Learning & Evidence


The Start Network aims to challenge and disrupt current ways of working in the humanitarian system to ensure assistance is provided more effectively and efficiently. Our strength lies in the power and efficiencies of the collective, our reach and our action.

Credit: Oxfam / Tommy Trenchard - worman in Lebanon

We provide services, ideas and opportunities to our members and the wider humanitarian sector that change ways of operating at all levels, and help lead the development of innovations both locally and globally.

We are creating change through new forms of financing with our piloting of risk financing models, our pooled funds and our forecast-based early action initiatives, and encouraging others to follow in our footsteps.

We are committed to localisation with clearly articulated goals striving for more diversity and complementary partnerships, and our hub development ensuring a more balanced governance, and visibility and voice to local decision-makers.

Our reach and influence is evident in the growth and support of the work we do. In 2018, we had interest from 238 organisations to join the Network, and each year, more and more donors are wanting to invest in the work we do.

Evaluations and Annual reports


Start Fund: Evaluation of Crisis Anticipation

In 2019, we commissioned our first evaluation of crisis anticipation at the Start Network. We were keen to reflect on our risk-taking, look at which hazards we needed to invest in to improve our skill, and learn how to better measure the quality of anticipation alert notes submitted to the Start Fund. A key element of this was to look back across anticipation alerts and see where our forecasted emergencies had happened as expected and what kind of differences we had seen. The evaluation looked at fourteen anticipatory projects from thirteen different forecasted crises. It concluded that half of them had not occurred, which prompted a wider review of all the projects where data was available to determine whether their forecasts were correct. To do this, we used information submitted by implementing agencies when their project has finished. We looked at data from 37 projects, which were implemented across 24 different forecasted emergencies. Thirty-six percent of forecasted emergencies took place as predicted or with a more significant impact, meaning 64% either did not occur or occurred with less intensity. While the Start Network saw a few ‘false alarms’ as a characteristic of a healthily risk-taking humanitarian system, the number of near misses seemed high. Looking into the data, we learned three key points which will inform our approach moving forward.



Mongolia: anticipation of harsh winter

Mongolia is unique. 30% of the population earn their livelihoods from herding livestock, leading a traditional nomadic life to enable their animals to access pasture throughout the year. Weather conditions can be extremely harsh, with long, stormy winters where temperatures can drop as low as -40C or -50C. Herders, and therefore the wider Mongolia economy, are vulnerable to the impacts of extreme winter weather. Dry summers can mean livestock do not gain the weight needed to survive winter, combined with harsh conditions this can cause mass livestock mortality known as ‘dzud’.



Start Network Annual Report 2018

The Start Network is revolutionising the way that humanitarian aid is being disbursed by fostering localisation, new financing and collective innovation.



DEPP Evaluation Summative Phase Report

This report provides the summative results from the three-year external impact evaluation of the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) conducted by a team at the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI).



Start Network Annual report 2017

Start Network's first annual report showcases its collective efforts to revolutionise the humanitarian aid system. Access the English report here, the report is also available in Arabic, French and Spanish.



التقرير السنوي لشبكة ستارت 2017

Start Network's first annual report showcases its collective efforts to revolutionise the humanitarian aid system. Access the Arabic report here, the report is also available in English, French and Spanish.



Start Network Rapport annuel 2017

Start Network's first annual report showcases its collective efforts to revolutionise the humanitarian aid system. Access the French report here, the report is also available in Arabic, English and Spanish.



Informe Anual de Start Network de 2017

Start Network's first annual report showcases its collective efforts to revolutionise the humanitarian aid system. Access the Spanish report here, the report is also available in Arabic, English and French.



Start Fund Annual Report 2018

Now moving into its fifth year of operation, the Start Fund is the fastest collectively-owned funding mechanism in the world. It is a leading enabler of rapid, needs-driven humanitarian response for overlooked crises. Filling a critical gap in humanitarian financing, it pools funding from donors for immediate release for crises around the world. In its fourth year alone the Start Fund spent over £8.8 million responding to the unmet needs of 2,050,546 people across 44 crises in 31 countries. Find out more about the work of the Start Fund, including our performance, how we are meeting our commitments to the Grand Bargain, our Anticipation Window, and why we hold localisation at the heart of our work.



Migration Emergency Response Fund Annual Report 2017

Over the past year, the Start Network has tested the flexibility of the Start Fund mechanism applied to one specific and highly volatile crisis context. The Mediterranean migration crisis has provided a testing platform for NGOs to use the Start Network’s peer review decision-making process to respond in one complex crisis. It aims to respond to rapidly changing contexts, spikes and emerging unforeseen needs within wider and highly politicised humanitarian response. The Migration Emergency Response Fund (MERF), funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), was established in January 2017 in partnership with the 15 member representatives of the Start Network present in the region. Its aim is to address the unpredictable nature of the mixed migration crisis across the Mediterranean that exacerbated an already difficult operating context for aid workers and made it difficult to plan for a response. 



Libya: Refugees and Migrants’ Access to Resources, Housing and Healthcare

Refugees and migrants in Libya are among the most vulnerable groups in the context of the ongoing humanitarian crisis. Due to the elevated level of insecurity and to the criminalisation of undocumented migrants, many are held in detention centres, with a number of studies pointing to their inadequate living conditions. On the other hand, very limited information is available on the protection needs and coping strategies of the wider population of refugees and migrants living outside detention facilities in Libya. In response to this gap, REACH, in partnership with the Start Network and NGO International Medical Corps conducted an assessment in three locations in Libya: Tripoli, Misrata and Sebha to shed light on refugees and migrants’ access to economic resources, housing and healthcare. The assessment was funded by the Migration Emergency Response Fund – managed by the Start Network – through its mechanism for collective information collection and analysis grants. REACH facilitates the development of information tools and products that enhance the capacity of aid actors to make evidence-based decisions in emergency, recovery and development contexts. For more information, please visit their website http://www.reach-initiative.org. 



Impact of the Context Staff Development project

From May 2015 to December 2017, RedR UK ran Context, an innovative professional development training programme, in the Middle East and East Africa. The programme was part of the Talent Development project, one of the many projects in the Disasters Emergencies Preparedness Programme . Context - an initiative of the Start Network, led globally by Oxfam GB with the support of UK Aid - is a comprehensive, dynamic staff development programme for humanitarian organisations. It aims to raise standards and quality in future humanitarian responses by building core skills as well as leadership and management capacity among humanitarian staff - especially national staff, who are increasingly at the forefront of humanitarian response. The project uses the Core Humanitarian Competencies Framework (CHCF) to develop staff skills across the wide range of competencies needed to work effectively in the humanitarian sector.


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