The “Do No Harm” Framework for Analyzing the Impact of Assistance on Conflict: A Handbook




Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


CDA Collaborative Learning Projects


"Although it is clear that, by itself, assistance neither causes nor can end conflict, it can be a significant factor in conflict contexts. Assistance can have important effects on intergroup relations and on the course of intergroup conflict. In a DNH IMPLEMENTATION PROJECT area, for example, one NGO provided 90% of all local employment in a sizable region over a number of years. In another, the NGO estimated that militia looting of assistance garnered US $400 million in one brief (and not unique) rampage. Both of these examples occurred in very poor countries where assistance's resources represented significant wealth and power. At the same time, giving no assistance would also have an impact—often negative. The DNH has thus chosen to focus on how to provide assistance more effectively and how those of us who are involved in providing assistance in conflict areas can assume responsibility and hold ourselves accountable for the effects that our assistance has in worsening and prolonging, or in reducing and shortening, destructive conflict between groups whom we want to help. The DO NO HARM “Analytical Framework” was developed from the programming experience of many assistance workers. It provides a tool for mapping the interactions of assistance and conflict and can be used to plan, monitor and evaluate both humanitarian and development assistance programmes. The Framework is NOT prescriptive. It is a descriptive tool that: 1) identifies the categories of information that have been found through experience to be important for understanding how assistance affects conflict; 2) organizes these categories in a visual lay-out that highlights their actual and potential relationships; and 3) helps us predict the impacts of different programming decisions."



Conflict Prevention, Program Evaluation, Aid


The Do No Harm Project. The “Do No Harm” Framework for Analyzing the Impact of Assistance on Conflict: A Handbook. Cambridge, MA: CDA Collaborative Learning Projects, 2004.