The Centre for Humanitarian Data aims to increase the use and impact of data in the humanitarian sector. Our vision is to create a future where all people involved in a humanitarian response have access to the data they need, when and how they need it, to make responsible and informed decisions.

The Centre focuses on four areas: data services, data responsibility, data literacy, and predictive analytics. The data services workstream focuses the management of the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX) platform, the development and use of the Humanitarian Exchange Language (HXL) data standard, and support to the International Aid Transparency Initiative. The data responsibility worksteam focuses on the development and adoption of data responsibility guidelines and different techniques for the secure management of data, both within OCHA and the broader humanitarian system. The data literacy workstream focuses on improving the data skills of technical and non-technical humanitarians through the delivery of online and in-person training programmes. The predictive analytics workstream focuses on model development and quality assurance of partner models through validation and a peer review process.

Data Fellows Programme

The Centre’s Data Fellows Programme began in 2018 and supports all four workstreams. This high-profile initiative is designed to expose the Centre team and partners to new areas of data-related expertise that can impact humanitarian response and advance the goals of the Centre. The structure of the programme provides Fellows with exposure to different parts of the humanitarian system while allowing them to focus time and energy on an individual project that addresses a challenge related to the use and impact of data in the sector. 

The Centre will host its fourth class of Data Fellows in June and July 2021. The Fellows will focus on three areas: Data Journalism, Predictive Analytics, and Strategic Communications. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 programme will be conducted remotely, with Fellows working from home under the direction of the Coordinator for the Data Fellows Programme.


Data Journalism: As the volume and use of data increases within the humanitarian sector, the focus has shifted to how data-driven insights translate into action at a global, regional, and local level. One creative approach to addressing this challenge is through data journalism: bringing narrative and data together to tell a more complex and compelling story. Through the work of previous Fellows, the Centre has produced engaging stories that put affected people at the center of the experience, such as with the data stories on displacement in South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Yemen. The Centre requires a Data Journalism Fellow to build on this experience and produce a new data story that brings to life the experience of one family living in a country with a humanitarian crisis.


Predictive Analytics: Although predictive analytics is not a new field, its application in humanitarian response has only just begun. The increasing availability of data from a variety of sources, together with advancements in statistics and machine learning, is generating a growing interest in using models to gain insight and trigger anticipatory action in humanitarian response. When it comes to modeling for humanitarian operations, the goal is to analyze current and historical data to predict an event or some characteristic of an event (the probability, severity, magnitude, or duration). By creating an early signal of need that is tied to pre-agreed financing and actions, the response has the potential to be faster, cheaper and better, with more lives saved and protected. The Centre requires a Predictive Analytics Fellow to explore additional areas of potential relevance for predictive analytics in humanitarian action.


Strategic Communications (Data Responsibility): Communicating about the use and impact of data in the humanitarian sector is essential to driving continued investment and collective action. To do this effectively requires new approaches to explaining complex issue areas that touch on data, technology, design and humanitarian action. Data responsibility in humanitarian response is one such area. In recent years we have seen the development of principles, policies, and strategies for the responsible management of data in humanitarian action but gaps remain between global frameworks and their practical application in field operations. Making guidance accessible to field staff is essential to integrating data responsibility into their daily work. The Centre requires a Strategic Communication Fellow to help meet this need. 


Each Fellow is responsible for designing a project based on a problem area identified by the Centre. Fellows will conduct desk and user research before developing a project related to their focus area. The Fellows will be expected to communicate publicly about their work and to share key insights and recommendations for taking the work forward. The Fellows will need to maintain active and clear communications with relevant members of the Centre team and other collaborators throughout the programme. The Fellows will also participate in joint learning activities throughout the Programme, including a seminar series on ‘Understanding the Humanitarian World’ and an interactive bootcamp on ‘Designing for Impact’ to support them in delivering their projects.


If you have questions about the Data Fellows Programme, send an email to

Watch this video for more information on the Programme. Learn more about the previous classes of Fellows here.