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Ensuring a more effective response

We are working to improve how we operate as well as to influence international policy so that there is a more effective response when faced with large-scale and complex humanitarian crises. 

Research and Learning

Globally, 42 million people (over nine times the population of Ireland) have been displaced as a result of conflict, violence or human rights abuses. We invest in research to better understand the impact of conflict and fragility as well as building evidence on the most effective approaches to support positive change.

Investing in research

By 2015, it is expected that than 1.5 billion people and over 60% of the world’s poor will be living in states affected by conflict and fragility. People living in these states are twice as likely to be undernourished and their children are three times more likely to be out of school.

The consequences of conflict are dire but even in these difficult environments women and men, girls and boys, have much to contribute in changing things for the better.

Irish Aid invests in research to better understand the impact of conflict and fragility as well as building evidence on the most effective approaches to support positive change.   

We invest in research to understand more about how conflict and fragility affect people’s lives, so that development resources can be used most effectively for the benefit of the poor.

Using customary law and community institutions to curb violence

We are supporting research with the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University examining how customary law and community institutions work to curb violence and mend relationships within and between groups in Karamoja, a conflict- affected region in northeast Uganda.

 The research is not yet completed but preliminary findings, for example, that aspects of community authority remain effective in dispute resolution, are already informing donor dialogue and planning in Uganda.

Developing strategies to combat gender-based violence

Violence against women is a pervasive problem throughout the world, a violation of human rights, a threat to women’s physical and emotional health, and a hindrance to women’s participation in their family and community life.

It is exacerbated and intensified in situations of conflict. Research supported by Irish Aid has been instrumental in sharing best practice and informing the strategies of a wide range of Irish development and humanitarian organisations within the Consortium on Gender Based Violence.

Improving livelihoods and services in conflict

We have recently commenced a new partnership with the Overseas Development Institute for a five-year programme of research with the aim of strengthening the evidence base and informing policy and practice around livelihoods and services in conflict (PDF, 314.2kb).

Agreeing Best Practice

Recent humanitarian crises have raised questions about how well the international aid system is responding to emergencies. We have been working with our colleagues in the international community to face up to these challenges, to improve the way we work so that we can respond more effectively when faced with large-scale and complex humanitarian crises.

The challenges we face

Emergencies in recent years, including the Horn of Africa crisis of 2011, the Pakistan floods of 2010 and the Haiti earthquake of 2010, were significant turning points for the humanitarian community. What emerged following these catastrophes was recognition that, as things stood, our ability to meet these large-scale challenges was in some ways limited.  

For example, following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, more than 12,000 NGOs came to work in the country yet failed to prevent more than 2,500 cholera deaths. This highlighted the need for better co-ordination and clear agreement on the standards that should apply.

In response, donors and aid agencies are working together to find quicker and better ways to respond.

Progress to date

  • Best humanitarian practice is evolving and requires persistent reflective engagement by all across the humanitarian community nationally and internationally. However we have made some progress. We have strongly supported The Sphere Project, which sets minimum standards for humanitarian response.
  • We are demanding of ourselves and our partners that decisions are taken based on the best evidence available. To this end, we are encouraging more partnerships for learning and enhanced collaboration between researchers and practitioners.

We have been working to develop our own capacity and understanding of gender based violence in emergencies.