Daniel Maxwell

  • Henry J. Leir Professor in Food Security
  • Program Director, Master of Arts in Humanitarian Assistance (MAHA) at The Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and the Fletcher School of International Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University
  • Research Director at the Feinstein International Center, at The Friedman School

Daniel Maxwell is the Henry J. Leir Professor in Food Security and Research Director at the Feinstein International Center, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University. He leads the research program on food security and livelihoods in complex emergencies. In 2016-2017, he served as the Acting Director of the Feinstein Center. His recent research focuses on the re-emergence of famines in the 21st century and the politics of analyzing and declaring famine, as well as food security and resilience programming and measurement, and livelihood systems under stress.

Prior to joining the faculty at Tufts, Dan worked in East and West Africa for two decades in humanitarian agencies and research institutes in Uganda, Ghana and Kenya. His most recent position prior to joining the faculty at Tufts was Deputy Director for Eastern and Central Africa for CARE International.

He is the author, with Nisar Majid, of Famine in Somalia: Competing Imperatives, Collective Failures (Oxford University Press, 2016). He is the co-author, with Chris Barrett of Cornell University, of Food Aid After Fifty Years: Recasting Its Role (Routledge, 2005), and co-author with Peter Walker, of Shaping the Humanitarian World (Routledge, 2009). He teaches humanitarian action, humanitarian policy, and food insecurity in situations of crisis and chronic vulnerability. 

Watch His Address at the 2016 World Health Summit


  • Ph.D., 1995, Development Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
  • M.Sc., 1986, Adult Education and International Agriculture, Cornell University
  • B.Sc., 1977, Agricultural Sciences, Wilmington College

Research Activities

Research Grants: 2006–2019

  1. Declaring Famine! The Politics of Information and Analysis. SDC, ECHO, FAO, OFDA, DFID (PI). 2017-2019.
  2. Synthesis of Feinstein Center Work on Livelihoods and Resilience. USAID (PI). 2017-2018.
  3. The Role of Sulfur Amino Acids in Risk of Kwashiorkor. OFDA, various (PI). 2015-2017.
  4. Planning from the Future in Humanitarian Action. DANIDA/ Swedish MOFA (PI). 2014-2016. Review of the humanitarian “landscape” through multiple case studies, and recommendations for the World Humanitarian Summit
  5. Measuring Resilience in Somalia. SomRep (PI). 2014-2016. Collaboration with an NGO consortium in Somalia to measure resilience
  6. Lessons Learned from the Somalia Famine. Gates Foundation, USAID/OFDA (PI). 2013-2016.  Retrospective analysis of the causes, impacts and lessons learned from the Somalia famine of 2011-2012.
  7. Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium. DFID/UKAID (PI). 2012–2017.  Longitudinal study of livelihood recovery and service provision in fragile and conflict-affected countries
  8. Integrated Famine Response. UNICEF–Somalia (PI).  2011–2012.  Technical assistance to UNICEF during the Somalia famine
  9. Food Security Response Analysis CIDA (PI).  2011–2012.  Concurrent analysis of the ways in which agencies determine how to respond to food security crises, given a new range of options
  10. Livelihoods Change over Time (II) SIDA (PI). 2011–2013.  Longitudinal study of livelihoods and change in Tigray
  11. Assessment Capacity Support (ACAPS) Assessment Capacity Project (Co-PI). 2010–2012.  Study of the use of evidence in humanitarian response
  12. Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security International Research Institute  (Co-PI).2010–2011.  Review of climate change and humanitarian action. Was intended to lead to further collaboration but did not
  13. Disaster Risk Reduction  USAID (Co-PI). 2009–2013. Study of disaster risk reduction activities in three countries
  14. Livelihoods Change over Time (I) World Vision (PI). 2008–2010.  Qualitative and participatory study of livelihoods in Tigray
  15. Targeting in Complex Emergencies World Food Programme (PI).  2007–2009. Commissioned study for WFP on targeting practices in conflict situations
  16. Corruption in Humanitarian Assistance Transparency International (PI).  2007–2009.  Commissioned study for TI on corruption in humanitarian response
  17. Review of South Sudan Program WFP (PI). 2006–2007. Commissioned study for WFP on its South Sudan program