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Humanitarian Horizons

Humanitarian Horizons 2018-21

Our flagship research program, Humanitarian Horizons, is a four-year initiative generating evidence-based research and creating conversations for change.

Malaysia, Photography by Ashley Clements

About the 2018-21 program

Humanitarian Horizons is Humanitarian Advisory Group’s strategic research program, supported by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. It aims to contribute evidence and enhance thinking and action towards better humanitarian outcomes for crisis-affected populations in the Indo-Pacific region.

The Humanitarian Horizons 2018-21 program consisted of four research streams: Intention to Impact: Localised Humanitarian Action, Diverse and Inclusive Humanitarian Leadership, Building a Blueprint for Change and Partnerships & Practice. The establishment of these research streams was informed by sector-wide research we conducted to determine key research priorities that would help progress the sector as a whole. This is a process we conducted again, to inform the design of Humanitarian Horizons 2021-24.



Research streams

Intention to impact: localised humanitarian action

The current momentum for supporting localised humanitarian action will increase as we generate more evidence that demonstrates its impact.

Drawing on our diversity: humanitarian leadership

Humanitarian leadership does not currently reflect the diversity of talent existing in organisations and disaster-affected communities.

Building a blueprint for change

Transformative systemic change is complex and challenging, with a need to progress the operationalisation of humanitarianism.

Partnerships and practice

Our research practice papers, guidance notes, Research Advisory Committee, monitoring and evaluation and sector events are included in this stream.

What we accomplished

By the final year, the program produced 31 publications, with 29 partners and national researchers in 10 countries, and co-presented our work at over 60 forums.

We developed long-term research partnerships with key national and regional organisations. We piloted and hypothesised, collaborated and produced evidence to influence policy and practice across the sector. We engaged with Australian, regional and international stakeholders and witnessed the uptake and use of our research in many forums and countries.

Supporting local research

Our research is always conducted in partnership with national partners and consultants who bring rich experience and contextual knowledge.


We always seek to support strong local ownership of design, process and outcomes. We are committed to supporting local and national researchers, and across the course of the program established funded partnerships that also sought to meet our partner’s goals and priorities.



Why do we track the influence of our research?

We believe in the importance of conducting and sharing our research in a way that promotes ownership, uptake and use. However, tracking research influence and impact is notoriously difficult.

Humanitarian Horizons 2018-21: Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

We set ourselves the challenge and designed an M&E Framework that articulated our objectives for the streams and for the overarching program.

Throughout the 2018-21 program, we tested out different ways of exploring the impact of our research. In addition to producing influential publications, the research design and implementing it with our partners promoted change to the way we conduct and think about humanitarian response.

What emerged was a rich snapshot of both incremental and significant influence on humanitarian narratives and conversation, partner visibility, humanitarian practice and other research and policy in our sector. The strong ownership of the research by our national partners had led to exciting and transformative examples of change. With this data, we adapted and strengthened our research, and are keen to share what we learned.

A mid-term review of the program was undertaken by Pacific group COLAB in 2020, which detailed the program’s strengths and successes, and areas that can be strengthened.

Our former brains trust

The program’s Research Advisory Committee, which met biannually, was comprised of regional experts from government, private sector and NGOs.

The role of the Research Advisory Committee was to provide strategic advice for the research program and inform research priorities, processes and findings.