Daniel Maxwell

Daniel MaxwellHenry J. Leir Professor in Food Security, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
Acting Director, Feinstein International Center

Working with Feinstein Since: 2006
Based in: Somerville, MA

Dan Maxwell leads the research program on food security and livelihoods in complex emergencies at the Feinstein International Center, where he also leads the overall strategy of the center. Dan works with governments, humanitarian agencies, and affected communities at the grass roots, national, and regional levels to build the evidence base for improved humanitarian and resilience programming and policy. He developed the coping strategies index (CSI), one of the most commonly used food security indicators that enables governments and NGOs responding to crises to quickly understand the food security status of large numbers of people.

From 2008–2011, he served as the chair of the Department of Food and Nutrition Policy at the Friedman School. Prior to joining Tufts, Dan spent twenty years in leadership positions with international NGOs and research institutes. He was deputy regional director for CARE International in Eastern and Central Africa, Rockefeller Post-Doctoral Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute, and worked for the Mennonite Central Committee for ten years in Tanzania and Uganda.

He holds a B.Sc. from Wilmington College, a master’s degree from Cornell University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin.

For all of Dan’s publications, please download his CV at the top of page.

Research Interests:
  • Humanitarian action
  • Resilience, livelihoods, food security, and the measurement of food security
  • Food aid
  • Emergency preparedness, information systems and contingency planning
  • Humanitarian operations and policy
Regional Focus:
  • East Africa
  • Greater Horn of Africa
Courses Taught:
  • Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies (NUTR 229/DHP D230), Fall Term
  • Seminar in Humanitarian Issues (NUTR 223), Fall Term
  • International Humanitarian Response (NUTR 324/DHP D-21), Spring Term
  • Transnational Social Issues: Humanitarian Assistance (GMA P215)
Most Cited Books and Articles:
  • Daniel Maxwell. 1996. “Measuring Food Insecurity: The Frequency and Severity of ‘Coping Strategies.’” Food Policy 21(3): 291–303.
  • Daniel Maxwell, Carol Levin, Margaret Armar-Klemesu, Marie Ruel, Saul Morris and Clement Ahiadeke. 2000. Urban Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Greater Accra.  IFPRI Research Report 112. Washington: International Food Policy Research Institute.
  • Daniel Maxwell. 1995. “Alternative Food Security Strategy: A Household Analysis of Urban Agriculture in Kampala.” World Development 23(10): 1669–1681.
  • Christopher Barrett and Daniel Maxwell. 2005. Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting its Role.  London: Routledge.
  • Daniel Maxwell. 1999. “The Political Economy of Urban Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.” World Development 27(11): 1939–1953.
Most Recent External Publications:
  • Daniel Maxwell and Nisar Majid. 2016. “Facing Famine: Somali Experiences in the Famine of 2011. Food Policy. Vol. 65 (December) pp. 63-73.
  • Daniel Maxwell and Nisar Majid. 2016. Famine in Somalia: Competing Imperatives, Collective Failures, 2011-2012. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Daniel Maxwell, Bapu Vaitla, and Jennifer Coates. 2014. “How Do Indicators of Household Food Insecurity Measure Up? An Empirical Comparison from Ethiopia.” Food Policy. 47: 107-117.
  • Daniel Maxwell, John Parker, and Heather Stobaugh. 2013. “What Drives Program Choice in Food Security Crises? Examining the ‘Response Analysis’ Question.” World Development 49(Sept): 68-79.
  • Helen Young and Daniel Maxwell. 2013. “Participation, Political Economy and Protection: The Governance of Food Aid in in the Darfur Region of Sudan.” Disasters 37(4): 555-578.
  • Daniel Maxwell and Merry Fitzpatrick. 2012. “The 2011 Somalia Famine: Context, Causes, and Complications.” Global Food Security 1(1): 5-12. Special Edition on the Somalia Famine 2011-2012.

News Items

Dan Maxwell weighs in about famine on NPR’s Goats and Soda
June 14, 2017

NPR’s monthly #CuriousGoat series answered reader questions about famine and hunger in May 2017. Daniel Maxwell was called upon to provide insight into the question: “What’s the difference between hunger…

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Daniel Maxwell and colleagues discuss famine, conflict, and political indifference in the BMJ
May 10, 2017

Daniel Maxwell and Nisar Majid joined Andrew Seal, Peter Hailey, and Rob Bailey to publish an editorial in the BMJ on May 10, 2017. The editorial, “Famine, conflict, and political…

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Feinstein Research Projects

The Humanitarian Evidence Program

The Humanitarian Evidence Program produces a series of evidence syntheses to distill humanitarian evidence and communicate it to key stakeholders in order to enable better decision-making and improve humanitarian policy and practice.

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Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium Generating stronger evidence on conflict situations

The Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium aims to generate a stronger evidence base on how people in conflict-affected situations make a living, access basic services like health care, education and water, and perceive and engage with governance at local and national levels.

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Feinstein Publications

Statebuilding and legitimacy: experiences of South Sudan

This report uses South Sudan as an example to interrogate people’s perceptions of the state, asking what – if not service delivery – fosters state legitimacy.

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Planning from the Future: Is the Humanitarian System Fit for Purpose?

Does the humanitarian system have the capacity and vision to respond effectively to the crises of today, tomorrow, and deep into the future? This report analyses the failings of the…

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