Humanitarian Relief and Development

Global leaders met on 23 – 24 May 2016 for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul. Led by the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon the summit saw 5,000 participants from government, business, aid organizations, civil society and people from affected communities come together to discuss the growing and urgent humanitarian need around the world.

Red cross food aid unloaded from truck

The Summit's three main goals:

  • To re-inspire and reinvigorate a commitment to humanity and to the universality of humanitarian principles.
  • To initiate a set of concrete actions and commitments aimed at enabling countries and communities to better prepare for and respond to crises, and be resilient to shocks.
  • To share best practices which can help save lives around the world, put affected people at the centre of humanitarian action, and alleviate suffering.

After the summit a UN report will be written on the outcomes of the Summit and to agree next steps for the commitments made and outcomes will be closely followed by INGOs, activists and researchers alike, including the Institute of Development Studies.

IDS research on humanitarian issues

We have a history of research and publications on humanitarian issues, including the influential IDS Bulletin Linking Relief and Development in 1994. The IDS Bulletin centred on the mutual benefits of closer links between humanitarian action and development and analysing the barriers preventing the two working closer together. Today, that issue is still relevant as policy makers, practitioners and development academics seek to navigate the balance between the need to react to urgent need with long-term development and the many facets of disaster preparedness, disaster prevention and disaster relief and re-building.

Inclusive humanitarian and development responses

More recent examples of IDS work on this issue include a focus on inclusive humanitarian aid and disaster relief for those with disabilities who are usually amongst the most marginalised and experience multiple discriminations. When people with disabilities are not included in development efforts, they can fall increasingly behind their non-disabled peers and it will be vital to get this right to fulfil the Sustainable Development Goal pledge to leave no-one behind. This is the central theme of a cross-cutting work programme at IDS Inclusive humanitarian and development responses.

Further information on the ongoing Inclusive humanitarian and development responses

HUMPOL Courting Catastrophe?

Courting Catastrophe is looking at how the humanitarian sector needs to change to meet this challenge, with research in countries in Asia and Africa to develop new ways of acting. More details

Position Paper - Social Protection in Fragile and Humanitarian Contexts

This position paper lays out the Food and Agriculture Organization's (FAO) position on social protection and resilience building, with a particular emphasis on protracted crises and fragile and humanitarian contexts. More details

View all Research Theme's publications

Use this search to display this theme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


Wellbeing and Protracted Urban Displacement: Refugees and Hosts in Jordan and Lebanon

The war in Syria, now in its eighth year, has led to the mass exodus of the Syrian people. Lebanon and Jordan have achieved a remarkable feat by hosting millions of refugees, with many having located to urban areas, where the great majority of local populations are already situated. More details


Improving the Wellbeing of Syrian Refugees in Urban Jordan

IDS Policy Briefing 152 (2018)

While 20 per cent of Syrian refugees in Jordan reside in camps, the majority live elsewhere including in urban areas. Syrian refugees are experiencing high levels of insecurity, often due to challenges with legal status documentation. More details


Urban Refugees in Lebanon: Housing, Residency, and Wellbeing

IDS Policy Briefing 151 (2018)

Lebanon hosts over a million Syrian refugees in addition to other displaced groups. These refugees have gravitated to urban centres, putting significant pressure on local infrastructure and services. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Disability Inclusive Humanitarian Response

The World Report on Disability estimates that about 15 per cent of the world’s population have some form of disability, with disability prevalence likely to increase as a result of ageing populations and the global increase in chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer and mental health disorders. More details

Using behavioural insights to address complex development challenges

This rapid review has looked at the literature on applying behavioural insights to interventions in lower income countries. More details

Environmental Impact Assessments in refugee crises

The review highlights a selection of publically accessible examples of the where EIAs (or other environmental assessments) have been carried out in refugee situations. More details


The UN at 70, and the UK. Development Cooperation, Humanitarian Action, and Peace and Security: Lessons from Experience and Policy Recommendations

IDS Evidence Report 205 (2016)

2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the UN, a good moment for reflection about the strengths, weaknesses and priorities for change needed in the world’s most all-embracing international organisation which had already existed for over three times longer than the League of Nations. More details

Frontiers of CLTS - Issue 9

CLTS in Post-Emergency and Fragile States Settings

Frontiers of CLTS: Innovations and Insights 9 (2016)

This issue of Frontiers of CLTS explores the potential, and some of the recorded learning, on how CLTS, as a community-based, collaborative approach to sanitation behavioural change, can be applied successfully in contexts of fragility and displacement, leading to communities more convinced and prepared to maintain and develop safe sanitation practices. More details

This is the cover to IDS Bulletin 46.6, 'Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility'.

Life in a Time of Food Price Volatility

IDS Bulletin 46.6 (2015)

Between 2007 and 2012 global food price volatility affected millions of people on low and precarious incomes. As food has been increasingly commodified and people on low incomes have struggled to pay for life’s necessities, they have responded by changing their ways of making a living, residences, diets, family relationships and ways of caring for one another. More details

Promoting and Protecting Religious Diversity in the Middle East

Including People with Disabilities in Emergency Relief Efforts

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 8 (2014)

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 15 per cent of the world’s population, or one billion people, have some form of disability. More details

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 7 Front Cover

Addressing Sexual Violence in and beyond the 'Warzone'

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 7 (2014)

Conflict-related sexual violence remains pervasive across the globe, and its widespread use has been reported in Rwanda, Liberia, Northern Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Restrictions on Humanitarian Aid to Refugees

This rapid review looks at the available literature examining the impacts of policies that restrict aid to refugees in official camps and the response of the humanitarian community to such policies. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Global Implications of Somalia 2011 for Famine Prevention, Mitigation and Response

Global Food Security Special Issue on the Somalia Famine of 2011-2012 (2012)

The famine in Somalia 2011–2012 is a call for critical reflection and improvement. To summarize the main conclusions, while the emergence of a food security crisis in the Greater Horn of Africa in 2011 was well predicted, inadequate measures were taken to prevent, mitigate and respond to this crisis. More details