Dorian LaGuardia 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 been a perfect for jumping into action for communities 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 WFP, FAO, and UNICEF. This included performance training and organisational change, then evaluations that deployed evidence-rich and innovative approaches, and then leading one of DFID’s most innovative M&E programmes in the world. This work has led to changes great and small, from process improvements for cash distribution to providing the ‘real time’ data and evidence to guide the 2017 $1.2 billion dollar response to prevent famine in Somalia.
Throughout this work, Dorian pushes and prods, argues and demands, for data to drive discussions about performance. He has little appetite for mere conjecture--people with lots of opinions who can point to certain results but who have no real sense of what contributes to these results.
Dorian and a rough and tumble team of "Quants," 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, have started to pull the threads together for a new way of doing humanitarian action. It includes highly articulated, statistically sound, and sometimes crazy-innovative, methods for capturing and analysing diverse data; methods for fully leveraging technology, including the proliferation of mobile/Smart phones and online portals for sophisticated multivariate analysis; and, using day-to-day operational insights into what interventions and combinations of interventions make most sense in different contexts.
Humanitarian Analytics is a place for those 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 dig deeper and to come up with new ways of doing things that have been unquestionable in the past. It is a place to think and shout! It may be a humble little space but it is our space.