Dorian LaGuardia, Director at Third Reef Solutions, has had a fairly odd and sometimes meandering path into humanitarian action. While he studied the Middle East in undergraduate and graduate schools and would have bene a perfect match for jumping into action for communities in need around the world, he ended up working in investment banking. (For his sins!) It took him 10 years of private sector experience to make his way back to the public sector. He started doing consultancy focused on performance and results in UN organisations like FAO, WFP, and UNICEF. This led to evaluations on a range of subjects and then, while living in Nairobi, being the Senior M&E Advisor for DFID's 4-year humanitarian programme in Somalia.
Throughout this work, Dorian pushes and prods, argues and demands (as much as a consultant can) for evidence that demonstrates why certain results were achieved or missed. He has little appetite for mere conjecture--people who have lots of opinions and can point to certain results but who have no real sense of what precisely contributes to these results. Where was the evidence?
Dorian and his rough and tumble team of "Quants," applied statisticians, technology geeks, and people steeped in humanitarian action around the world, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Palestine, DRC, CAR, Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, and Haiti, amongst other places, started pulling the threads together for a new way of humanitarian action. It includes highly articulated, statistically sound, methods for capturing and analysing diverse data; methods for fully leveraging technology, including the proliferation of mobile/Smart phones and rapid on-line portals for sophisticated multi-variant analysis; and, practical, operational insights into what interventions and combinations of interventions make most sense in different humanitarian responses. This thinking makes the current coordination structure(s), financing models, appeals, and the neglect of local actors best placed to deliver results, seem more than antiquated. It makes them seem almost criminal.
Humanitarian Analytics is a place for those of us who see data rich, technologically savvy, efficient and effective ways of serving communities in need, as our duty as humanitarians. It is a place to think and shout! It is place to poke and prod, to dig deeper, and to come up with new ways of doing things that too many have taken for granted. it may be a humble little space but it is our space.