Recent Projects

Town & Country Top 50 Philanthropists 2017

Courtenay was named as one of Town & Country’s Top 50 Philanthropists in their June 2017 issue, and was invited to speak at their Philanthropy Summit in NYC.

“Grand Plan: Convince world powers that investment in avoiding humanitarian crises is not only humane, its good business.

Making Headlines: The economist is the secret weapon of groups like the UN and Oxfam seeking funds (or avoiding cuts) to address conflicts and disasters.”

The Economics of Resilience to Drought in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia

Client: USAID
Year: 2018
Countries: Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia

Humanitarian aid is critical for saving lives, alleviating suffering, and maintaining human dignity. However, aid often arrives late, and there is increasing recognition that this type of response is costly and unsustainable. Responding earlier saves lives, livelihoods and money. Investing in people’s resilience – their ability to manage shocks and stresses without compromising their future well-being – is also critical for reducing these humanitarian costs.

The study finds that donors could save 30% on humanitarian aid spending through an earlier and more proactive response; this is equivalent to savings of US$1.6 billion when applied to U.S. Government spending over the last 15 years in these three countries alone. A more proactive response that can help to protect people’s income and assets is even more cost effective and can help households to manage the effects of shocks. When these benefits are incorporated, the overall savings increase to US$4.2 billion. Put another way, every US$1 invested in building people’s resilience will result in up to US$3 in reduced humanitarian aid and avoided losses.

Value for Money of Cash Transfers in Emergency Contexts

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Client: UK Department for International Development (DFID)
Year: 2014
Countries: Ethiopia, Philippines, Lebanon

DFID commissioned this study to examine the value for money of different transfer modalities in humanitarian emergencies, specifically comparing cash, vouchers and in-kind humanitarian assistance. The study fed into the high level expert panel on cash, and is supported by three country case studies, Ethiopia, the Philippines, and Lebanon.

For more information, please visit

The benefits of a child-centred approach to climate change adaptation


Client: UNICEF and Plan International
Year: 2011
Countries: Global

This paper investigates the economic argument for investing in child centred approaches to climate change adaptation, to augment the social and moral arguments, given the significantly low funding that has been targeted at this sector to date.

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Partnerships for Change: A Cost Benefit Analysis of Self Help Groups in Ethiopia


Client: Tearfund
Year: 2012
Countries: Ethiopia

Courtenay provided training and support to Tearfund country staff to conduct a cost benefit analysis of their Self Help Group programme, which has been running for over ten years. The programme helps to facilitate community groups to save, and provide informal insurance and safety nets through community mobilization. The Cost Benefit analysis indicated that the programme is delivering returns of between $58 and $173 for every $1 invested.

For more information, please visit: www.tearfund

Quantitative Impact Assessment of Community Resilience (CoBRA)


Client: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
Year: 2012
Countries: Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda


UNDP commissioned this study to develop a quantitative impact assessment methodology for measuring community resilience to crisis in the Horn of Africa. In addition to developing the conceptual framework and methodology, the approach was field tested in the three countries, to develop a tool – the Community Based Resilience Analysis (CoBRA) that can be used more widely to measure resilience, and the impact of interventions on resilience, at a community or household level.

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The Economics of Early Response and Resilience

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Client: DFID
Year: 2013
Countries: Kenya, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Niger and Bangladesh

Courtenay led a team of experts to examine the economics of early humanitarian response and resilience in five countries. The study findings indicate that early humanitarian response is far more cost effective than late humanitarian response. Further, economic concerns over false early response are unwarranted. Country studies found that, for every early response to a correctly forecast crisis, early responses could be made 2-6 times to crises that do not materialise, before the cost of a single late response is met. Investing in longer-term interventions that support resilience should be prioritized, alongside ongoing early response to humanitarian need. Benefit to cost ratios varied between 2.3:1 and 13.2:1, depending on the country.

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Value for Money of Multi-Year Humanitarian Assistance
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Client: DFID
Year: 2014-2017
Countries: Sudan, DRC, Ethiopia, Pakistan

This four-year DFID assignment in four countries assesses the ability of multi-year humanitarian financing to deliver higher value for money for humanitarian outcomes, as well contribute to wider resilience building over the longer term.