Responsible exit of humanitarian aid agencies at the end of programmes: a scoping review protocol

Bahati Djoki, Houssynatou Sy, Aram Kalhor, Bruno Marchal

Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

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Introduction: In humanitarian settings, aid agencies are constantly challenged by difficult decisions such as when and how to terminate aid without harming the aid recipients, local institutions, staff members and the organisation. Despite important efforts devoted to responsibly leaving a setting, hurtful exits are still common in contemporary relief aid. Moreover, debates on how humanitarian aid agencies exit are limited, with no previous comprehensive evidence synthesis on the concept of ‘responsible exit’. The objective of this scoping review is to map evidence and knowledge gaps, to identify and describe concepts, theories and existing frameworks related to ‘responsible exit’ of humanitarian aid agencies.

Methods and analysis: Our search uses searches of several bibliographic databases (CAB Direct (including Global Health), Web of Science, PubMed and Google Scholar) as well as manual searches of specific journals and retrieval of grey literature through searches of organisational websites and direct contact with experts and organisations. Reference tracking will be used to identify additional sources. Searches will cover papers available up to the dates of the searches (December 2022 to January 2023), with no date restrictions applied to the literature search. To be included, published or unpublished papers must explicitly discuss the exit of humanitarian aid agencies from humanitarian settings and be accessible. We will exclude all exits related to military, local and governmental humanitarian operations, education, development, employment, and business sectors. Only papers written in English and French will be considered. Three reviewers will conduct the selection process against the predefined criteria. Data will be extracted in an iterative process following pre-established items and the results will be presented in a Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews Extension for Scoping Reviews flow chart, tables and/or graphs, and descriptive formats.

Ethics and dissemination: Being a review, conducted on publicly available information, no ethical approval is required. The results will be disseminated through publication in an open access journal, scientific conferences, workshops, and via humanitarian aid agencies to facilitate further research and possible practical translations of generated knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere071544
JournalBMJ Open
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • B680-public-health
  • Humanitarian action
  • Scoping Review
  • Exit strategy


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