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ALNAP is embarking on a new piece of research in order to better understand monitoring of humanitarian action in policy, in practice, and how these may differ. 

The mapping of monitoring in humanitarian action

ALNAP’s 2003 Annual Review of Humanitarian Action focused on the Monitoring of
Humanitarian Action (MHA), and identified a number of issues with the practice. Most significantly, the review identified a general lack of clarity around the meaning of the term.

Despite the consistent acknowledgement of the need for improvement, few advances have been made. Varied activities still fall under the title of ‘monitoring’ and most operational agencies are still collecting different types of information for different donors, for project management purposes, to support situational assessment, and conceivably for the Clusters.

Furthermore, demands on monitoring have grown as agencies aim to incorporate feedback from affected populations into programming, to measure outcomes as well as outputs, and to remotely monitor work in challenging contexts. Such demands will only increase in coming years due to system-level discussions and commitments following the World Humanitarian Summit and the Grand Bargain. Yet the confusion surrounding the activities, types, levels and purposes of monitoring hinders the discussion and analysis on how to improve the quality and use of this source of evidence.

The research

As an initial step ALNAP is undertaking a two year research project, mapping the current landscape of monitoring in the humanitarian sector.

This exercise aims to plot the perspectives and priorities of different actors (e.g. sources, gatherers, users and influencers), the purposes and uses for this data, as well as the processes, policy, procedures and standards applied to it.

This will serve as a scoping study, helping to identify specific areas of MHA that could benefit from further investigation.


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