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  • Humanitarian sector criticised for a deficiency in learning and for inappropriately using evaluations
  • Need for improving ability to analyse and distil lessons from evaluative processes and documentation by practitioners

This project will specifically addressing the following challenges:

  • Sheer amount of data – the Humanitarian Genome can contain an unlimited amount of information both formal and informal
  • The difficulties with processing and extracting valid information – built upon rigorously tested methods, the Humanitarian Genome uses both computerised as well as human coding processes as well as its expert users participation to sort its data making it reliable and valid
  • The constant challenge with making relevant info accessible – users may access the Humanitarian Genome at any given moment; retrieve needed and valid information within seconds as well as exchange and share knowledge.


None of the existing tools provides the humanitarian sector quickly with synthesized evaluative information that is tailored to specific search questions and aid contexts. The HG thus goes beyond literal word searches or word counts, complements and combines functions of existing tools, and offers unique capacities for information synthesis and analysis.
The HG solution will dramatically improve cost effectiveness compared to existing practices. ECB representatives estimated that analysing 10 reports for a Meta review takes 30 days of full time work for data collection, selection, judging relevance and final analysis. The HG will facilitate a much wider, reliable and tailor made search producing relevant data within seconds, leaving the user time to concentrate on the final analysis. It is estimated that this reduces time and costs by 60%.

Added Value:
We estimate to minimally reach 15% of total humanitarian staff in 10 years (41,100). The HG aims to reach about 25% of these 41,100 in 3 years and half of this target group in 5 years. We estimate each direct beneficiary to affect minimally 100 aid recipients, amounting to over 4 million indirect beneficiaries.


During development phase:

  • Availability of the prototype of the Humanitarian Genome 1.0, associated expert database, aggregated sector-wide patterns and related search engine to the humanitarian sector to enhance the utilisation of lessons (at the least)
  • Delivery of the contours of an automatic coding device, which would provide insight into future possibilities to automatically upload and code all existing and future evaluative information onto the Genome meaning a first step towards a tremendous efficiency gain for the sector (best-case scenario)
  • Creating opportunities for learning that can facilitate the development of new or related ICT innovations in the humanitarian sector and beyond.

During the diffusion phase:

The HG’s direct impact is in its outputs, in the form of brief extracts, retrieved from the HG data, tailored to the wishes of our direct beneficiaries. The HG thus will lead to enhanced use of data plus better and more options to monitor program performance, impacts and processes in the sector. As such, the HG will contribute to improved evidence-based programming.

Indirectly, the HG’s social impact is to assist in making future humanitarian interventions more efficient, effective and impactful by providing key lessons about successful shelter structures, ways to protect vulnerable populations, livelihood recovery strategies, etc. In this way, the HG can accelerate learning and boost the sector’s accountability and transparency. Finally, the academic, statistical and ICT work behind the HG contributes to innovative advancement.

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Project Resources

Case Study Information Management, Communication & Technology, Innovation Management, More than Just Luck

The Humanitarian Lessons-learned Genome Project 1.0: Facilitating the full use of evaluative processes in the humanitarian sector

Report Information Management, Communication & Technology

Final Report: Humanitarian Genome Project

Evaluation Information Management, Communication & Technology

End of Project Evaluation: Humanitarian Genome Project

Latest Updates

Humanitarian Genome Knowledge Management Tool Available for use!

02 May 2014

A HIF-funded project conducted by the University of Groningen has launched its prototype innovation – the Humanitarian Genome (HG)


The Humanitarian Genome launch in The Humanity House in The Hague

08 Oct 2013

On 27th June 2013 launched the Humanitarian Genome in the Netherlands for an intimate group of participants coming from Dutch NGOs, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dutch universities and consultancy agencies.


From development to diffusion

07 Oct 2013

In May this year we were delighted to hear that the HIF had awarded our project with a small grant to help us make the transition from developing the Humanitarian Genome prototype towards securing its future as a usable platform.


The Humanitarian Genome Test Event

30 Nov 2012

The idea behind the Humanitarian Genome’s name is to create the possibility of a ‘sectorial DNA’. Humanitarian actors would be able to tap into this DNA’s past hereditary information and in a matter of seconds generate sectorial wisdom, which is based upon past documented experiences.


Humanitarian Genome V1.01 in the making!

24 Aug 2012

These are exciting times for the project, since the first version of the Humanitarian Genome (HG) is currently in the making!!!


The ‘stepping strategy’ of the Humanitarian Genome project

19 Dec 2011

“It is better to take many small steps in the right direction than to make a great leap forward only to stumble backward


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