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II-d: Evaluating Humanitarian Action: Steps, Challenges, and Real-time Learning

On-Site Workshop
Part of
Session Two
July 25 - 26
Introductory to intermediate
Recommended for
Commissioners, Evaluators, Management, Practitioners


Evaluations of humanitarian action are more relevant than ever in a world where we are seeing crisis upon crisis and a strong call from both development and humanitarian actors for accountability and learning to be at the core of what we do. The sector needs more evaluators and evaluation managers who are attuned to the challenges and sensitivities of modern humanitarian action and who are better prepared to use innovative ways of evaluating and learning from crisis response, often in real-time, to support hard-pressed practitioners. This workshop will offer the opportunity to learn from seasoned evaluators in an interactive setting that combines presentations with group work, where learning will be applied to real-life case studies. Participants will hear about the stages of evaluating humanitarian action and engage with one another to propose solutions to some of the sector’s most pressing challenges unfolding in real-time in contexts like Ukraine. Throughout the workshop, topics pertinent to the humanitarian sector, including accountability to affected populations and localization, will be touched on to give participants a sense of the broad range of considerations that humanitarian evaluations require.

The workshop will provide a brief overview of key issues relevant to humanitarian evaluations today, drawing from ALNAP’s Evaluation of Humanitarian Action (EHA) guide. Participants will also explore how to plan and conduct real-time learning exercises, as this has become an increasingly important approach to support humanitarian practitioners and improve humanitarian action.

ALNAP’s research and network have highlighted the popularity of real-time learning exercises and pointed to concrete reasons why this approach is critical to humanitarian decision-makers and practitioners. Real-time learning exercises are more adaptive, flexible, and timely in meeting immediate learning needs required in humanitarian contexts. They are widely considered to support adaptive management, providing an approach suited to an organization’s learning needs and culture. They are user-focused and more likely to promote the utilization of emerging lessons and findings. And importantly, they provide a safe space for staff to pause, reflect and share what has not worked as well as achievements and successes, helping to capture individual staff knowledge to support and document wider organizational learning.

This workshop will use a combination of recent ALNAP research and practitioner insights from lectures who have worked on a wide range of humanitarian evaluations at the global scale and in specific crisis contexts such as Ukraine. Participants will get a 360-degree view of important considerations in the evaluation of humanitarian action and a practical, in-depth look at real-time learning exercises.


After this course, participants will have a general understanding of the issues critical to contemporary evaluations of humanitarian action, including the increasingly popular use of real-time evaluative learning exercises.

Participants will also gain a deeper understanding of:

  • Critical stages, challenges and ethical aspects of evaluations of humanitarian action;
  • Key features of real-time evaluative learning exercises, including planning and implementation (roles involved, question selection, methods, analysis, communicating findings to facilitate learning & uptake, etc.);
  • Practical applications explored through case studies that cover different contexts.

recommended for

This workshop is designed primarily for evaluators, evaluation managers, as well as humanitarian decision-makers and evaluation commissioners. It is suitable for both practitioners with previous experience in humanitarian action who are interested in learning about real-time exercises, and evaluators with experience in development evaluations who would like exposure to and are curious about how to apply their evaluation skills to humanitarian action. Young and emerging evaluators can also follow this workshop to deepen their understanding of evaluations in the humanitarian sector.


Introductory to intermediate level and suitable for a wide range of professionals interested in learning about evaluating humanitarian action and real-time exercises.


Previous knowledge and experience of evaluation are welcome but not essential. Experience in humanitarian action would be particularly advantageous, though previous knowledge of basic evaluation concepts and experience working as an evaluator and/or commissioner will support the application of what is covered. Case studies will be provided for preparation ahead of time, or participants may choose to work on their actual context/scenario for planning a real-time exercise.

Organizers of this workshop

Ukrainian Evaluation Association (UEA) & the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP)

UEA is a non-governmental professional association in the field of evaluation of projects, programs, policies and organizational development in Ukraine.
ALNAP is a multi-stakeholder global network. It aims to learn how the response to humanitarian crises can be improved. The Library of Resources on Humanitarian Evaluation, Learning and Performance (HELP Library) hosts documents such as evaluations, tools, manuals, and articles.