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On the Basis of Need Alone? Data Gathering, Impartiality and the Localisation of Humanitarian Action
The Centre for Humanitarian Action (CHA) and the Excellence Cluster Africa Multiple are delighted to invite you to a virtual roundtable discussion:

Humanitarian reflections – research meets practice. On the Basis of Need Alone? Data Gathering, Impartiality and the Localisation of Humanitarian Action.


Prof. Dr. Joël Glasman, University Bayreuth
Corinna Kreidler, Independent Consultant
Claudia Ah Poe, Head of Needs Assessment and Targeting Unit, World Food Programme Rome, Diego Fernández Otegui, PhD Researcher, University of Delaware.

Facilitation: Sonja Hövelmann, Centre for Humanitarian Action

According to the principle of impartiality, humanitarian organisations should provide humanitarian action “on the basis of need alone”. Thus, need assessment is a prerequisite for action. Quantification and data aggregation provide the foundation for an impartial and unbiased decision-making. Related accountability and efficiency of humanitarian assistance have become key issues in the international debate in times of increasing needs and overstretched aid budgets. Large agencies collect vast sets of data, often analysed by algorithms to determine who is in need.

However, the call for localisation of humanitarian action and for more accountability for affected populations has raised serious concerns on universal standards. The debate on ‘local’ vs. ‘universal’ assessment approaches has underlined the need to better take local cultural and socioeconomic issues into account. Should there be universal standards as established for example by “Sphere”, or do we need a turn to culturally adapted, local standards? Should every person, living in rural or urban settings, in Al-Hol or in Kakuma, be bound to the same basic need standards? How can donors decide where to direct their funding if there is no common denominator to identify the greatest needs?
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