achieving household food security; approaches that address more than just food availability by integrating actions enhancing food access and utilization as well. But what exactly should be ‘integrated’ and how? This report represents a lessons learned assessment of an integrated agriculture, nutrition, and health intervention implemented in Malawi in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The review contributes to the ongoing international search for best practices in programming for food security.

The Integrated Food Security Programme (IFSP) was designed as a self-reinforcing, synergistic program implemented in an area of extreme food insecurity. Nevertheless, the endline evaluation in 2004 reported that the intervention had achieved most of its aims. Child nutrition was improved (reaching the target set of a 10% reduction in the prevalence of stunting), and most sectoral targets in agriculture, income generating, and infrastructure development were also achieved. At roughly US$59 per household per year, the cost of the package of interventions integrated on the ground compares well with a range of other integrated programs in Malawi and elsewhere in the world. Importantly, many of the gains have been sustained.

Questions raised by the review that should frame debate on future integrated programming models include:

  • Could the same outcomes have been achieved for less cost?
  • If so, what is the minimum versus desirable menu of interventions that generate the best possible outcomes for least cost?
  • Would the unit cost of the package introduced increase or fall if taken up at scale across the country?
  • Should packaged interventions seek to promote absolute change or accelerate relative change (to bring “lagging” regions or communities up to par with the rest of their country)?
  • Can integrated programs be designed to buffer future shocks, not just resolve pre-existing vulnerability to food insecurity, and what would that add to the cost of a package of integrated services and inputs?

Read the report >>

What are the links between education and livelihoods in conflict affected areas of the Somali Region of Ethiopia? How can improved education provision contribute to strengthening livelihoods? The BRIDGES project is implemented by Save the Children UK, Mercy Corps and Islamic Relief with funding from DFID, and aims to strengthen the capacity of state and non-state actors in the region to promote peace and stability through the delivery of quality education. BRIDGES is a pilot project and an important aspect of the project is learning lessons to influence future strategies and programming.

This report seeks to understand people's perceptions of the past and future role of education in the livelihoods of people in the Somali Region of Ethiopia, including the livelihoods of pastoralists, of those exiting pastoralism and those seeking to diversify their livelihoods. There is a general perception that education provides a pathway to economic independence and a route out of poverty. Many professionals and students aspire to use their education to contribute to their communities while others with more limited educational and livelihood opportunities see continuing their education as the key to a successful future. However as increasing numbers of Ethiopian Somalis access education, there is an urgent need to create employment opportunities outside the government sector and encourage and expand private sector business and employment opportunities. Barriers to further education and employment such as discrimination, particularly towards pastoralists and women, also need to be tackled. Otherwise, there may be a growing population of unemployed and disenfranchised youth who no longer see education as offering favorable livelihood outcomes. Read the report >>

International leaders in the study and practice of humanitarian aid work are meeting at Tufts University June 2 through June 5 for the Second World Conference on Humanitarian Studies.

Organized by the International Humanitarian Studies Association (IHSA) and hosted by the Feinstein International Center at Tufts, the conference will bring together academics, practitioners and policy makers from leading academic institutions, government agencies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) including the United Nations, U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Oxfam America, Doctors Without Borders and Harvard and Columbia Universities.

“The conference coincides with a coming of age for humanitarianism. As illustrated by Haiti, Pakistan, Libya and the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan, the demand for assistance is unprecedented,” says Peter Walker, PhD, director of the Feinstein International Center and the Irwin H. Rosenberg professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. “With this comes the need to shift from the traditional ad hoc approach to fieldwork to research-supported strategies that will be presented and debated by the attendees.”

More than 80 panels will feature research and case studies on emerging practices and challenges such as:

  • Media and New Technologies

The humanitarian response to the 2010 Haiti earthquake was unlike any other in history. New technologies such as open source mapping, Short Message Service (SMS), and people-finder websites, allowed remote volunteers to mobilize immediately and work in concert with their colleagues in the field. In recognition of their potential, discussion will focus on the viability of these tools for the future. The panel will also address the increasing use of broadcast media as a means of communication for populations affected by crises as well as responders.   

  • Urban Crises

An increasing number of crises are occurring in urban settings, requiring aid workers to be prepared for non-war-related violence and to serve the growing number of refugees and internally displaced who are seeking out new homes in cities rather than traditional camps and settlements. Using examples from field-based research, the panels will explore how humanitarian agencies can better understand and address the complexities of urban displacement. Case studies from areas including Port-au-Prince, Rio de Janeiro, Damascus and Cairo will be presented.

  • Food Aid

Panelists will tackle the challenges of delivering more nutritious foods to areas in crises, particularly to reduce child mortality rates and to speed recovery from nutrition-related disease. A new federal government initiative stressing micronutrient content will be discussed, along with Doctors Without Borders’ call to support a global fund to support the distribution of nutrient-rich food to 26 million children in need.

The conference opens on Thursday, June 2 with a keynote address at 5:45 pm given by Nancy Lindborg, the assistant administrator for the Bureau of Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance of USAID and Michael Barnett, PhD, University Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at The George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs and the author of the recently-released book, Empire of Humanity: A History of Humanitarianism.

For more information please visit or e-mail for general inquiries or (for members of the press).

"African refugees in Israel", a scoping study by FIC researchers Rebecca Furst-Nichols and Karen Jacobsen, was recently published in Forced Migration Review (issue 37). The entire issue, titled "Armed non-state actors and displacement", is available online at

Militia, freedom fighters, rebels, terrorists, paramilitaries, revolutionaries, guerrillas, gangs, quasi-state bodies... and many other labels. In this issue of FMR we look at all of these, at actors defined as being armed and being ‘non-state’ – that is to say, without the full responsibilities and obligations of the state.

Some of these armed non-state actors behave responsibly and humanely, at least some of the time. Others seem to have no regard for the damage, distress or deaths that they cause – and may actually use displacement as a deliberate tactic – in pursuit of their goals of power, resources or justice. This issue of FMR looks at a variety of such actors, at their behaviours and at efforts to bring them into frameworks of responsibility and accountability.

The Future Agricultures Consortium (FAC) and the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University are hosting Future of Pastoralism, an international conference to debate the future of pastoralists in Africa. The conference will take place March 21st – 23rd, 2011, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The future of pastoralism in Africa is uncertain and radical changes are affecting Pastoralist areas in terms of access to resources, options for mobility and opportunities for marketing. These changes bring new possibilities for making pastoralist livelihoods stronger but many questions remain about the sustainability of these changes:

  • Is there opportunity for a productive, vibrant, market-oriented livelihood system or will pastoralist areas remain a backwater of underdevelopment, marginalisation and severe poverty?
  • How can pastoralist ‘drop-outs’ be supported after they leave the livelihood but continue to interact with the livestock sector?

The FAC and the Feinstein Center are hosting this conference to critically reflect on the future of pastoralism in Africa and to share new learning from the dynamics of change and innovation happening in pastoralist areas. The conference objectives will provide evidence for policy by discussing new and emerging scholarly research and sharing practical experience relating to a number of key policy areas on pastoralist production and livelihoods.


This report details the migration experience and livelihood choices of Sudanese and Eritrean asylum seekers and migrants in Tel Aviv. The research is based on a scoping study conducted by a Feinstein Researcher, Rebecca Furst-Nichols, in November-December 2010.

Since 2007, an increasing number of African migrants and asylum seekers have been smuggled across the Egyptian Sinai into Israel. Today, there are nearly 35,000 non-Jewish African migrants living in Israel, the majority Eritrean and Sudanese.

The report provides an overview of Israeli policy toward African migrants and asylum seekers, routes taken to Israel, experience with Bedouin smugglers, employment opportunities, legal status, protection issues, and the role of remittances in repaying smuggling debt to family and friends in the diaspora.


Afghanistan has been a testing ground for a key aspect of counterinsurgency doctrine, namely that humanitarian and development projects can help to bring or maintain security in strategically important environments, and by "winning hearts and minds" undermine support for radical, insurgent, or terrorist groups. The assumption that aid projects improve security has lead to a sharp increase in overall development funding, an increased percentage of activities programmed based on strategic security considerations, and a shift of development activities to the military. Given what is at stake, it is essential that policy makers understand whether and how aid projects can actually contribute to security.

This second provincial case study examines the drivers of insecurity, characteristics of aid projects and aid implementers, and effects of aid projects on the popularity of aid actors and on security in an area of Afghanistan which has been among the most peaceful, but which has significant pockets of insecurity. Faryab differs from the other provinces in that the Norwegian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) does not have a civil-military coordination function and does not directly implement development projects, instead channeling its aid through the central government, multi-lateral institutions, and non-governmental organizations.


Urbanization in Sudan

Sudan's cities have grown at an unprecedented rate in the last three decades. This has been closely related to conflict: millions have been displaced from villages to the cities and some urban economies have been distorted by the large international aid and peace-keeping presence. In a brown bag seminar at the Feinstein International Center, Margie Buchanan-Smith presented the findings of a recent study on urbanization, commissioned by DFID and carried out by ODI, with specific reference to Nyala in South Darfur.

A recording of the talk is available at our website: Urbanization in Sudan