Community update: MEAL (May 2019): Blockchain, learning from data, Sphere, SOHS, and ALNAP's annual meeting

Volker Hüls
Volker Hüls
Volker Hüls works as a consultant, evaluating humanitarian programs. He currently lives in Tanzania.
Volker has 20 years’ experience in international assistance, with most of these at the nexus between humanitarian and development programs. Before his international work, he was a civil protection practitioner in Germany. He has authored and co-authored recent humanitarian evaluation syntheses, and has this year evaluated responses in Syria, South Sudan, and Nigeria.
Community updates provide brief highlights from expert practitioners about what they see as the key developments in a specific area, what resources they would recommend, and what to look out for in the coming months.

Key developments in the area of MEAL

Blockchains for humanitarians – a stocktaking

ODI published a very interesting report in February that presents and analyses examples of blockchain technology (or to be more correct as the report points out, “distributed ledger technologies”) being used in humanitarian operations. Unsurprisingly these examples focus on how the technology makes cash assistance more secure and robust. While such technologies have a huge potential for better data security – and consequently data protection – so far these have not been explored. Early days, but definitely a good paper to help get our head around what these technologies could mean for humanitarian work.

A different perspective on learning from data

For those interested in exploring how to better use data, the “Design for Humanity Summit 2019” promises to be an interesting event. Taking place on June 21 in New York, it looks at the role of design in humanitarian response. This is the second time this event is organized, and this year it includes a very intriguing focus on “curating memory” from data. Basically, it aims to explore how to turn data and analytical trends, the often dry “nuts and bolts” information we collect and share, into stories of people and their experiences. Focusing on the displaced and people on the move, this is potentially a very powerful process.

New training package for the revised Sphere standards

Sphere released a new training package last month for the target="_blank"revised Sphere Handbook. This is a great resource for those who need to train staff and partners on the ground on applying the new standards. It is freely downloadable, and can be used for both short training events on specific topics or complete Sphere standard workshops.

Recommended resources

Blockchains for humanitarians:

Design for Humanity:

Information on the Design for Humanity event on June 21 can be found here:
Many of the sessions from last year’s event were recorded. You can watch the videos here:


The new SPHERE standards training package available here:

Keep an eye out for...

The ALNAP annual meeting has been announced for 15-17 October in Berlin, focusing on the relevance of humanitarian response for the people they aim to serve. More information will be available on the ALNAP website.
PHAP community updates are written by members of the association and other practitioners in their personal capacity. The views expressed belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of PHAP or any other organizations with which the author is associated.