The nature of crises affecting people is changing whereby, complex and multi-casual crises are becoming common, and thus aid programming has also become increasingly complex. The Research and Knowledge Management Unit focusses on generating information and knowledge which seek to enhance the role of empirical evidence in driving humanitarian programming and how institutions evolve and adapt to promote better accountability and professional competency in the humanitarian field.he Research unit appreciates that it is only through history, knowledge generation and management that we can accumulate foresight to effectively plan and prepare for humanitarian, disaster relief, mitigation and lifting millions out of livelihood vulnerabilities.

The goal is to contribute extensive knowledge that will help alleviate human suffering through building safe, resilient and sustainable communities and development. Emphasis is put on the importance of learning and building evidence on the approaches that are most effective in strengthening the lives, livelihoods and dignity of the people affected by or at risk of humanitarian crises. We seek to continually update knowledge and ensure that decisions, policies and programmes are based on sound evidence of what works and what does not work, as well as emerging issues. Furthermore, we seek to strengthen efforts that improve our understanding of the connection between disaster risks, knowledge and learning.




  • We invest in research that builds evidence of what works most effectively to save lives, alleviate suffering and protect the most vulnerable when crises occur.
  • We support innovative efforts that work towards recognition of and addressing knowledge gaps in the humanitarian system. This will especially focus on how to improve standards, impacts and performance.
  • Through our Policy and Advocacy Unit, we work with humanitarian and development agencies, government institutions and other partners to improve the use of evidence and learning in humanitarian decision making, policy development and practice.
  • We use the knowledge generated from research to ensure that the capacity building offered by the Training and Education Unit responds to emerging capacity needs in humanitarian action.




  • To build evidence and learning, new and existing, to inform policy dialogue and decision making at critical times of the humanitarian work.
  • To address the current knowledge gaps and need for innovation and learning in the humanitarian system to improve practice, standards, impacts and performance.
  • To increase engagements with the policy making community by undertaking research in new areas directly related to current policy issues.




        1. Emergency humanitarian response

Humanitarian actors are well known for their response to emergencies during disasters. However, they face multiple problems and bottlenecks in responding to disasters. Thus efforts should be given to research on key aspects of the response phase including (i) what happens on the ground; (ii) operational objectives; (iii) decision constraints and opportunities. To maximize humanitarian response planning, capability, coordination and efficiency, our research will focus on the real needs facing humanitarian organization. In line with this:


  • We invest in research of on-going and past response in order to provide in-depth knowledge on how to effectively plan, prepare and respond to disaster, thus improving the humanitarian response.
  • We support research that analyzes operational problems at different response phases so as to develop pragmatic solutions.
  • We support effective integration and implementation of research efforts alongside life-saving emergency response activities and platform (e.g. logistics, communications, access, safety).


        2. Resilience livelihoods in Arid and Semi-Arid Lands

The importance of understanding the vulnerability of people’s livelihoods, the risks they face and their adaptive strategies in key since livelihoods are often caught in the dynamics of natural and man-made disasters. Our focus will be on developing further understanding and analysis of livelihood vulnerability and resilience in the context of protracted and repeated crises and disaster reduction. In line with this:

  • We support research to better understand the root causes of vulnerability and transformation challenges in both development and disaster contexts to ensure appropriate range of interventions are considered and applied
  • We invest in research of ongoing and past interventions to better understand what works most effectively to prevent and protect people from further hardship and what is most effective to build their resilience to withstand further setbacks and disasters.
  • We strengthen the evidence base to inform policy, practice and programmes on livelihoods in vulnerable situation


         3.Health in emergencies

Research on the effectiveness of health interventions in humanitarian crises has significantly increased during the last decade. However, considering the diversity of humanitarian crises, contexts and health care needs, the volume of evidence available remains too limited. The need for a stronger empirical evidence base for responses to humanitarian crises has been identified by various humanitarian actors. In line with this:

We support research that will generate more evidence needed to enhance response and improve human health outcome

  • We support research that generate evidence on how to deliver quality healthcare in urban population
  • We support research to understand the effectiveness of interventions (mainly in Gender-Based Violence and mental health and psychosocial support); and also to understand the most effective way of delivering the health interventions (focus on injury and rehabilitation, WASH and NCD).


         4. Urban Risk

Understanding the nature and scale of urban risks especially in low and middle income countries and its implication for humanitarian preparedness, planning and response is very critical considering the changing nature of these crises. It has become clear that both the normative and the operational levels responses are poorly adapted to the interrelated challenges that urbanization pose for humanitarian action. In line with this:

  • We review the challenges of responding to urban disasters, which is becoming an increasing part of the humanitarian ‘caseload”.
  • We build knowledge and evidence to inform more appropriate approaches to humanitarian response in urban settings
  • We support research that will provide in-depth knowledge of the links between cities’ characteristic features, related systems and disaster, since this is indispensable in addressing root causes as well as mainstreaming risk reduction into urban work


         5. Climate Science and climate change and humanitarian action

A changing climate means more work for humanitarian organization, mostly because vulnerable people are likely to experience new patterns of disaster. Science-based information about likely threats can be used to reduce risk and improve resource allocation. In line with this:

  • We strengthen evidence of impacts of climate change on humanitarian work related to disaster management, food security, livelihoods, health, water, sanitation and support in times of social instability.
  • We support research to better understand and support the use of predictions/forecasts at different timescales to anticipate impacts more precisely disaster risk reduction.
  • We build evidence on the importance of climate science to informing timely funding of early action.


         6. Environment and humaniutarian action

Environmental issues are often underlying and contributing factors to humanitarian crises. Furthermore, humanitarian crises can have negative effects on the environment and exacerbate risk and vulnerability if managed inadequately or addressed too late. While the immediate priorities for humanitarian actors include saving lives, reducing human suffering, and jump-starting recovery, there is increasing understanding and awareness amongst the humanitarian community on the need to integrate environment into programmes and operations. In line with this:

  • We support research to understand the operational approach for humanitarian response in order to mainstream environmental concerns.
  • We strengthen the evidence base to inform the manner in which humanitarian action is financed to include multi-annual commitment and support for mitigating activities
  • We strengthen the evidence base to inform decision and policy makers to include environmental considerations in humanitarian response.


        7.  Capacity building in humanitarian action

Disasters are increasing in frequency, severity and complexity hence stretching the response capacities of the global humanitarian systems. Thus there is need to continuous conduct research to identify ways of improving and developing new capacities of humanitarian actors in response to emerging humanitarian needs. In line with this:

  • We support research to better understand the capacity needs of humanitarian actors in response to the changing nature of humanitarian crises
  • We generate knowledge that support the provision of appropriate skills considering the changing nature of emerging crises.
  • We research on trends in humanitarian capacity and skills that are linked to effectiveness in humanitarian response.


        8. Social protection and Essential Services

Access to essential services is a fundamental human right and key to tackling the multiple and reinforcing dimensions of poverty and vulnerability. Here:

  • We support research to better understand how social protection programmes can be strengthened to further reduce vulnerability and build resilience of the poorest and most marginalized.
  • We strengthen research to better understand how the poorest citizens and communities can effectively access and benefit from health, education and social protection services.


         9. Informatioin and Humanitarian Action.

Numerous information on humanitarian action has been generated and disseminated with the aim of reducing impacts of hazards. A good example is the early warning information disseminated by a number of humanitarian actors. Not much has be done to access the impact of the disseminated information. Here:

  • We support research to better understand the impact of information disseminated by various humanitarian actors.
  • We use the knowledge generated from the research to strengthen the generation and dissemination of the information in order to have the desired impact.
  • We research on key principles for meaningful and actionable humanitarian information, to support development of standards.








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The Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (ASALs) of Kenya are vulnerable to frequent drought and climate variability. This coupled with widespread poverty, water shortages, weak agricultural and livestock productivities, a low technological base, underdeveloped human capital and skills, weak institutions and poor governance has exacerbated the potential imp ...

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In 2014, the Kenya Red Cross Society (KRCS) with financial and technical support from the British Red Cross (BRC) begun implementing a large-scale, comprehensive Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) intervention which will run until 2018. This WASH in Kenya project seeks to improve hygiene and sanitation practices and increase access to improved ...

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Non Communicable Diseases (NCD) in Kenya KRCS is supporting the unit of NCD within the Ministry of Health to formulate the Country’s NCD strategy working through the NCD technical working groups. ICHA has been tasked to systematically develop an evidence base on NCDs in order to influence the entire national pipeli ...

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Establishment of a national ambulance service for Sierra Leone   In the aftermath of the Ebola outbreak there has been an increased demand for ambulances to be made available to the wider population of the affected countries. As such, a team from ICHA, was recently invited by the Sierra Leone Red Cross Society (SLRC) with support from the I ...

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On 5th June 2018, KRCS together with the Kenya Meteorological Department (KMD) hosted a consultative workshop on flood risk management in Nairobi County, with reflections on the experienced floods in the county during the March to May 2018 ‘Long Rains’ season. The workshop brought together participants from Nairobi County Government, ...

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The Fire Sensors Project, is a pilot project generally targeting households on the use of emerging technology to reduce fire risks. KRCS is implementing the pilot project whose main objective is to install and test an already existing fire sensor in an informal settlement to improve early detection and early response of fires. Other activities i ...

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Demand-driven research is essential to meet the ever changing and complex humanitarian crises that occur time and again, thus informing programming and policies,” said Dr. Halima Saado, Research and Learning Coordinator, ICHA.

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