Daniel Maxwell

Daniel MaxwellHenry J. Leir Professor in Food Security and Research Director
Director, Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance (MAHA) Program


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

Daniel Maxwell is the Henry J. Leir Professor in Food Security at the Friedman School of Nutrition and The Fletcher School at Tufts University, and Research Director at the Feinstein International Center. In 2016-2017, he served as the acting director of the Center. His recent research focuses on food security and the re-emergence of famines in the 21st century. He teaches courses on humanitarian action and humanitarian policy, as well as famine and food insecurity. He directs the Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance (MAHA) program at Tufts.

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).

Since 2014, Dan has been a member of the Famine Review Committee for the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification system—the formal mechanism by which contemporary famines are analyzed and declared. Prior to joining the faculty at Tufts, Dan worked for two decades for humanitarian agencies, mostly in Africa. His most recent position was Deputy Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa for CARE International.

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 and the politics of information and analysis
  • Early warning and anticipatory action
  • Emergency preparedness and contingency planning
  • The “localization” of humanitarian action
  • Resilience, livelihoods, food security, and food security measurement
  • Livelihood systems under stress
  • Humanitarian action and policy
Regional Focus:
  • Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Greater Horn of Africa
  • North Africa/Middle East
Courses Taught:
  • Humanitarian Action in Complex Emergencies (NUTR 229/DHP D230), Fall Term
  • Seminar in Humanitarian Issues (NUTR 223), Fall Term
  • Famine, Livelihoods, and Resilience (NUTR 339), Spring Term
  • International Humanitarian Response (NUTR 324/DHP D-213), Spring Term
Most Cited Books and Articles:
  • Maxwell, Daniel G. “Measuring Food Insecurity: the Frequency and Severity of ‘Coping Strategies.’” Food Policy 21, no. 3 (1996): 291–303. https://doi.org/10.1016/0306-9192(96)00005-x.
  • Maxwell, Daniel, Carol Levin, Margaret Armar-Klemesu, Marie Ruel, Saul Morris, and Clement Ahiadeke. “Urban Livelihoods and Food and Nutrition Security in Greater Accra, Ghana.” International Food Policy Research Institute 112 (2000). https://doi.org/10.2499/0896291154rr112.
  • Maxwell, Daniel G. “Alternative Food Security Strategy: A Household Analysis of Urban Agriculture in Kampala.” World Development 23, no. 10 (1995): 1669–81. https://doi.org/10.1016/0305-750x(95)00073-l.
  • Barrett, Christopher, and Daniel Maxwell. “Food Aid after Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role.” London: Routledge (2005).
  • Maxwell, Daniel. “The Political Economy of Urban Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa.” World Development 27, no. 11 (1999): 1939–53. https://doi.org/10.1016/s0305-750x(99)00101-1.
Most Recent External Publications:
  • Maxwell, Daniel, and Peter Hailey. 2021. “Analyzing Famine: The Politics of Information and Analysis in Food Security Crises.” Journal of Humanitarian Affairs Vol. 3 (1), pp. 16-27 http://dx.doi.org/10.7227/JHA.055.
  • Maxwell, Daniel, Abdullahi Khalif, Peter Hailey, and Francesco Checchi. “Viewpoint: Determining Famine: Multi-Dimensional Analysis for the Twenty-First Century.” Food Policy 92 (2020): 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.
  • Maxwell, Daniel, and Kirsten Heidi Gelsdorf. Understanding the Humanitarian World. (London: Routledge 2019).
  • Maxwell, Daniel, and Peter Hailey. “Foreword: The Re-Emergence of Famine in the 21st Century.” Special Edition on, “La lutte contre la famine: un mythe de Sisyphe?” Politorbis. No. 66 (2018), pp. 13-22.
  • Maxwell, Daniel and Nisar Majid. Famine in Somalia: Competing Imperatives, Collective Failures. (Oxford University Press, 2016).

News Items

Daniel Maxwell and Peter Hailey published a paper in the JHA on analyzing famine
September 20, 2021

Daniel Maxwell and Peter Hailey published a paper in the Journal of Humanitarian Affairs (JHA) titled, “Analyzing Famine: The Politics of Information and Analysis in Food Security Crises.” This paper synthesizes the…

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Feinstein Researchers publish about hunger deaths in The New Humanitarian
February 8, 2021

Daniel Maxwell, Peter Hailey, and colleagues published an article in The New Humanitarian, which discuses how humanitarians must focus on the loss of death and urgently preventing it rather than…

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Feinstein Research Projects

Humanitarian Information Systems: Anticipating, Analyzing, and Acting in Crisis

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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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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Feinstein Publications

Early Warning and Early Action for Increased Resilience of Livelihoods in IGAD Region

Multiple calls have been issued for better preparedness, early warning, and, above all, early action to prevent hunger and malnutrition, reduce the scale of food insecurity, improve resilience, and reduce…

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“I could not sleep while they were hungry”: Investigating the role of social networks in Yemen’s humanitarian crisis

This brief report presents initial findings from a study investigating the role of social networks in Yemen’s humanitarian crisis.

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