Evidence-based decision-making in humanitarian assistance

by David A. BradtJanuary 2010

The paper examines the origin of evidence-based decision-making in medical care, its extension into public health and ultimately its diffusion throughout humanitarian assistance.

The paper highlights key concepts in evidence-based practices, examines recommendations from recent published humanitarian reviews, and presents options to strengthen evidence-based decision-making in the design, implementation and evaluation of humanitarian assistance.

It concludes that, while new evidence can inform humanitarian action and improve humanitarian outcomes, evidence-based decision-making often requires no additional scientific data per se, but rather an understanding of well-established technical best practices in conjunction with financial resources and political will. Humanitarian assistance has many influences – technical, administrative, political and economic. This paper examines technical issues, insofar as the impact of disasters and relief is ultimately measured in the morbidity and mortality of human beings, the health sector is used where possible to illustrate issues of concern.

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