2018 Humanitarian Assistance, Migration Review

Building Bridges Between International Humanitarian and Development Responses to Forced Migration

Alexander Kocks, Ruben Wedel, Hanne Roggemann, Helge Roxin

How to improve the linkages between emergency assistance and more long-term aid is a recurring question for actors operating in crisis situations around the world. In this EBA study researchers from the German Institute for Development Evaluation (DEval) develop a framework illustrating the challenges associated with linking humanitarian and development assistance.

The study is presented in the form of a literature reviw and the researchers apply the framework to aid targeting those forced to flee the conflict in Syria.

The report was presented during the seminar MIND THE GAP! How can humanitarian and development aid work together? The case of Syria


  • The framework highlights how differing guiding principles and operational structures create a gap between humanitarian assistance and long-term development cooperation.
  • Although there are examples of relatively good institutional link-ages on strategy and planning, the two types of actors still struggle to work together due to differing working cultures and mistrust.
  • The donor community has been relatively good at finding local partners, but that insufficient account is taken of their wishes and needs.
  • There is a major problem with a lack of organisational cohesion, with projects divided up and spread out geographically.

To improve overall linkages between humanitarian assistance and development cooperation, the researcher recommend:

  1. Developing a theory of change for linkages. This should also take systematic account of empirical findings.
  2. Producing case studies for more countries, so as to develop more general findings on the humanitarian-development linkage.
  3. Complementing this report with evaluations that clearly focus on the outcomes of different forms of linkage. This requires empirical, outcome-focused studies.

Alexander Kocks, Evaluator, DEval
Helge Roxin, Senior Evaluator and Team Leader, DEval
Hanne Roggemann, Evaluator, DEval
Ruben Wedel, Evaluator, DEval