Washington, DC - Knowledge for scalable and effective coherence implementation requires metrics for monitoring and systematic analyses. Coherence frameworks have evolved from linear models to those embracing complexity, such as Connectedness, Early Recovery, Whole of Government and Resilience.

These frameworks provide roadmaps for capturing anticipated benefits, including increased efficiency, reduced costs, improved outcomes for beneficiaries, greater involvement of national governments, and delivering on Sustainable Development Goals during protracted crises. Among these, the resilience framework has been embraced by humanitarian and development actors alike. Existing empirical research suggests coherence is fostered by coordination and decentralization, is a greater priority for donors and United Nations agencies as compared with non-governmental organizations, and varies across sectors. Further, in protracted crises, findings from empirical studies of coherence programs provide conflicting results, due in part to the differences in political, security and economic conditions across the examined countries. Implementing coherence requires overcoming both philosophical and practical challenges. Among the former, is the fear that collaboration will result in politicization of humanitarian activities and potentially a breach of humanitarian principles. The latter, practical challenges, are numerous. An analysis of over 30 coherence concept papers identified challenges or gaps in: (1) vision and strategy, (2) planning, (3) funding, (4) institutions, (5) geographic factors, (6) ownership, and (7) sequencing. Penn State’s research, funded by PRM, which includes strategic and operational level efforts, will account for funding, institutional and geographic gaps at the strategic level, and ownership and sequencing gaps at the operational level. It involves policy analyses and defining both strategic and operational metrics for coherence. The research has implications for both humanitarian policies and programs. Improved policy making will result from our linking national coherence policies and strategies to concrete metrics for coherence. Through comparative analyses across countries, the derived insights provide the basis for more impactful policies. Penn State intends to conduct its research in Uganda and Ecuador and expects to finish by the end of August, 2021.

Goals and Objectives

The project will conduct research to define strategic and operational coherence metrics that will enable the identification of new coherence opportunities and provide guidance for improved coherence efforts.

  • Generate insights from policy analyses;
  • Specify strategic coherence metrics;
  • Specify operational coherence metrics;
  • Generate tools for assessing and fostering coherence;

Generate impact through dissemination.