Author: Silvia Hidalgo, with support from Marie Pascale Théodate
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This report summarises the second phase of the Inter-Agency Real-Time Evaluation (IA-RTE) of the response to the earthquake in Haiti, twenty months after the disaster. OCHA managed the evaluation, with UNICEF serving on its Evaluation Management Group. Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, with 72 per cent of the population living on less than two US dollars a day, and a high level of income inequality. On January 12th 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake struck the country, devastating the capital, Port-au-Prince, and various areas in the West and South-East Departments. An estimated 230,000 people lost their lives; 300,000 more were injured and over 1 million people were left homeless. In response, the international community mounted a massive humanitarian relief effort and 55 donors pledged a total of $4.59 billion in grants for 2010 and 2011 towards the rebuilding of the country.
Purpose / Objective:
In view of the magnitude of the disaster and the subsequent response, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) launched a multi-phased IA-RTE for the country to assess the disaster response, inform decision makers, draw lessons and allow corrections to be made in real time. A separate first-phase IA-RTE had taken place three months after the earthquake and evaluated coordination issues in the immediate response. The present phase sought to: (a) assess and provide lessons for the ongoing response, with a particular focus on coordination between different actors involved, (b) examine options for linking humanitarian response structures with longer-term and/or government established mechanisms, and (c) analyze the extent to which the findings and recommendations from the first phase of the IA-RTE have informed the evolving humanitarian response in Haiti.
The evaluation team carried out the evaluation between August and October 2011, starting with an initial three-week country mission. The field work was followed by debriefings and meetings in Haiti and New York. A workshop on the preliminary findings of the evaluation was held in Port-au-Prince in advance of the Common Appeal Process (CAP) 2012 workshop. Interviews were conducted with more than 250 individuals from Haitian institutions and international agencies as well as with individuals and groups from the affected communities. A debriefing for IASC members was held in New York and Geneva.
Findings and Conclusions:
The evaluation found that the key achievements of the response have been: mainstreaming of disaster preparedness; an effective response in camps, with populations largely free of cholera; recent progress on the rate of rubble removal; implementation of integrated neighborhood-based approaches; and progress in improving water and sanitation in the longer term. The main shortcomings include: durable solutions; livelihoods; accommodation; communication; and provision of continued support to address remaining needs. The evaluation has also identified many areas where data collection, needs analysis, consultation and communication, inter-agency action, and action with government need to be strengthened so that gains made are not lost as agencies phase out. The response in Haiti has been more expensive than in other recent emergencies (e.g., Pakistan, Sri Lanka) – and has far exceeded initial estimates, with projects reported as exceeding projected costs by 2.5 to 3 times. Transition is on the agenda but needs a vision, a strategy, a plan, and leadership. There is a need for defining and understanding new roles and clarifying responsibilities in the move towards transition and development.
The following overarching recommendations (accompanied by a series of sub-recommendations not listed here) are intended to offer insights into how continuing and urgent humanitarian needs can be met as this transformation takes place.
1. Further engage with the new government and Haitian society to clarify and understand new priorities, objectives and strategies and better adapt the response and collective action.
2. Reform and rationalize coordination to foster integration, advance humanitarian concerns and connect humanitarian action with other phases or “categories” (i.e., recovery, reconstruction and development) and stakeholders in the framework of an overall response;
3. Rationalize and transition the cluster system in Haiti;
4. Consider funding, costs and efficiencies; and
5. Support capacity-strengthening and retain capacity in priorities areas.
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