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    We host the annual Oxford Human Rights Festival 12th - 17th March 2018.
    This year's theme is IDENTITY and we look at what makes us who we are.

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  • Centre for Development and Emergency Practice

    Founded in 1985, the Centre for Development and Emergency Practice (CENDEP) is a multidisciplinary centre that brings together academics, development practitioners and policy makers. The work that CENDEP does looks at disaster risk reduction and response; shelter, housing and home; human rights; forced migration; conflict, peace and humanitarianism; and, transformative and community resilience in adverse settings.

  • Postgraduate taught masters

    We offer three postgraduate courses that are developed from our research and grounded in field-based practice. Our unique position between academia, policy and practice, make our graduates are sought after within the humanitarian and development sector.

     MA / PGDip / PGCert Development and Emergency Practice

    Development and Emergency Practice

    MA / PGDip / PGCert

    The award-winning master’s provides a unique academic setting for the study of poverty, development and humanitarian work, conflict and disaster management. With its core emphasis on practice, the programme offers students the opportunity to develop knowledge, skills and attitudes in the rapidly changing field of development and emergencies. The programme attracts students from all backgrounds, from experienced practitioners to those new to development.

    Course structure and application »

    BA Architecture (Hons)

    Humanitarian Action and Peacebuilding

    MA / PGDip / PGCert

    The course has been built utilising the knowledge and expertise of CENDEP and UNITAR. It is an online course designed for practitioners working in the fields of humanitarian action and peacebuilding. It is also open to students who are in related fields who are seeking to develop a more holistic understanding of critical issues related to humanitarian action and peacebuilding.

    Course structure and application »

    Shelter after disaster A. Pacciani

    Shelter after Disaster


    The quantity and severity of natural disasters are increasing as our planet struggles with climate change, population growth and conflict. The need for effective ‘shelter after disaster’ – the provision of houses and homes for those affected – has never been greater. This programme is designed to develop reflective practitioners who will have an understanding of the practical and strategic issues of development and emergency practice, as well as an appreciation of the social and political context.

    Course structure and application »

    To learn more about CENDEP courses, explore our recent dissertations.

  • Research areas

  • CENDEP conducts research on humanitarian practice in conflict areas. The research concerns the role of humanitarian practitioners, the changing landscape of conflict and its meaning for humanitarian practice and the experiences, adaptations and strategies of civilians in conflict settings. We are particularly concerned with the role played by culture in conflict. We explore how conflict changes cultural settings and expressions of affected people; how a culture of crises and of conflict may lead to changes of behaviours, values and perceptions for affected populations; the heritage of conflict that needs to be understood and monitored in post-conflict projects of reconstruction. Since 2010, we have created an observatory of symbolic violence aiming at understanding better ‘soft form of violence’ and its impacts on culture, identity of affected communities. With the main aims of protection, advocacy and capacity building, the observatory by way of action research aims at identifying the mechanisms of symbolic violence, its impacts and ways for the population to adapt to it and to reduce it. Action research projects are currently taking place in the West Bank through the ‘Building Sumud project’ and in Colombia targeting particularly ethnic minorities groups and internally displaced populations. Investigations are also conducted in Ukraine and Liberia. Research on the dilemmas between relief and development in protracted humanitarian contexts is also a main area of research. The research area collaborates closely with all areas of research in CENDEP, and particularly on forced migration and shelter.

    The relationship between law and practice is a key area of research for CENDEP where we contribute to the understanding of how policies and institutions operate in the protection of human rights. For example, we are conducting research on the effectiveness of torture prevention and the mechanisms for protecting against torture in different national contexts and globally. Socio-legal studies of the impact of law, and in particular the role of national human rights institutions, as well as a broader focus on human rights are major contributions. The relationship between human rights and forced migration, and more broadly the impact of forced migration on policies and institutional practices are important areas of research. In close collaboration with other research areas of CENDEP, we conduct research on protracted situations of conflict-induced displacement, the changing relationships between people and places as a result of forced migration, the role of shelter and housing for forced migrants (including property restitution), and the unintended consequences of humanitarian assistance in forced migration settings.

    Geographical areas:

    Globally (comparative studies), South-eastern Europe, South Asia, South-Caucasus, UK, Southern Africa

    The aim of CENDEP shelter research is to improve quality and effectiveness of reconstruction after the devastation and trauma of natural disaster and conflict. Shelter and settlements have wide impact and influence health, livelihoods, safety, environment, protection, education, water and sanitation, cultural identity and community. It reaches vulnerable groups: children, old people and the disabled, influences psychosocial issues and is critical in disaster risk reduction and resilience. Strategies for dealing with shelter in emergency settings can be controversial. Questions arise such as: how to balance immediate needs vs. planning for longer-term? Are construction materials appropriate to local knowledge and skills? Should local communities design and manage housing? Do traditional shelters contribute to people’s well-being and sense of community? What role can innovative technologies play? CENDEP works in collaboration with operational agencies to identify research projects on the impact of shelter, analyses and disseminate findings amongst the shelter community of practice.

    Within the field of disasters, risk and development, our work explores social aspects of emergencies, disaster and development. The research is particularly concerned with how social factors influence relative vulnerability and resilience experienced by individuals and households at risk or affected by emergencies. It studies how social identities and characteristics of persons, namely gender, age, disability, race and ethnicity and their intersectionality contribute to this experience. The research takes the standpoint that vulnerability and resilience are neither fixed nor exclusive, and we explore conditions under which they change. Livelihood systems, coping, adaptation strategies including migration are studied in these contexts. We analyse the institutional frameworks as well as social, economic, cultural and political context within which social change takes place and its implications for social policies for vulnerability reduction and pro-poor development such as social protection and entitlements. The work of CENDEP UK, namely the Small Change Forum, explores development issues, including poverty, identity and social urban development, within the United Kingdom. Using the Small Change Approach, as developed by CENDEP's Emeritus Professor Nabeel Hamdi, our research investigates, through theory and practice, ways in which participatory arts techniques can act as catalysts for positive change in communities. CENDEP conducts research at the interface between academic research and practical work and we collaborate with a number of civil society organizations and practitioners in this research area. Methodologically we conduct surveys, but the main part of our work is qualitative, using case studies, participatory, action research methods and more ethnographic approaches including comparative work. The research area is closely connected with other research areas of CENDEP.

    Geographical areas:

    South Asia, South East Asia, Africa, Europe, and the United Kingdom

  • Recent activities

    Oxford Human Rights Festival

    We host the annual Oxford Human Rights Festival in March which highlights some of our work. Do take the opportunity to visit us or attend one of our events. We look forward to welcoming you very soon.

    About the event »
    Human Rights Festival logo

    CENDEP Newsletter

    Research activities are an important part of our day to day activities and as the newsletter shows, CENDEP staff are active in all our four strategic research areas.

    Read the newsletter »
    CENDEP Newsletter

    Recent publications

    • Akerkar S, Fordham M, 'Gender, place and mental health recovery in disasters: addressing issues of equality and difference' International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction 23 (2017) ISSN: 2212-4209 eISSN: 2212-4209
    • Akerkar S, Joshi, PC, Fordham M, 'Cultures of Entitlement and Social Protection: Evidence from Flood Prone Bahraich, Uttar Pradesh, India' World Development 86 (2016) pp.46-58 ISSN: 0305-750X eISSN: 0305-750X
    • Brun, C. (2016) Dwelling in the temporary: the involuntary mobility of displaced Georgians in rented accommodation. Cultural Studies 30(2) Special issue on (Im)mobilities of Dwelling, edited by L. Meier and S. Frank.
    • Davis, I. and Alexander, D. (2016) ‘Recovery from Disaster’, Routledge Studies in Hazards, Disaster Risk and Climate Change. Routledge: Abingdon.
    • Azmi, F., C. Brun and R. Lund. 2016. Young people’s recovery in Eastern Sri Lanka: From war to postwar and beyond. In Geographies of Children and Young People, Vol 11 Conflicts, Violence and Peace, edited by K. Hörschelman and C. Harker. Springer.
    • Akerkar S, 'Development of a normative framework for disaster relief: learning from colonial histories in India' Disasters 39 (S2) (2015) pp.219-243 ISSN: 0361-3666 eISSN: 0361-3666
    • Akerkar A, Devavaram J, 'Understanding Rights Based Approach in Disasters: A case for affirming human dignity' in Collins A, Jones S, Manyena B, Jayawickrama J (ed.), Hazard, Risks and Disasters in Society, Elsevier (2015) ISBN: 978-0-12-396451-9
    • Ayers, J. Carnegie, R. Sergio Marques da Conceicao, L. Dolan, M. Helm Grovas, S. Jones, R. Keely, R. Piquard, B. Stockdale, M. and Savage, E. (2015) Existence is Resistance: Building resilience in the South Hebron Hills Oxford Brookes University
    • Alvarez, R. Akerkar, S. and Banks, T. (2015) Resilience and Recovery after Typhoon Haiyan Oxford Brookes University
    • Burnell, J. and Phillips, R. (2015) The "New" Local. In: Phillips, R. and Pittman, H. eds. An Introduction to Community Development, Second Edition. New York and Abingdon: Routledge.
    • Davis, I. (lead ed.) (2015) Shelter after Disaster (2nd edition). Published with the support of IFRC. IFRC and OCHA, 2015 (online) Accessed: 21.06.2016.
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Exploring coordination in humanitarian clusters’ (with Leah Campbell) ALNAP / ODI 2015
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Briefing papers on humanitarian effectiveness 1-7 (with Alice Obrecht) ALNAP / ODI 2015
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Insufficient evidence? The quality and use of evidence in humanitarian action’ (with James Darcy) ALNAP / ODI 2014
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Between chaos and control: rethinking operational leadership’; ALNAP / ODI 2014
    • Paul Knox-Clarke Meeting the Urban Challenge: adapting humanitarian efforts to an urban world (with Ben Ramalingam) Alnap / ODI 2012
    • Fordham M, Gupta S with Akerkar, S and Scharf M (2011) Leading resilient development: grassroots women's priorities, practices and innovations, published by Groots International and UNDP; see
    • Paul Knox-Clarke ‘Change in humanitarian organisations’ in ALNAP Review of Humanitarian Action 2008, ALNAP / ODI
    • Akerkar Supriya (2007) Disaster Mitigation and furthering women's rights: Learning from the Tsunami; in Gender, Technology and Development; 11; see
    • Akerkar Supriya (2005) Rights, development and democracy: a perspective from India, in Reinventing Development: Translating Rights-Based Approaches from Theory into Practice, Ed Gready, Paul, Ensor Jonathan, ZED publications, UK and USA
    • Thomson K, Sundaray S, Akerkar S, Daniel U (2005) Bolangir to Hyderabad and the politics of poverty (co-authored) et al published by Action Aid International
    • Akerkar S (2001) Gender and participation, publication by Bridge, Institute of Development Studies, Sussex, UK. see
    • Research contributions to the Fifth Citizen's Report on the State of India's Environment, 1999 Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi
    • Akerkar Supriya (1997) "Feminist voices" in Journal Seminar, New Delhi, Pg34-37
    • Akerkar Supriya (1997) Women, ecology and development, in Women's Link, Volume 46, No3, published by Social Action Trust, New Delhi
    • Akerkar Supriya (1995) "Theory and practice of women's movement in India : A discourse analysis", Working Paper Series No 193, Published by Institute of Social Studies , Hague, Netherlands, April 1995. The Paper is also published in Economic and Political Weekly, Vol XXX, No 17, Pg WS 2-WS-23, April 1995. This can be downloaded from