Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

HI2 Research

An Information Hub for Humanitarian Research at Brown

With the goal of facilitating collaboration across disciplines, here we highlight both ongoing and recently completed research projects that are being carried out by our Affiliated Faculty and International Fellows.   

Bayesian diagnostic for etiological management of pediatric diarrhea

The Humanitarian Innovation Initiative at Brown University has received funding from the Gates Foundation to develop a predictive tool to guide the treatment of pediatric diarrhea. HI² will be working with the University of Utah (project lead) on developing and testing a smartphone decision app that can provide healthcare workers with probability estimates of the etiology of individual cases of diarrhea in children. As part of an external validation of the prediction tool, pilot studies of the smartphone app will be conducted at two sites in Africa and South Asia.

Civilian-Military Coordination in Humanitarian Response: Expanding the Evidence Base

This collaborative project between Brown University’s Humanitarian Innovation Initiative (HI²) and the U.S. Naval War College’s Humanitarian Response Program (HRP) seeks to expand the evidence-base for effective civilian-military coordination in humanitarian response while developing new avenues for information sharing between humanitarian, military, and academic communities. Most importantly, it seeks to leverage these new networks and expanded knowledge-base to inform the development of new military doctrine and UN guidelines around civil-military coordination in the humanitarian space.

Development of a novel mobile health tool for age-specific dehydration assessment and management in patients with diarrheal disease

Dehydration due to diarrheal diseases remains a leading cause of death in both children and adults worldwide, yet no clinical tools have ever been validated for the assessment of dehydration severity in adults or children over five years of age with acute diarrhea. This research project will both develop and validate an innovative new mobile phone based platform for the assessment of dehydration severity in adults, adolescents, and older children with acute diarrhea. This new mobile health tool will help physicians, nurses, and other providers worldwide to determine the best management strategies for patients with acute diarrhea, potentially improving and rationalizing care for the hundreds of millions of patients each year presenting to healthcare facilities around the world with acute diarrhea.

Emotional Mapping and Natural Disasters: Exploring the Potential of Experience-Based Urban Planning Practices to Inform Humanitarian Action in Latin America and the Caribbean

Funded through the HI² Research Seed Grant Program, this project brings together an international and interdisciplinary team of researchers and practitioners to pilot and improve an innovative participatory emotional mapping methodology. Emotional mapping helps to access peoples’ experiences and emotions in a way that facilitates an understanding of the decision-making processes and behaviors of human beings. This is particularly important for disaster management because it has become increasingly necessary to understand and explain the so-called ‘irrational’ decisions and behaviors of ‘at risk’ people and humanitarian aid workers. 

Systematic Review of Humanitarian Logistic Models

The study’s goal is to enhance overall logistics service quality in the delivery of health and medical care in emergency humanitarian contexts in Africa and other developing regions. The research results will be useful to logisticians, buyers, donors, humanitarians and a range of relief workers and clinicians in charge of delivery of medical and health goods and services in the context of emergency humanitarian aid in developing regions.

Effectiveness of Faith Based Organizations in Disaster Response

This research is focused on a large-scale study of FBOs in Sri Lanka and Pakistan that provided relief and recovery services after the annual (monsoon) floods. The purpose of the study is to document the resources, networks, and collaborations used to provide relief and recovery services after the floods, and to assess the experiences, successes, and challenges that these organizations have in providing assistance. This research project is being funded by the HI² seed grant program.

Influence of Informal Power Actors on Humanitarian Intervention

The goal of this exploratory and investigative study is to better understand the informal power structures of a rural community in Bangladesh. The intention behind this approach is to acknowledge and formalize the involvement of the informal power actors in the decision making process. This study attempts to develop a methodology to identify the structure of these informal power actors and their influence in the implementation of external aid intervention. This research project is being funded by the HI² seed grant program.

Contemplative Peacebuilding in Colombia

Colombia has recently made unprecedented progress towards ending one of the longest armed conflicts in the world, entering a peacebuilding process which will include the demilitarization and reintegration of current combatants into society. However, psychosocial support is currently a small though critical component for ex-combatant reintegration. This presents an urgent call for the use of creative tools for personal and societal transformation. The goal for this project is to develop and implement a framework using contemplative practices for healing and peacebuilding with ex-combatants in the demilitarization process in Colombia. Over the next two years, in partnership with a a local non-profit in Medellin, Colombia, this framework will be developed and refined through a combination of qualitative, behavioral, and physiological research methodologies. In the end, this framework will be integrated into the local partner's core programming and a manual will be produced for use in Colombia and in other global peacebuilding contexts.

Management of Cholera and Severe Diarrheal Disease

Management of Cholera and Severe Diarrheal Disease

This 5-year project funded by the United States National Institutes of Health Fogarty International Center seeks to develop new tools for diagnosing and managing dehydration in children with cholera and other severe diarrheal disease in humanitarian emergencies and resource limited settings.

Ebola Research Collaborative

Ebola Research Collaborative

This project, funded by a consulting contract with International Medical Corps, seeks to analyze demographic, clinical, laboratory, and psychosocial data collected during the response to the recent Ebola Virus Disease epidemic in West Africa to develop new strategies for precenting, diagnosing and managing this deadly disease in sub-Saharan Africa.

Costs of War

Costs of War

First released in 2011, the Costs of War report has been compiled and updated by more than 30 economists, anthropologists, lawyers, humanitarian personnel, and political scientists as the first comprehensive analysis of over a decade of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. The Costs of War Project analyzes the implications of these wars in terms of human casualties, economic costs, and civil liberties.

Trust After Ebola 

Beyond the lives lost and livelihoods destroyed, the Ebola epidemic in West Africa has laid bare the deadly role that distrust of government can play in allowing an otherwise easily preventable virus to spiral out of control. In a collaborative effort lead by the MIT Governance Lab, a panel survey of Monrovia residents was conducted to help target Ebola recovery and response and to identify potentially promising mechanisms for regaining citizens’ trust both during and after the epidemic. The project was led by Principal Investigator and Professor Lily Tsai (MIT Governance Lab), along with Co-Investigators Benjamin Morse (MIT Governance Lab) and HI2 Affiliated Faculty member Robert Blair.