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2004 ETH: Evaluation of the response to the 2002-03 emergency in Ehtiopia



Executive summary

Background:
This evaluation of the national and international response to the 2003 drought emergency in Ethiopia was undertaken at the request of the Commissioner of Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC), the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa and the UN Strategic Disaster Management Team (SDMT). DPPC and SDMT appointed focal points in each participating agency to provide technical support.

Purpose/Objective:
Given that the 2002-03 Ethiopian crisis was unprecedented in scope and magnitude, an evaluation of the overall response will provide the Government of Ethiopia (GOE) at the federal and regional levels, UN Agencies, NGOs, donors and beneficiaries an opportunity to understand the complexity and root causes of this crisis so as to mitigate future crises in Ethiopia, and to review why particular activities were more successful than others, in order to improve future humanitarian performance.

The objectives of the evaluation were to:

1) Assess the appropriateness of the Government and international community response (including that of UN, donors and NGOs) to the humanitarian crisis in 2002-03. This will include an assessment of the timeliness and adequacy of food and non-food assistance response as well as gaps and the degree to which objectives identified in the Joint Government-UN Appeal and relevant updates in response to the crisis were achieved.
2) Measure the effectiveness of coordination, preparedness and response mechanisms in place at all levels to deal with the crisis and provide specific recommendations to improve these systems.
3) Draw lessons learned from the emergency and response that can be applied to future emergencies faced by the country, and highlight good innovative practices. Also specifically consider the possible implications on future response of the new initiatives planned and being implemented within the Coalition for Food and Livelihood Security, which address chronic food insecurity.

Methodology:
The report is based on existing agency documentation and evaluations, supplemented by discussions with Government officials, humanitarian agencies and farmer associations in the affected regions and the capital. The lessons learned were analysed in workshops with the inter-ministerial task forces. The report was reviewed and endorsed by the Steering Committee.

Findings and Conclusions:
In terms of the numbers of people who received humanitarian assistance, and the amounts of both food and non-food relief donated by the international and national community, this was the largest internationally-supported emergency operation ever undertaken in Ethiopia. Over 1.5 million tons of donated food aid were shipped to the port of Djibouti and transported inland by private truckers to hub destinations in six regions. Mass migration to relief camps was prevented by food aid distributions from over 1,200 centres managed by the Disaster Prevention and Preparedness Commission (DPPC) and NGOs. This was not an unprecedented drought, yet more than 13 million people were in need of urgent humanitarian assistance and received food rations, albeit initially at reduced amounts. Famine was prevented. Over 21 million children received vitamin A and vaccinations against measles. Forty six therapeutic feeding centres provided emergency assistance to 20,000 children. Improved water and sanitation facilities benefited 1.8 million people and 800,000 households received seeds.

Effective early warning systems (EWS) coordinated by the DPPC, with information from regional, zonal and wereda (district) sources, provided crucial information for famine prevention measures to be put in place. Relief assessment and distribution systems existed for effective coordination in the traditionally food insecure regions. During the crisis, inter-ministerial task forces in Food/Logistics, Health and Nutrition, Water and Agriculture/Livestock were established at the federal level and in some regions. There was an exceptionally high degree of teamwork, personal commitment and institutional support amongst donor representations, DPPC/Bs and humanitarian agencies resident in Ethiopia. Crucial to the operational successes were the vastly improved logistics and private trucking capacities for port off-take and delivery to final destinations, and the efficient management of the Emergency Food Security Reserve Administration (EFSRA) in releasing timely loans of grain against donor pledges for repayment when shipments arrived.

The success of the response was also attributed by the evaluation team to several factors: the high degree of donor confidence and support for the DPPC established through direct donor involvement in all stages of the assessment and Appeal preparation; the operational transparency of efficient distribution systems; and the fortuitous availability of large-scale food resources/shipments from the USA.

Recommendations:
Nevertheless, the success of the 2003 emergency operation leaves no room for complacency. There were shortcomings in assessments, targeting and in the management capacities of some regions with less experience of famine relief. Disaster preparedness is still not fully internalised by Government line ministries and internationally-supported development assistance programmes. The decentralised local Government capacities at all levels have suffered from a period of high turnover of trained staff. The emergency was not seen as an overriding priority by some local authorities. Women are still marginalized in community decision-making and targeting committees. Vulnerable women and children were the main victims of the crisis. The international community, while eventually recognising the increasing gravity of the crisis, was slow to react with expeditious food aid shipments. The uncertain resource situation in the first half of 2003 prevented DPPC from distributing full cereal rations from the outset, while a nutritionally balanced food-basket, including pulses, vegetable oil and blended food, only became widely available in the second half of the year.

Moreover, the “Food First” culture, which has come to dominate emergency assessments and recent appeals, eclipsed the equally important non-food needs. Donor pledging was critically slow in meeting essential non-food requirements for medicines, veterinary drugs, seeds and water and sanitation needs. Heavy livestock losses occurred in Afar and eastern Amhara regions because of drought-induced problems. The crisis caused widespread collapse in livelihoods for communities that had still not recovered from a succession of previous calamities. Although famine was prevented by large-scale food aid distributions in traditionally food-insecure areas, the humanitarian community, as a whole, were caught off guard by the sudden collapse of livelihoods and nutritional status in Southern Nations Nationalities and Peoples Region (SNNPR) and also in some of the traditionally food-sufficient areas of Arsi and Bale.

The report emphasises that certain institutional arrangements should be strengthened: to maintain the inter-ministerial sector task forces established during this emergency; to create an institutional home for nutrition; and to improve methodologies for assessing and monitoring non-food requirements. While the measures being taken under the Coalition for Food and Livelihood Security (CFS) and multi-annual food aid Productive Safety Nets for chronically food-insecure weredas are welcomed in the report, concern is expressed about the risks of dismantling the existing DPPC federal and regional response capacities. The DPPC’s early warning and well-tried emergency coordination capacities must be maintained at the zone level while the new institutional capacity building is being established at the wereda levels. The report notes the crucial and often innovative roles played by NGOs in the management of both food and non-food resources during the emergency, but stresses that NGO roles for emergency preparedness and medium-term recovery programmes could receive greater encouragement from donors and the Government. Similarly, the report acknowledges the importance of the UN humanitarian and development agencies in underpinning the relief operations and urges that UN agency decentralised capacity-building programmes should, in future, be focused at regional Government levels.

Finally, the report lists some of the root causes for the collapse of household food security facing many millions of rural Ethiopians. These somewhat controversial issues were fully and openly recognised in the task force working groups and confirmed in the evaluation team’s discussions with kebeles and local officials during the regional visits. Human and animal pressures on degraded arable land and overgrazed pastures, widespread deforestation, the current annual human population increase of two million, gender inequalities, the HIV/AIDS pandemic and the migration of subsistence farmers in search of alterative urban livelihoods, are all pressing challenges for long-term food security. In order to reduce the risks of future famines, the report supports the urgent implementation of existing Government policies on family planning, guaranteed land-tenure certification, soil and water conservation, facilitating and attracting external investment, urban development and the creation of off-farm employment opportunities.


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Report information

Date:
2004

Region:
ESARO

Country:
Ethiopia

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Emergency

Partners:

PIDB:

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
2004/009

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