The Use of Data for Cost-effectively Improving Humanitarian Outcomes

31st March 2020
Author: Laura Bolton

This report uses annotated bibliography to examine the evidence that the use of data in humanitarian work is cost-effectively improving humanitarian outcomes across DFID humanitarian policy priorities. This review was not able to find cost-effectiveness analysis of data used for humanitarian outcomes. Searching tended to find examples of where data had been used to improve the cost-effectiveness of an intervention rather than assessing the use of data as the factor that improves that cost-effectiveness. A number of examples in the annotated bibliography described the use of data for humanitarian outcomes as effective without formal analysis. Anecdotal examples are included. The sense is that the use of data is believed to have promising potential but there is not yet evidence on real impact. There is also some caution given over the accuracy of big data initiatives which might limit the effectiveness of interventions. Cost-effectiveness analysis in general in the sector is strongly recommended but thought to be poorly understood and scarcely applied.

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Suggested Citation

Bolton, L. (2020). The use of data for cost-effectively improving humanitarian outcomes. K4D Helpdesk Report 788. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.


31st March 2020


Continent: Global