How we implement and assess programmes based on the evidence

The demand for evidence in the humanitarian sector is greater than ever: evidence is needed to assess the needs of people affected by armed conflict, to design responses, to monitor and evaluate programmes, and to improve both accountability and learning.

ICRC staff teaching children in field

Delivering programmes based on hard evidence

At the ICRC, we recognize the importance of ensuring that our humanitarian work is designed for maximum positive impact – that is, that our programmes rely on evidence, focus on outcomes and put the people who are affected by armed conflict and other violence at the centre. We develop and implement processes that support this approach throughout our programmes – at the design phase, during implementation and in our final assessment.

As a humanitarian organization, we must demonstrate our impact and our ability to design and adapt programmes through feedback gathered from the people we serve.

The work of our Analysis and Evidence unit

Learning from evidence to adapt and improve our ongoing response is essential. However, the ICRC comprises many departments with different areas of expertise. How and when they gather evidence and use it to design and implement programmes varies. Our challenge is to make use of evidence to deliver a coherent multidisciplinary response while keeping people affected by conflict at the centre of our work. 

To respond to these needs, we have a dedicated Analysis & Evidence (A&E) unit within our Department of Protection and Essential Services. The unit’s expertise lies in strategic planning, results-based management, geospatial analysis, and humanitarian information management and analysis. 

The A&E unit provides critical technical advice through all stages of our programmes, in all areas, drawing on a portfolio of tools, frameworks and methodologies for each stage and thematic area. Its work consists of assessing and analysing needs, formulating and planning programmes, monitoring key success indicators to ensure programmes are on the right track, evaluating programmes and learning from them.

Working closely with other departments, and in coordination with the broader International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and other partners, our A&E unit supports all matters related to situation monitoring and early warning systems, multidisciplinary needs assessments, identifying and managing people affected by armed conflict, managing operational information, carrying out thematic analyses, monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning.

The vision of our Analysis and Evidence unit

The A&E Unit’s vision is to enhance the quality and relevance of the ICRC’s humanitarian response, diplomacy and dialogue through the use of evidence and insights to guide the organization’s strategies, policies and programmes.

The mission of our Analysis and Evidence unit

The mission of the A&E Unit is to promote and enable an evidence-based, outcome-oriented and people-centric programming culture, through the development, planning and implementation of methodologies, processes and frameworks that support that shift throughout the programme cycle. 

Our strategic priorities for evidence-based programming

Strategic Priority 1: Strengthening evidence-based and outcome-oriented decision-making

We follow a meticulous decision-making process, be it when deciding how to allocate resources to different priorities or when determining how best to respond to a sudden emergency. The A&E Unit helps ensure our efforts are focused on achieving the best outcomes for the people affected and are supported by the best available evidence, insights and foresight.

Strategic Priority 2: Enabling multidisciplinary, needs-based and people-centric programmes

To draw up and carry out multidisciplinary, people-centric programmes, we have ways to effectively understand the dynamics between individuals, households and communities, as well as the wider environmental, institutional and infrastructure systems they are in, while at the same time incorporating affected people’s perspectives and feedback throughout the programme cycle.

Strategic Priority 3: Promoting a culture of learning

The practice of identifying and documenting good and bad practices, and learning lessons from them, enables programme staff and management to take informed decisions, adapt programmes and avoid unintended consequences. While painstakingly ensuring that we “do no harm”, we promote a culture of learning to help strengthen accountability and the quality of our programmes.

Strategic Priority 4: Leveraging human and social capital in A&E

Our staff are the driving force behind our value and our successes, delivering solutions to complex issues in challenging and unpredictable environments. We make use of the human and social capital that we have built up over years and continue to strengthen our resource base in order to bring help to the people who need it.