Determining the Impact of Humanitarian Mine Action: Questioning Responsibilities to Knowledge

  • Sian Mullen

Student thesis: Phd


It is now widely accepted that humanitarian work does not by its very nature necessarily suggest good work. Being able to evidence and understand the impact your intervention has is vital to ensuring aid is beneficial and to eliminate possible negative consequences. Despite this, the literature remains generally scathing towards the humanitarian sector - including the mine action sector - and its ability to measure the impact it has. Understanding the impact of humanitarian mine action is vital as the clearance of landmines affects - both positively and negatively - people's safety, their livelihoods, and their access and rights to land.This thesis therefore explores approaches to impact assessment within mine action and questions the way in which mine action organisations collect and use impact data. By bringing together three areas of literature this thesis argues that, impact knowledge is susceptible to influence by power, that different approaches to impact assessment can minimise or maximise the level of influence, and, through a focus on land issues, that understanding local context and an interventions potential negative impact is essential to knowledge responsible practice.Empirically, this thesis undertook extensive fieldwork in the form of a case study in Cambodia through the use of semi-structured interviews, observations, and participatory research techniques. This thesis found that despite an on-going participatory rhetoric, the sector predominantly excludes local voices from impact monitoring processes particularly at the planning and utilisation stages; that the use of technocratic approaches to measuring impact prevent a nuanced understanding of the true impact; that aside from upward reporting there is a lack of data utilisation in terms of learning and change; and that the sector could potentially increase land tenure security for local populations were they to extend their mandates to support this.
Date of Award1 Aug 2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorHugh Macginty (Supervisor) & Rony Brauman (Supervisor)


  • Monitoring and Evaluation
  • Impact
  • Impact assessment
  • Landmines
  • Participation
  • Mine action
  • Humanitarian effectiveness
  • Cambodia

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