From face-to-face to face-to-screen: remote management, effectiveness and accountability of humanitarian action in insecure environments

This article provides a first attempt at analysing the complex set of issues around remote management practices in insecure environments and their increased use. It looks at definitions and reviews existing published and grey literature on remote management and related practices. It tries to situate remote management in the evolving context of post-Cold War strategies of dealing with conflict and crisis. On the basis of interviews with a cross-section of aid workers, senior headquarters managerial and policy staff, donors, and research institutions, it provides an assessment of current remote management practices, with a particular focus on Afghanistan and Somalia, and their implications for the future of humanitarian action.

keywords: remote management, humanitarian action, Afghanistan, Somalia, effectiveness, accountability, conflict.

About the authors

Antonio Donini
Senior Researcher

Antonio Donini is a Senior Researcher at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, where he works on issues relating to humanitarianism and the future of humanitarian action. In 2004, he co-edited the volume Nation-Building Unraveled? Aid, Peace, and Justice in Afghanistan (Kumarian Press). He has recently published an edited volume on the politicisation and manipulation of humanitarian action: The Golden Fleece: Manipulation and Independence in Humanitarian Action (Kumarian Press, 2012).

Daniel Maxwell

Daniel Maxwell is a Professor and Research Director at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University. Prior to joining the Center, he was the Deputy Regional Director for CARE International in Eastern and Central Africa. His research focuses on food security, famine, protracted crisis and humanitarian response. He is the co-author, with Chris Barrett of Cornell University, of Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role (2005); and, with Peter Walker, of Shaping the Humanitarian World (2009).