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AHRC/FCDO Collaborative Humanitarian Protection Research Programme

Official Development Assistance (ODA) update

Please refer to ODA review for the latest information on ODA.


In 2019, AHRC and FCDO established a partnership to fund high quality research into humanitarian protection of people affected by conflict. The goal of this research is to better understand the causes of humanitarian protection risks/violations and to gather evidence about which interventions are most effective in improving humanitarian protection outcomes. In 2020, thirteen projects were selected for funding under AHRC-FCDO Collaborative Humanitarian Protection Research Programme – Thematic Research Grants call. These addressed one or more of the following six themes identified under the call:

  1. Impact of violations of international humanitarian law (IHL)
  2. Impact of protection programming
  3. Impact of restraint
  4. Impact of local protection mechanisms
  5. Impact of recognition on protection
  6. Impact of targeting

The programme is complementary to the GCRF Network Plus Programme under the strand: ‘Protection in Contexts of Conflict and Displacement,’ which is funding three networks.

The AHRC-FCDO Collaborative Humanitarian Protection Research Programme (CHiRP) sits as part of a wider FCDO programme: ‘Building an Evidence Base on Humanitarian Protection of People Affected by Conflict’ (BEPAC). The BEPAC programme was designed to improve understanding of the protection risks faced by conflict-affected people and what can be done to reduce/mitigate these risks. Through studying the effectiveness of interventions that seek to improve protection, including our understanding of what factors increase or decrease rights violations, evidence will be generated to inform more effective programming and policy. BEPAC has three main component research projects:

  1. Researching the Impacts of Attacks on Healthcare (RIAH)
  2. Improving Protection Impact Evaluation
  3. CHiRP is component 3: Thematic Protection Research.

View our FCDO BEPAC mapping dashboard on Tableau.

Funded research grants

  1. Understanding and Addressing the Impact of Invisibility on Conflict-Related Male Sex Violence in Syria
    Dr Edel Hughes, National University of Ireland, Galway
    This project seeks to address the gaps in current research on male conflict-related sexual violence (CRSV) survivors, with a focus on the Syrian context. The project draws on the work of Jill Stauffer (2015) and Philipp Schultz (2018) in applying the concept of ‘ethical loneliness’, defined as the ‘’isolation one feels when one, as a violated person or as one member of a persecuted group, has been abandoned by humanity, or by those who have power’’ to male CRSV survivors. The research will provide a comprehensive base for understanding the factors that lead to male CRSV and will examine the impact of the initial violation and its subsequent harms. The research aims to develop strategies to address the drivers of invisibility of male CRSV, and to facilitate access to support and recovery services. The end-users who will benefit from the project include the male survivors of CRSV, their families and communities, service providers, policy makers and donors and the academic community.
  2. Refugee-Host Solidarity & Social Cohesion as Humanitarian Objectives? Critical Studies of Host-Inclusive Refugee Programmes in Kenya and Lebanon
    Dr Cory Rodgers, University of Oxford
    While Europe was the focus of much media attention during the so-called "refugee crisis" in 2015, the vast majority of the world's refugees live in low and middle-income countries of the Global South, where host communities often face economic hardships even before the arrival of displaced populations. This project entails an in-depth ethnographic study of social cohesion programmes and the contexts in which they are implemented, bringing sociological, historical, and anthropological lenses to bear on the recent 'host inclusivity' turn in humanitarian responses to displacement. Comparative research will be undertaken in Kenya and Lebanon, with a multi-disciplinary research team drawing on expertise in the areas of policy and planning studies, urban studies, and peace and security studies. In addition to its academic contributions, this project would inform the strategies that humanitarian organisations adopt to reduce refugee-host tensions, improve the mutual benefits of programmes that engage both groups, and mitigate unintended outcomes.
  3. The effectiveness mechanisms of change and acceptability of Family Focused PsychoSocial Support (FFPSS) for at-risk adolescents in Lebanon
    Dr Tania Bosqui, American University of Beirut
    This mixed-method study aims to develop and evaluate a Family Systemic Intervention Module, named Sawa A2wa (Stronger Together), to use alongside UNICEF Lebanon's focused psychosocial support (FPSS) programme. The study is co-lead by Dr Felicity Brown at War Child Holland, and the module is being implemented through the Danish Refugee Council, Terre des Hommes Italy, and  War Child Holland. The aim is to enhance current humanitarian programming and address a significant weakness of the current evidence base for at-risk adolescents and their families in conflict-affected contexts. Focused psychosocial support aims to promote wellbeing and resilience and to reduce mental ill-health in young people at risk of child protection violations, including gender-based violence, child marriage, and child labour. The immediate impact of the study is the focused support for 351 at-risk adolescents and their caregivers. Other impacts include the integration of the systemic family module into existing FPSS activities across Lebanon, and engagement with the National Mental Health Programme for longer term impact on psychosocial support provision.
  4. Protecting civilians from harm: How humanitarians can encourage armed actors to comply with norms
    Dr Julia Steets, Global Public Policy Institute (GPPI)
    This research project, which focuses on Iraq, considers a particular type of protection intervention, namely efforts to encourage armed actors to comply with norms, referred to as restraint. The research analyses and reconstructs the theories of change on which restraint activities are built. The project compares these theories of change with the perceptions of armed actors on what influences their behaviour towards civilians. It also establishes to what extent armed actors, protection actors, and conflict-affected communities perceive protection interventions as effective. The reconstruction and development of theories of change is expected to make a direct contribution to how humanitarian organisations plan and implement protection interventions. It will also contribute to the knowledge about evaluating impact of protection activities. The project aims to inform the conceptual approach of protection research, moving away from solely focusing on direct deaths and injuries, to also account for indirect mortality and injury caused by attacks on hospitals and other infrastructure.
  5. Palestinian Bedouin at risk of forced displacement: IHL vulnerabilities, ICC possibilities
    Dr Alice Panepinto, Queen’s University of Belfast
    This project seeks to better understand the humanitarian impact of continued forcible transfer of the Bedouin communities living in E1, Jerusalem, and how impunity for violations of international law contributes to the deterioration of humanitarian vulnerabilities. Through qualitative enquiry, combining desk-based research and first-hand semi-structured interviews with key stakeholders, the project will gather a significant body of evidence to highlight the ongoing impact of repeated violations of IHL (and impunity for violations) on those living at the sharp edge of the situation in Israel-Palestine, namely the Bedouin communities of E1. The key beneficiaries of the research include the local Bedouin communities, in country researchers and practitioners, and international community, including the state of Palestine. In the long-term, the research seeks to mitigate the significant and specific humanitarian challenges faced by the Palestinian Bedouin at risk of displacement in E1, with a view to reducing harm through an increased respect for international law.
  6. Challenging neglect from a systemic perspective: child protection in Gaza and Jordan
    Dr Jason Hart, University of Bath
    Globally, humanitarian agencies with a mandate for child protection act to prevent harm to children in settings of armed conflict and displacement. Tragically, despite their best efforts, protection work is often unequal to the threats that children and caregivers face. This project pursues a multidisciplinary inquiry into the functioning of the humanitarian system and its impact on child protection efforts. The research entails three case studies; in Jordan, there will be separate case studies on the situations of Syrians and Iraqis, and Somalis and Sudanese. In Gaza the project will explore the experiences of original inhabitants and those who settled as refugees, attending to differences in the support these two groups receive. The project seeks to benefit humanitarian actors working in Jordan and Gaza, as well as the academic community, but most importantly it seeks to benefit children living in situations of protracted conflict and/or displacement whose safety and wellbeing are at serious risk.
  7. Safety of Strangers: Understanding the Realities of Humanitarian Protection
    Professor Tim Allen, London School of Economics & Political Science
    This research project, led by academics from LSE and the Universities of Gulu (Uganda) and Juba (South Sudan), explores the hidden moral anxieties of humanitarian protection actors as they work in the messy realities of humanitarian crises. It also explores how other actors in these contexts contest or co-opt these humanitarian ideas of protection and provide different forms of safety, as well as the way that these contests are entangled with competitions for authority. The research uses history, anthropology, curation, ethnomusicology and theology to inform the UK government and other policy makers about humanitarian protection, UN Protection of Civilian sites, national NGOs’ role in protection and the ongoing crisis in South Sudan and its borderlands. A significant strategy of the grant is to support Africa-based early career researchers. Academics at the Universities of Gulu, Makerere (Uganda) and LSE have developed and taught a course on humanitarian protection to nearly fifty African-based early career researchers, and the University of Gulu is now overseeing a related mentorship and small-grants schemes.
  8. From Words to Deeds: Providing Tools for an Effective Engagement of Armed Non-State Actors to Improve Humanitarian Protection
    Dr Annyssa Bellal, Geneva Academy
    This project examines the practice and interpretations of armed non-State actors with respect to the law of armed conflict and international human rights law. Through a comparative analysis of selected norms, it aims to generate a better understanding of their perspectives, inform humanitarian protection strategies, and provide practical tools for humanitarian actors to enhance their engagement with armed non-State actors. While field research is conducted in relation to nine specific contexts (Afghanistan, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Mali, Myanmar, the Philippines, Somaliland and Syria), the findings of the project will have broader significance since many conflicts in the world involve armed non-State actors. In addition to academic impact aimed at scholarly audiences, the project aims to benefit the humanitarian sector, as well as armed non-State actors. Communities and individuals affected by armed conflict will be the main beneficiaries of this project in the long-term.
    From Words to Deeds Research Project: Providing Tools for an Effecting Engagement of Armed Non State Actors to Improve Humanitarian Protection
  9. Peacekeepers As Soldiers And Humanitarians: The Impact Of Contradictory Roles And Responsibilities On The Protection Mandate Of Peacekeepers
    Dr Jutta Bakonyi, Durham University
    This project conducts research on two African peace operations: the UN peacekeeping mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) and the AU peacekeeping mission in Somalia (AMISOM). It explores how UN and AU peacekeepers fulfil their protection mandate from the perspective of protection providers and protection recipients: military peacekeepers (provider), civilians (recipients) and humanitarian worker (recipients and ideally partners of peacekeepers). It will provide an in-depth and differentiated account on how military peacekeepers navigate their roles, swapping between combat and pacific responsibilities, and how their protection efforts are experienced at the recipients' end. The findings of the research will feed into a peacekeeping training module, which will be piloted during a workshop with AU and UN trainers. The evaluation of the participants will help to fine-tune the training and to finalize a training handbook that will be made publicly available and shared with peacekeeping training centres and military headquarters of troop contributing countries.
  10. New community-informed approaches to humanitarian protection and restraint
    Dr Jeremy Marc Allouche, Institute of Development Studies
    This project focuses on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where human rights abuses are widespread, including extremely high levels of sexual violence. Whilst the resolution of the conflict on a national and regional level is the long-term solution, in the meantime aid agencies, local religious institutions and civil society groups struggle to protect civilians. This research project aims to provide new and nuanced understandings of protection measures put in place by women in communities and the conditions under which they emerge. By identifying where such local measures have worked, and under what circumstances, the research will provide an evidence base for policy and practice. The research will make an important contribution to the emerging literature on restraint, advancing conceptual thinking on the conditions under which local protection measures can be successful. Understanding how to support local negotiated settlements could provide evidence to underpin aid programmes in this area, and to strengthen networks connecting the supply of evidence to demand.
    New Community-Informed Approaches to Humanitarian Protection and Restraint - Institute of Development Studies (ids.ac.uk)
  11. Tackling VAWG in times of conflict: responding to youth voices from South Sudan
    Professor Tamsin Bradley, University of Portsmouth
    This project aims to deliver evidenced-based programme recommendations to facilitate the achievement of sustainable resilience among displaced young women and girls in South Sudan. It will concentrate specifically on the experiences of violence against young women and girls, and on understanding the intersections between young age and a range of vulnerabilities influencing young women and girls' resilience to violence and general wellbeing. The research will take an innovative mixed-methods approach, combining art heritage techniques with quantitative and qualitative surveys and interview tools. The research will create impact from the start because of the Learning Alliance approach with development partners, who are key players in designing interventions to support displaced young women and girls. The project will also develop an impact network across the contexts in which it will operate. Additionally, it will have impact on the Humanitarian-Development sectors by feeding through our community of practice into pre-existing knowledge sharing mechanisms.
  12. Data and Displacement: Assessing the Practical and Ethical Implications of Targeting Humanitarian Protection
    Professor Vicki Squire, University of Warwick
    This project assesses the data-based humanitarian targeting of assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs), focusing on two contexts that are characterised by conflict and high levels of displacement: northern Nigeria and South Sudan. It examines the production and use of large-scale data in targeting humanitarian protection, focusing on the operational and ethical challenges that arise in the collection and use of such data. The project brings together academic researchers from the UK, Nigeria and South Sudan, along with practitioners from the International Organisation for Migration. It emphasises the importance of involving local stakeholders in the assessment of data-driven processes of targeted assistance, in particular IDPs themselves. In so doing, the project explores issues such as barriers to participation in data collation processes for ‘at-risk’ groups, the implications of data-based targeting on intersecting and spatial inequalities, and the impacts of large-scale data use for humanitarian principles such as ‘do no harm’. Beneficiaries of the research will include policy makers and donor communities, NGOs, researchers and information networks.
    Data and Displacement | Research projects | University of Warwick
  13. Humanitarian Protection in the Liptako-Gourma region
    Dr Virginie Baudais, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)
    This project focuses on the Liptako-Gourma region, which since 2015, has become the epicentre of the Sahel crisis and both state and non-state armed groups have committed serious violations of International Humanitarian Law (IHL). Despite several national and international initiatives, the number of conflict-related victims has increased from 199 in 2012 to 1,464 in 2018. The project will focus on impacts of restraint and of local protection mechanisms, with diversity/gender as a crosscutting theme. It will consider the different threats to protection, the mechanisms used and the social norms on which they are based. It will also consider how humanitarian protection can support local protection mechanisms without having unintended negative consequences. Dedicated publications, regional events and outputs will allow a large dissemination of the findings and maximise the overall impact of the project. To ensure long-term sustainability, the proposal develops a capacity-building component for facilitators and researchers to develop local ownership of the methodology and working relations between partners.

Further information

Network Plus Awards

  1. Maghreb Action on Displacement and Rights (MADAR) Network Plus
    Dr Mariangela Palladino, Keele University
  2. Time for Rights/Rights for Time: Responding to the times of violence, conflict, and displacement
    Dr Heather Flowe, University of Birmingham
  3. Creating Safer Space: Strengthening Civilian Protection Amidst Violent Conflict
    Dr Berit Bliesemann de Guevara, Aberystwyth University