Daniel Maxwell

Daniel MaxwellHenry J. Leir Professor in Food Security and Research Director
Henry J. Leir Professor in Food Security, Friedman School of Nutrition
Professor, Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy
Director, Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance (MAHA) Program

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

Daniel Maxwell directs the Food Security and Livelihoods in Complex Emergencies Research Program at the Feinstein International Center. In 2016-2017, he served as the acting director of the Center. His recent research focuses on the re-emergence of famines in the 21st century and the politics of analyzing and declaring famine. Dan also researches humanitarian information systems, food security, and livelihood systems under stress. He teaches courses on food security, humanitarian action, humanitarian policy, and food insecurity in situations of crisis and chronic vulnerability.

Prior to joining the faculty at Tufts, Dan worked for two decades for humanitarian agencies and research institutes in Tanzania, Uganda, Ghana, and Kenya. His most recent position was Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa for CARE International.

He is the author, with Kirsten Gelsdorf, of Understanding the Humanitarian World (Routledge, 2019). He is the author, with Nisar Majid, of Famine in Somalia: Competing Imperatives, Collective Failures (Oxford University Press, 2016). He is the co-author, with Chris Barrett of Cornell University, of Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role (Routledge, 2005).

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

Research Interests:
  • Famine and acute humanitarian crises
  • Humanitarian information systems
  • Resilience, livelihoods, food security, and the measurement of food security
  • Food assistance
  • Emergency preparedness and contingency planning
  • Humanitarian action and policy
Regional Focus:
  • Sub-Saharan 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-213), Spring Term
  • Transnational Social Issues: Humanitarian Assistance (GMAP 215)
  • Famine, Livelihoods, and Resilience: Directed Study, Spring Term
Most Cited Books and Articles:
  • Maxwell, D. “Measuring Food Insecurity: The Frequency and Severity of ‘Coping Strategies.’” Food Policy 21, 3 (1996). 291–303.
  • Maxwell, D., Levin, C., Armar-Klemesu, M., Ruel, M., Morris, S., Ahiadeke, C. “Urban Livelihoods, Food and Nutrition Security in Greater Accra.” IFPRI Research Report 112. Washington: International Food Policy Research Institute. (2000).
  • Maxwell, D. “Alternative Food Security Strategy: A Household Analysis of Urban Agriculture in Kampala.” World Development 23, 10 (1995). 1669–1681.
  • Barrett, C. & Maxwell, D. Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting its Role. London: Routledge. (2005).
  • Maxwell, D. “The Political Economy of Urban Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.” World Development 27, 11 (1999). 1939–1953.
Most Recent External Publications:
  • Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey, Abdullahi Khalif and Francesco Checchi. 2020. “Determining Famine: A Multi-Dimensional Analysis for the 21st Century.” Food Policy. Vol. 92 (April) Article 101832. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foodpol.2020.101832
  • Bapu Vaitla, Jennifer Cisse, Joanna Upton, Girmay Tesfaye, Nigussie Abadi, and Daniel Maxwell. 2020. “How the choice of food security indicators affects the assessment of resilience—an example from northern Ethiopia.” Food Security. Vol. 12(1), pp.137–150. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12571-019-00989-w
  • Daniel Maxwell and Kirsten Gelsdorf. 2019. Understanding the Humanitarian World. London: Routledge.
  • Daniel Maxwell and Peter Hailey. 2018. “The Re-emergence of Famine in the 21st Century.” Special Edition on, “La lutte contre la famine: un mythe de Sisyphe?” Politorbis. No. 66. (March). pp.13-22.

News Items

Feinstein researchers extrapolate lessons about truth in the Covid-19 crises from famine analysis
May 11, 2020

Famine, COVID-19, and the Politics of Information and Analysis by: Anne Radday, Peter Hailey, and Daniel Maxwell “In war, truth is the first casualty.” Aeschylus Greek tragic dramatist (525 BC…

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Daniel Maxwell, Jeeyon Kim, and Sabrina Robillard publish about social networks and COVID-19 in The Conversation
March 31, 2020

COVID-19 compromises social networks. What this means for people in humanitarian crises Iraqi, Iranian and Somali asylum seekers at a tent camp in the Netherlands. ROBIN UTRECHT/AFP/GettyImages Jeeyon Kim, Visiting…

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Feinstein Research Projects

Social Connectedness, Livelihoods, and Resilience in Complex Emergencies

In this partnership with Mercy Corps, the Feinstein International Center team investigates the nature of social networks and social connectedness, and explores how humanitarian assistance can strengthen these as a key aspect of resilience, recovery and relief interventions in complex humanitarian emergencies.

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The Constraints and Complexities of Information and Analysis

This study seeks to understand the availability and quality of information, and the external influences on data collection and analysis for the classification of food emergencies.

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Feinstein Publications

Classifying Acute Food Insecurity Using the Household Hunger Scale

This study employed an active case identification approach to identifying the worst affected households in communities and make recommendations for how classification could be further improved.

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Briefing Paper: The Politics of Information and Analysis in Famines and Extreme Emergencies: Synthesis of Findings from Six Case Studies
By Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey | June 2020

This is a brief on the full report of the study that synthesized findings from six different country case studies, noting influences on data collection and analysis processes during emergencies.

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