Aid recipient survey: State of the Humanitarian System Report

Terms of reference

Deadline: 29 April 2024

  • Applications should be sent by email to [email protected] by midnight UK time on the 29 April. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interview.
  • ALNAP will review submissions and will be in contact with short-listed candidates for interviews to take place in late May. This contract will span between mid-2024 and December 2026.
  • If you have questions about the scope or qualifications for this work, please get in touch with ALNAP SOHS program manager, Daniel Squire; [email protected]

About SOHS 2026

The ALNAP State of the Humanitarian System Report (SOHS) is an independent study that compiles the latest statistics on the size and scope of the humanitarian system and assesses overall performance and progress of global humanitarian response. The report is ALNAP’s flagship publication and is a critical element of ALNAP’s strategic focus on monitoring and reporting on system-wide performance.

A pilot exercise and four subsequent editions (2012, 2015,2018, and 2022) have already provided a baseline and an analysis of performance between 2008 and 2021.  The sixth edition is expected to adopt a similar methodology to the 2018 report focused on key policy questions with longitudinal links to the OEDC DAC criteria and through the production of new research components designed to provide a more in-depth understanding of performance on certain criteria. ALNAP will also be seeking to strengthen its partnership approach to conducting case study research in crisis-affected countries.

The main objective however will remain the same:  to gather and synthesise evidence to form an overall picture of the global humanitarian system and indicate how well it is serving the needs of peoples affected by conflict and crises.   Specifically, the report will provide a description of the shape and composition of the global humanitarian system and an assessment of its progress and performance over time.

Aim and Scope

The aim of this consultancy is to collect perception-based data on the performance of humanitarian action from aid recipients in at least 3 settings using either remote mobile based systems or in-person surveys. The information gathered through these surveys will complement deeper qualitative case study research in select countries. Specific countries will be determined in discussion with in-country component leads.

The aid recipient surveys carried out in the 2012, 2015, 2018, and 2022 editions of the SOHS provided valuable insight into the performance of humanitarian organisations from the perspectives of people in crisis. It sheds light on the effectiveness of the mechanisms that humanitarian actors use to improve the quality, relevance and accountability of their work, and facilitates comparisons of the perspectives of humanitarian professionals and aid recipients on the quality of aid.

The 6th edition of the State of the Humanitarian System Report will be open to either using remote survey instruments (text-based (SMS), interactive voice response (IVR) or live phone interview) as it did in previous editions of the report or in-person survey methods to collect data from aid recipients in selected humanitarian response settings, using the same survey questions from the previous SOHS editions to provide consistent comparisons over time.

Aid recipients will be asked their opinions of the timeliness, quantity, and quality of aid, whether it addressed their priority needs, and how it could be improved. The surveys will still aim to reach at least 3,000 aid recipients in total, though the number of settings and final number of respondents will depend on budget and access considerations, as well as their added value to the analysis.

Activities and deliverables

Methodology set up

The consultants will be expected to provide a full written methodology, including sampling method and justification (including considerations of how target people who have been recipients of humanitarian aid as specific from longer-term development support), confirmation of minimum 3 locations for the surveys, and a review of data collection methods to be used and timeframe.  The methodology will also include the interview protocol, consent form, and plan for disseminating findings back to research participants. In particular, consultants will be expected to engage with the challenge of identifying representative samples of humanitarian aid recipient populations and propose concrete suggestions for addressing this. They will also provide necessary documentation to the ODI Research Ethics Committee for approval with consideration of country-specific rules on data collection.


  • Component Inception Report & Methodology

Data collection

Consultants will carry out an initial pilot of the survey to understand response rates, number of eligible persons or incidence, questionnaire understanding, and natural fallout with regard to location, gender, and age of the applicable sample. Final results for each location will be provided securely as raw data in an excel or .csv file, organised by user ID, along with demographic statistics such as gender, age, and location. Consultants will also provide detailed production statistics that detail the number of attempts at being contacted, opt-in rate, completion rate, and the drop off rate per question.


  • Data sets, organised by location
  • Small number of open answer questions back translated into English

Contribution to research process 

As one of the key component leads, the consultant(s) will take part in a number of methodological discussions and short meetings with ALNAP about SOHS 2026.

Deliverables will include:

  • Approved methodology document
  • Interim progress report and participation in meetings
  • Production of at least 3 datasets of at least 3,000 responses total
  • Regular check-in calls with the ALNAP secretariat throughout the contract period


The expected budget for this component is 45-65,000 GBP.


ALNAP welcomes bids from research consortia or multinational teams. The research team should meet the following qualifications:

  • Experience conducting research in humanitarian contexts
  • Proven track record of conducting either in-person or remote surveys (determined by modality proposed) in humanitarian settings
  • Proven track record of delivering large, complex projects to deadline
  • Proven track record of conducting research collaboratively
  • Established relationships among mobile phone providers or survey firms (as applicable) in those places where research is expected to take place.
  • Clear understanding of the ethical implications of carrying out interviews with vulnerable people
  • Able to write, in English, in a clear and consistent style, adhering to the agreed document length

Application process

To apply, please submit a brief proposal (max 6 pages) which outlines how you would approach the work. This should include:

  • The composition and location of the proposed data collection team, particularly for proposals suggesting in-person surveys instead of remote mobile-based surveys
  • Details of experience running remote phone-based or in-person surveys in low and middle income settings
  • List of countries covered by the team’s services
  • Outline of the team’s standard methodological approach to remote surveys, including how the team would approach sampling
  • Key milestones/deliverables and how the team will undertake these
  • Estimates of days & budget for each activity/deliverable

The proposal should include links to examples of previous related work and CVs of the proposed research team.

The above should be sent by email to [email protected] by midnight UK time on 29 April. Only short-listed candidates will be contacted for interview.