Helpdesk Reports

These rapid-response reports provide digests of key research findings, lessons and expert thinking on specific questions from development practitioners and policymakers. They usually draw on 4.5 days of desk-based research. If your question is not already covered below, ask us for a report (free for DFID, DFAT and EC staff).

CSOs supporting accountability in cash transfer programmes

Cash transfer programmes, like most social protection programmes, are vulnerable to fraud, errors, corruption and misuse of funds, which undermine their achievements.  Civil society organisations (CSOs) have supported, or provided, accountability mechanisms in countries around the world: working to improve transparency to help citizens hold authorities accountable; checking ...» more

Dominant party systems and development programming

There is a lack of applied thinking or rigorous empirical investigation into how donors and the international community can work with dominant party systems to promote more responsive state-society relations, or other forms of development progress. Frequently cited examples of existing research are not based on recent, systematic comparative research and focus mainly on ...» more

Sustainable livelihoods in Ugandan refugee settings

Uganda has hosted refugees from neighbouring conflict-affect countries for several decades. Some research suggests that self-employed refugees are somewhat more successful than employed refugees, but there is little concrete evidence from Uganda that current refugee livelihood strategies are successfully fostering self-reliance and sustainable solutions. Most of the available ...» more

Effects of respect for international humanitarian law on displacement

Much of the literature agrees that violence against civilians is the primary driver of displacement. However, while a few causalities can be considered established, authors frequently note that findings are either correlations (rather than causalities), or that the causalities need clarification. High-quality literature on population movements has long demonstrated that, even ...» more

Decentralisation and cash transfer programmes

In many countries, national governments have delegated the implementation of public programmes, including cash transfers (CTs), to lower levels of the political administration. This rapid literature review found very little research or empirical evidence on the relationship between federal and provincial government in regard to cash transfer programmes. Much scholarship has ...» more

Drivers of conflict in the Swat Valley, Pakistan

There is a substantial body of literature that explores drivers of conflict in the Swat Valley, but assessments of the impact of interventions are more limited. While the drivers of conflict in the Swat Valley have some unique characteristics, it is difficult to separate these from the genesis of militancy in the wider Afghanistan/Pakistan border region given their shared ...» more

International humanitarian law and peace processes

There is limited research and no empirical evidence exploring links between the degree to which IHL is respected (or ignored) and the success (or failure) of peace processes.  The literature focuses on various related issues, including negotiating with non-state armed groups, the question of why conflict groups may comply with international humanitarian norms, and the need to ...» more

Primary and secondary prevention of child protection violations

While the knowledge base on the prevention of child protection violations in low- or middle-income countries (LMICs) is limited, there are robust, promising findings. The majority of findings suggest that if the core elements of interventions are preserved, the translation of interventions from high-income countries (HICs) to LMICs can be effective. For instance, parenting ...» more

Humanitarian contingency plans for military operations

The majority of the literature seems to focus on humanitarian contingency planning for the invasion of Iraq in 2003, and other older cases such as Kosovo. It is difficult to identify what pre-planning may or may not have been undertaken, as political sensitivities and the tendency for military secrecy around large-scale military operations means that few specific details are ...» more

Methods and approaches for understanding behaviour change

There are many theories about, and approaches to, behavioural change derived from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, communication and political science. These theories focus on a number of different levels: the enabling environment; the community; the interpersonal; or the individual. What matters is not only which behaviour change intervention or policy is ...» more

The impact of protracted crises on attitudes and aspirations

The review draws on both academic and grey literature, which reflects the variety of approaches to understanding attitudes and aspirations and how they are formed. Of particular importance are discussions of social norms, networks and capital and how these shape relations between individuals and groups and thus influence the formation and evolution of attitudes and ...» more

Social assistance and idiosyncratic shocks

While there is a growing literature documenting and analysing how social assistance programmes can help in reducing income poverty and food insecurity, very little systematic empirical research has been done concerning their effectiveness in reducing individual and household vulnerability to idiosyncratic shocks. This rapid review focuses on cash transfers and public works ...» more

Transitional shelter in post-disaster contexts

Literature on approaches to transitional shelter in post-natural disaster contexts reflects the variety of different approaches and definitions, which complicate understandings of transitional shelter and lessons learned. There are three main approaches to transitional shelter, all of which incorporate disaster risk reduction measures to reduce household ...» more

Communicating peace agreements

There is limited research on the process of conducting such referendums and how to communicate the contents of peace agreements and constitutions to the electorate. The 1998 referendum in Northern Ireland has received the greatest attention in the literature. Available research focuses on factors that can influence whether a referendum is likely to be won, including discussion ...» more

Libyan political economy

Much has changed in Libya since April 2014. However, Libya remains highly unstable and divided along multiple fracture lines, with a multitude of armed and non-armed groups. Given the fluidity of relations between these groups, literature on the country situation becomes quickly outdated. Libya has three rival claimants to power: a reconvened General National Congress (GNC) ...» more

Impacts of social protection programmes on children

The impact of social protection on children is under-researched. Key findings and insights from the literature include: Multidimensional social protection systems have had positive impacts on addressing economic and human development, multiple vulnerabilities, and both social and economic inequities. Child-sensitive social protection programmes are more intentionally ...» more

The role of online/social media in countering violent extremism in East Africa

There is growing recognition amongst academics and policy makers that de-radicalisation and countering violent extremism programmes can be a more effective way of tackling extremism than purely militaristic approaches. Online and social media are useful in the dissemination of counter narratives in multiple languages, and to reach a broad, geographically diverse audience.  The ...» more

Addressing case delays caused by multiple adjournments

A number of policy studies recommend measures to tackle case delays in developing countries, but relatively few of these recommendations are supported by rigorous empirical evidence. It also appears that data on court performance in developing countries is scarce. The exception to this is a series of World Bank studies, which measures the effectiveness of its justice reform ...» more

Priority gender issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova, Serbia and Ukraine

Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) Despite some progress being made towards achieving gender equality in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), gender stereotyping and discrimination against women remain widespread. Key findings include: Awareness and implementation of the Law on Gender Equality (LGE) is weak. Gender stereotypes are prevalent in the media. Few women serve as ...» more