Dan Maxwell receives award for public impact

Dan Maxwell received the Mozaffarian Family Award for Public Impact in May 2023. This award is made annually to a Friedman School faculty member who has demonstrated exceptional public impact by working to improve regional, national, and/or international well-being for better health, equity, and/or sustainability.

Dan received this award for his tireless work on famine and food insecurity. In the last two years, as evidence mounted that the Greater Horn of Africa was facing famine or near-famine conditions, and the reverberations of the war in Ukraine dramatically worsened the situation, Dan engaged in an extraordinary effort that involved sponsored research and voluntary work to raise the alarm, provide evidence-based recommendations, and help avert famine.

During this period, his sponsored research provided critical insight and guidance to major donors such as the US and UK governments. These research efforts resulted in 13 publications on famine prevention, including peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, Famine Review Committee reports, and FIC and other reports. He also continued to teach “Famine Livelihoods and Resilience” with Merry Fitzpatrick.

His expertise put him in high demand from media and humanitarian leaders and involved him in the deliberations of the UN-sponsored Famine Review Committee, which makes authoritative determinations of whether famine has occurred globally. These activities, which were all undertaken on a voluntary basis without remuneration, included:

  • Over a dozen media interviews/quotations covering famine, including in Time Magazine and Time.com, the New York Times, AFP, NPR, Christian Science Monitor, The Economist, BBC, NBC, and The Conversation.
  • Four activations of the IPC Famine Review Committee (Ethiopia, Yemen and twice for Somalia) in 2021-2022.
  • Direct consultations with the UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator, Reena Ghelani (2023); with USAID Administrator, Samantha Power (2022); the Rockefeller Foundation Initiative on Humanitarian Funding Sustainability, led by Carol Bellamy and Catherine Bertini (2022); and the Global Network Against Food Crises.
  • A keynote address on famine prevention to the IGAD Conference on “Beyond Food Crises” in Nairobi, Kenya (Oct 2023) and other presentations at conferences organized by the IFRC Climate Center, Action Against Hunger, ODI, the International Rescue Committee, OECD, FAO, the Government of Kenya, and OCHA Somalia.
  • Convening nineteen roundtable discussions on famine prevention in Somalia and Ethiopia with UN agencies, NGOs, donors, government officials, and diplomats from late 2021 to 2023.

Dan’s tireless and expert contributions have made a significant difference to wider efforts and have helped lead to:

  • A broader awareness of famine and famine risk through the press coverage.
  • Additional funding for famine response through the trusted Famine Review Committee reports, which present need in a high-level, technically impartial manner.
  • More informed approaches by the UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator and the USAID Administrator.
  • The prevention of famine in 2022-23.