Do No Harm: Additional Model of the Framework



The Reflective Case Studies of the Do No Harm Project (DNH), explore how people use the concepts and ideas of Do No Harm. This includes asking people about the DNH Framework, how they use it, which parts they use, what is most useful and what the results of using DNH have been in their setting. It has been discovered that the original DNH framework is not widely used by people to help them look at their context, at their projects and programmes or at the impacts of their work on the conflict.

The old model is useful for describing key concepts and the ways those concepts interact with one another, but it does not accurately reflect the ways that people think about or use DNH. An additional DNH framework has therefore been created based on how people are actually using DNH concepts in order to supplement the gaps in the original framework.

Key Findings:

This Framework is represented as a “loop”, meant to be understood as steps that Do No Harm users go through in order in a continuous cycle.

  • Dividers/Connectors The label “Dividers and Connectors” indicates an analysis, or reanalysis, of the context. Most people start with D/C analysis. Because people have told us of their strong tendency to start the cycle of their thinking with D/Cs, we have placed this analysis at the top of the diagram. They look at the context with D/Cs in mind first. The most effective users also rank the relative importance of the Ds and Cs (though, in general, this is not documented, but relies on a personal understanding of the context).
  • Worse or Better Next, people ask, “Are the D/Cs getting better or worse?” This question introduces a sense of time and of change into the analysis process. People cannot feel confident taking the next step – looking at Options and Opportunities – unless they have a sense of how D/Cs change over time in the context.
  • Options & Opportunities In the third step, people develop new ways of doing their work based on their understanding of the D/Cs and the changes they have observed. People use the word “options” to discuss what they need to develop when they encounter problems (things getting worse). They use the word “opportunities” when they see things getting better and want to promote these trends.
  • Assistance (or Action) In step four, people make actual changes to their assistance programme (the options and opportunities are implemented). Changing the programme tends to be the last point in any given cycle. It is, of course, also the beginning of a new cycle, with impacts from the redesigned assistance programme on the D/Cs showing up as changes in the context. The language of “Action” has been added here because this step is where people change their behaviour.


CDA. (2010). Do No Harm: Additional Model of the Framework. Cambridge, MA: CDA.