Shaping the future: Our strategy for research and innovation in humanitarian response.

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In the past decade, huge progress has been made in the availability of academic research evidence to inform humanitarian policy and practice, including many studies funded by Elrha’s Research for Health in Humanitarian Crises (R2HC) programme.

But despite global commitments, and initiatives to broker and share evidence within and between humanitarian organisations, the uptake and use of research evidence to inform humanitarian action has not kept pace. Improving evidence use pathways would mean that research was used by key humanitarian stakeholders to strengthen humanitarian policy and practice, leading to positive outcomes for people affected by crisis.

Our Learning Paper, ‘From knowing to doing: evidence use in the humanitarian sector’ explores this challenge and potential solutions, based on a literature review and a consultation of key informants from a range of humanitarian organisations. The authors find four key barriers to uptake of research: time pressures, funding constraints, lack of relevance to humanitarian policy and practice, and lack of relevance to humanitarian actors in the Global South. They examine successful approaches which help to overcome these barriers, with case studies provided by humanitarian operational partners.

Barriers to uptake can be difficult for researchers or humanitarian partners to overcome alone, due to the political economies of both the humanitarian and academic sectors. The paper concludes that collective effort – by all stakeholders – is required in six key action areas:

  1. Partnerships
  2. Global South leadership
  3. Evidence brokering
  4. Research translation and application
  5. Humanitarian data
  6. Humanitarian leadership

Coordinated efforts by humanitarian organisations, their donors, and research producers and funders in the six action areas, could create an enabling ecosystem which enhances the use of research evidence to inform humanitarian policy and practice. The COVID-19 pandemic with its renewed focus on quality humanitarian health evidence may provide a catalyst.

We welcome collaboration, response and feedback to this paper: please contact Cordelia Lonsdale, R2HC Research Impact Manager.

View report (Accessible PDF) View Executive summary (Accessible PDF)

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