Final Report | The Effects of Insecurity on Humanitarian Coverage

Stoddard, A. and Jillani, S.
Publication language
Date published
01 Nov 2016
Research, reports and studies
Conflict, violence & peace, Working in conflict setting, Protection, human rights & security, System-wide performance
Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria
Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI)

In a small number of crisis-affected countries, humanitarian organisations work
amid active conflict and under direct threat of violence. This insecurity, attested to
by rising aid worker casualty rates, significantly constrains humanitarian operations
and hinders the ability of people in emergencies to access vital aid. How and to what
extent this happens is unknown, in part because humanitarian operational presence
itself has never been measured.

To assess concretely the impact of insecurity on humanitarian response, the ‘Secure Access in Volatile Environments’ (SAVE) study conducted field research in four of the world’s most insecure operational settings – Afghanistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria. The objective was to measure humanitarian field presence relative to the level of need in the particular contexts (i.e. humanitarian coverage), and to determine how this coverage was affected by security conditions.

The results of the study show that humanitarian operations are highly determined by security conditions and that coverage of humanitarian needs in war zones is even lower than it might outwardly appear, as aid organisations will typically remain in the country, even after suffering attacks, but will reduce their field presence and adopt new, often suboptimal, operational models to continue programming.