Helen Young

Helen YoungResearch Director and Professor
Professor, Friedman School of Nutrition Science

Working with Feinstein Since: 1998
Based in: London, England

Helen Young directs Feinstein’s Research Program on Nutrition, Livelihoods, and Conflict. She has led several multi-year research programs in the Horn of Africa, especially in Sudan and Chad, involving national and international partners and multi-disciplinary teams. Her research on building resilience of people in conflict-affected regions aims to bridge the gap between local realities, policy, practice, and research. She is committed to fostering professional networks that span academia, civil society, government, and non-government organizations to promote shared understanding of complex problems.

In Sudan her research tracking pastoralist livestock migrations in real-time seized the imagination of senior policy makers and has influenced politicians, policies, and resource allocations in Sudan. This work provided scientific evidence of the environmental principles underpinning pastoralists’ successful adaptation to the unpredictable distribution of rains and pasture in this semi-arid region and the rationale for pastoralist mobility.

For 25 years Helen has researched nutrition in emergencies, influencing UN technical guidelines, the IPC nutrition and mortality indicators, Sphere Minimum Standards of Disaster Response, and INGO practical guides. Helen has been the co-editor of the journal Disasters since 1997 and is on the Editorial Board of the Food and Nutrition Bulletin. She is an active member of the Action Contre le Faim (ACF) International Scientific Committee and a member of the Advisory Group to the Humanitarian Policy Group, Overseas Development Institute. She is the author of more than 60 publications.

Prior to joining Feinstein, Helen worked with Oxfam GB as an Emergency Nutritionist and Senior Nutritional Advisor in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Burundi, North Korea, South Sudan, and Sudan. She has also worked as a nutrition consultant with the World Food Programme, Unicef, UNHCR, FAO and the World Bank.

Helen received her B.Sc. in nutrition and food science from Oxford Polytechnic, and her Ph.D. in food science from the Council for National Academic Awards, UK.

She lives in Twickenham, England with her partner Rob, her two sons, and their dog.

Research Interests:
  • The drivers of acute malnutrition and their seasonal patterns.
  • The adaptation and transformation of farming and pastoralist systems in conflict affected semi-arid regions.
  • Innovative mixed methods for promoting shared learning and building capacities, through multi-level research partnerships.
Regional Focus:

Sudan, South Sudan, Chad, and Ethiopia

Most Cited Books and Articles:

Young, H. & Jacobsen, K. “No way back? Adaptation and urbanization of IDP livelihoods, Darfur 2006 – 2008.” Development and Change 44, 1 (2013). 125-145.

Young, H. & Jaspars, S. “Review of Nutrition and Mortality Indicators for the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Reference Levels and Decision-making. A study commissioned by: The SCN Task Force on Assessment, Monitoring and Evaluation, and The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) Global Partners.” (2009).

Young, H., Osman, A., Aklilu, Y., Dale, R., Badri, B., Jabbar Abdullah Fuddle, A. “Darfur – Livelihoods under Siege.” Medford, MA, USA: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University. (2005).

Young, H, Borrel, A., Holland, D., Salama, P. “Public nutrition in complex emergencies: Aims, analysis and action.” The Lancet 364, 9448 (2004). 1899-1909.

Lautze, S., Aklilu, Y., Raven-Roberts, A., Young, H., Kebede, G., Leaning, J.  “Risk and Vulnerability in Ethiopia: Learning from the past, responding to the present, preparing for the future.” Medford, MA, USA: Feinstein International Center, Tufts University and Inter-University Initiative on Humanitarian Studies and Field Practice. (2003).


Most Recent External Publications:

Marshak, A., Young, H., Bontrager, E., Boyd, E. “The relationship between acute malnutrition, hygiene practices, water and livestock, and their programme implications in eastern Chad.” Food and Nutrition Bulletin 38, 1 (2017). 117.

Young, H. & Goldman, L. eds. Livelihoods, Natural Resources, and Post-Conflict Peacebuilding. USA, UK, Canada: Earthscan from Routledge, 2015.

Monium, A., Young, H., Houser, R. F., & Coates, J. C. “Agricultural Change, Land, and Violence in Protracted Political Crisis An examination of Darfur.” Boston, USA: Oxfam America. (2013). http://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/media/files/Darfur-Land-Research-Oxfam.pdf

Young, H., & Maxwell, D. “Participation, political economy and protection: food aid governance in Darfur, Sudan.” Disasters, 37, 4 (2013). 555-578.

News Items

Young, Fitzpatrick, Marshak, Radday, Staro, and Venkat publish Lessons for Taadoud II
September 20, 2019

Helen Young, Merry Fitzpatrick, Anastasia Marshak, Anne Radday, Francesco Staro, Aishwarya Venkat published “Lessons for Taadoud II: Improving Natural Resource Management,” It reviews literature on six key areas related to…

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Helen Young and Musa Ismail discuss Resilience to Climate Extremes in Disasters special issue
April 7, 2019

On April 4th, 2019, Helen Young and Musa Adam Ismail published an article in a special issue of Disasters focusing on Resilience from the Ground Up. The article, titled “Complexity,…

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Feinstein Research Projects

Taadoud Transition to Development Project I & II

The broad aim of the SHARP Taadoud operational research is to strengthen the impact of resilience-related actions and interventions.

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Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters

Building Resilience and Adaptation to Climate Extremes and Disasters (BRACED), is a £140m project designed to improve the resilience of the most poor to climate extremes and shocks.

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Feinstein Publications

Lessons for Taadoud II: Improving Natural Resource Management

This publication reviews activities in five Darfur states, providing contexts in these settings to analyze how they directly affect research in second phase of the Taadoud project. This desk review is to serve as a foundation and reference for the development of training materials, policy briefs, and research studies as part of the Taadoud II program. 

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تغير تنقل المواشي في غرب دارفور فهم الاستمرارية والتغيير
By Hussein Sulieman, Helen Young | April 2019

أظهرت الدراسات السابقة أنّ التنقل الذي يمارسه الرعاة يوفر مزايا كبيرة في الأراضي الجافة من خلال تمكين قطعان الماشية من الوصول إلى الرعي الأفضل جودة على مدار العام. تواجه أنماط…

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