The provision of humanitarian aid in complex emergencies: a case study of Somalia

Joanne Rose

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis examines the delivery of humanitarian assistance in Somalia at the turn of the 21st Century. Humanitarian assistance is considered as an ideal and the key question is, can it be effective in a chronic emergency? Humanitarian assistance itself is examined in detail and placed in a broader context of ideas of vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity in response to disasters. The thesis is grounded on evidence based evaluation to generate conclusions for programme and project management. The method taken is one of using conventional social science methods to come to evaluative judgement. The nature of evaluative judgement requires an understanding of the purpose and content of evaluation itself, which is extensively discussed in the methods chapter. The ethics of work in disaster situations is also addressed. The case material comes from two evaluations namely for Action by Churches Together and Norwegian Church Aid conducted in Somalia in 2006-07. The key findings from the case material is that humanitarian projects in chronic emergencies must be delivered within the cultural context i.e. religion supported delivery. The reasons for this are that such delivery pays attention to the critical role of beneficiaries in ensuring effective and sustainable project implementation. This raises key issues about the validity of the top down delivery of humanitarian assistance as well as an understanding of chronic emergency as development rather than disaster projects. The thesis concludes with observations on the limitations of evaluation in the context of humanitarian assistance. It reinforces the central directive of humanitarian delivery as ‘do no harm’ and shows that there are opportunities to ‘do some good’.
Original languageEnglish
  • O'Keefe, Phil, Supervisor
  • O’Brien, Geoff, Supervisor
Publication statusAccepted/In press - May 2013


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