The Politics of Information and Analysis in Humanitarian Emergencies: Evidence from Ethiopia

Politics of Information

In 1984–85, Ethiopia was famously the scene of a major famine that formed a generation’s view of what famine looks like. The analysis and media depiction of that famine were highly politicized. This study examines the politics of information and its influences on humanitarian information systems in Ethiopia today.

In the 1980s, Ethiopia developed a national food security information system that provides data to construct the annual humanitarian response. Since 2006 this information system has been linked to the Productive Safety Net Program and has activated life-saving responses in several emergencies.

Nevertheless, information about famine, food insecurity, and malnutrition remain highly sensitive. This study found that various levels of government and international agencies still attempt to influence information in these food security systems—through suppressing certain kinds of information or changing figures for populations in need. This report discusses these and other challenges and provides recommendations for managing the political influences and improving the technical quality of the data and analysis. Researchers from the Feinstein International Center and the Centre for Humanitarian Change in Nairobi jointly wrote this report.






thumbnail image of report cover

This briefing describes the key elements and issues associated with conflict in pastoralist areas across sub-Saharan Africa.

thumbnail image of report cover

Ce document d’information décrit les éléments clés et les enjeux associés aux conflits dans les zones pastorales d’Afrique subsaharienne.

Thumbnail image of report cover

This study examines how anticipatory action was perceived and experienced among Ethiopians living with drought alongside other crises.

Thumbnail image of cover

This learning brief presents preliminary findings on strategic mobility and its nutritional benefits to pastoral and agropastoral communities in select sites in Isiolo and Marsabit Counties, Kenya.

Thumbnail of Report "Do Famine Declarations Really Lead to Increased Funding?

This policy brief examines the relationship between famine declarations and funding since 2011. It shows that, with that one exception, there is little evidence that famine declarations actually result in a rapid increase in funding.

Image of Brief Cover: Actingin in Advance of Flooding

In 2022 UN OCHA led a pilot anticipatory action intervention in South Sudan. This brief presents UN actors’ perceptions of this intervention.

Load more