Aldo Benini


Humanitarian data analysis and modeling


Last updated:  29 December 2016


This page provides access to select papers and reports that I produced in the fields of

  1. Humanitarian data analysis and modeling
  2. Organizations of the poor

over the past twenty years, some together with other experts.

A few pieces of travel writing and photo albums are offered too.

With over 25 years of work experience, much of it in Africa and Asia, my skills profile is detailed in this CV with publication list. My formal competencies are in data analysis, survey design, monitoring and evaluation, modeling and simulation. They extend, due to my involvement in field management, public communication, and donor agency work, into programmatic and policy dialogue areas.

Substantively, I am most concerned with the progress and organizational strength of poor people, wherever they are, and with effective relief and protection extended to victims of disaster, injustice and violence.

What is special about my research? When I wrote a computer simulation inside a besieged town of southern Sudan in 1990 to help clarify relief food distribution scenarios, this was the first such exercise in the field of humanitarian studies. Since then, the field has kept growing beyond any individual's absorption capacity. I have been contributing to it through studies that bring disparate data sources together, some on a GIS platform, for non-trivial insights and perhaps planting the seeds of what others may eventually grow into the discipline of "humanitarian econometrics". Several of the papers exemplify this endeavor. Those from the last five years are focused on the measurement of severity of crises and disasters and on methodologies to analyze data in needs assessments. I wrote them for the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), under contract with the Norwegian Refugee Council.

In the rural development field, my work has been focused on NGOs in Bangladesh. One of them has been supporting 260 local federations of poor people. I have done two in-depth studies (1997, 2006) of this large-scale laboratory of a social movement. While there has been a surge lately in studies of membership-based organizations of the poor, this one may be unique for the wealth of structural and social-ecology effects that this dense "industry cluster" allowed me to document. The linking of internal and external data bodies, the use of sociological theory for model building, as well as the organization-environment perspective is what this study has in common with those in the humanitarian field. I conducted an in-depth study of community empowerment programs in Cambodia and Tanzania (2007-08), and an analysis of the partnership between the Bangladeshi NGO and over 400,000 of its microfinance program customers (2008-2011). Another study looks into the effects of parental and community literacy on children's primary school completion in Bangladesh (2012). More recently, I studied the evolution of an NGO-driven adult literacy program over 35 years and built models of learning and perceived utility for which my colleagues collected data with a variety of biographic, gaming and administrative methods (2013).

I will appreciate feedback and contacts from researchers and from humanitarian and development agencies wishing to explore cooperation. I can be contacted at

abenini [a t] starpower [ dot ] net [address broken up to thwart spammers]

The above photo was taken during my mission with the International Committee of the Red Cross in Mali, near Timbuctu, in 1991.


Thank you for visiting my Web pages.

Aldo Benini