Maxwell, D. and Hailey, P. (2020) ‘The Politics of Information and Analysis in Famines and Extreme Emergencies: Synthesis of Findings from Six Case Studies’. Boston, MA: Tufts University/Feinstein International Center.

Maxwell, D. and Hailey, P

This study considers the constraints on data collection and analysis in extreme food security emergencies in countries with a high risk of famine and aims to suggest methods to ensure independent and objective analysis of humanitarian emergencies. This report synthesizes the main findings and recommendations from six country case studies: Somalia, South Sudan, Northeastern Nigeria, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Kenya.

In many contemporary crises, good quality data are not always readily available. Analysis procedures have built-in processes for ensuring the validity and reliability of data. But there is relatively little emphasis on analyzing what data are missing, why, where and when the data are missing, and what can or should be done about missing and poor-quality data. And there is little attempt to analyze the ways in which data collection or analyses processes are undermined or influenced by political factors rather than (or in addition to) being guided by the evidence. These problems are especially pronounced where there is a high risk of famine. More critically, these analytical processes are subject to considerable external influences and pressures that have little to do with the promotion of good analysis and much to do with political considerations. The study observes that the closer to famine an analysis comes, the more difficult the politics become.