Humanitarian aid and natural disasters: An impact evaluation in Pakistan

Publication Details

Markus Frolich, Alexandra Avdeenko, Juanita Vasquez-Escallon
South Asia
Health Nutrition and Population, Water and Sanitation
Rural Livelihoods, Disaster Relief, Nutrition
Gender analysis
Equity Focus
None specified
Evaluation design
Randomised Control Trials (RCT), Mixed Methods
Ongoing 3ie Funded Studies
3ie Funding Window
Humanitarian Assistance Thematic Window


Pakistan faces a variety of natural hazards, which have led to recurrent disasters in past years, leaving behind critical gaps and heightened vulnerabilities within affected communities. These natural disasters coupled up with chronic malnutrition in Pakistan, as according to DHS data in 2013, 45 per cent of children under the age of 5 were stunted, 11 per cent were wasted and 30 per cent were underweight. These figures are even higher for rural areas. In this setting, interventions that target areas that are constantly under pressure from natural disasters are key to prevent degradation of their already fragile situation.

The interventions studied here aim to deliver integrated, multisectoral and residual recovery that builds local capacities, meets life-saving needs and supports community-level recovery in a way that enhances resilience for the future. Treatment is thought out as a holistic approach that tackles underlying causes of malnutrition, namely inadequate access to food and an unhealthy environment, with distributions that comprise food security and livelihoods, water, sanitation and hygiene, and shelter and non-food items. The evaluation fits in a key moment of the project, which runs for four years between 2015 and 2019 in four one-year cycles. This long-term approach via one-year planning enables timely response and adaptation to different scenarios. The impact evaluation will take place in the first year, making its results readily available for making decisions on the project itself in the later years.

Research questions

  • Do residual recovery activities decrease vulnerability and increase resilience to future disasters? Do they prevent the household's nutrition situation from deteriorating?
  • Do residual recovery activities reduce the need to carry out costly treatment and/or relief activities in coming disasters?
  • Are relief activities more efficient when combined with recovery efforts?
  • For which settings (community, host community or camp) does the residual recovery package work best?


The programme aims to achieve enhanced capacity to respond quickly to natural disasters and improved design of recovery interventions leading to reduced overall community vulnerability to emergencies. It will implement recovery activities in randomly selected 200 villages, selected from a pool of 400 villages. 100 of the remaining villages will serves as control. Relief activities might start prior to recovery due to the urgent need to respond to the current floods. The programme will start towards the end of 2015 and last for four years, although the activities for the second, third and fourth year will be developed based on the lessons learned from the first year. The evaluation will exploit the random selection of treatment villages from a pool of eligible communities, prioritised by using secondary data.

The identification strategy allows to capture the impact of residual recovery interventions in the absence of further disasters, or the impact of the combination of residual recovery with relief interventions in the face of a humanitarian situation. Furthermore, different treatment arms will be included within the treated villages to test different approaches to residual recovery.

This award has been granted to the University of Mannheim.

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