How should we evaluate protection?

People affected by crisis face a wide range of risks. All too often, armed conflict leads to the deliberate targeting of civilians, systematic denial or violation of human rights, threats to life, safety and security, as well as ethnic or other group-based discrimination. Displacement and disasters resulting from natural hazards bring risks including the loss of access to basic services, increased risk of sexual and gender-based violence, or violations of the rights of the child as enshrined in international law.

The international humanitarian system has increasingly recognised the gravity and centrality of these risks, both through an evolving policy framework, and through the engagement of more and more actors in the task of addressing protection risks for crisis-affected persons.

In contrast to the attention paid to the planning, coordination and conduct of protection work, the evaluation of protection activities has received relatively little attention. As previously noted, evaluation guidance focusing on protection in humanitarian action is limited, fragmented and confined to specific programming manuals that often give limited guidance on the overall challenge of looking at protection.

Core questions remain unanswered, such as:

  • How should evaluation commissioners assess evaluability conditions in protection contexts?
  • How should evaluation teams design data collection and management tools that meet the ethical and analytical challenges raised by protection risk reduction?
  • And how should we assess programme performance and results whilst taking account of the complexity of protection settings and the important role of external actors in contributing to protection-conducive environments?

The ALNAP Guide on the Evaluation of Protection in Humanitarian Action addresses these questions. It covers the full evaluation cycle, from planning through data management to analysis and use. It also includes a set of six toolkits for commissioners and evaluators alike, as well as a range of considerations and insights from other evaluations in this area.

This Guide should be seen as a complement to the ALNAP (2016) Evaluation of Humanitarian Action Guide, which provides readers with more in-depth protection-specific considerations than the EHA Guide could allow. As such, we see it as a natural addition to the library of evaluation guidance that ALNAP has produced for evaluation practitioners to use.

We look forward to seeing the Guide put to good use in future evaluations as they seek to tackle the centrality of protection in the humanitarian endeavour. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with any comments, questions or examples of take-up and use of the Guide in your own evaluations.