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Evaluation report

2012 Global: IASC Real-Time Evaluation of the Humanitarian Response to the Horn of Africa Drought Crisis - Kenya

Author: Jeff Duncalf, Langdon Greenhalgh, Marco Marroni, Hadijah Mohammed, Bernard Maina

Executive summary

“With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is “Outstanding, Best Practice”, “Highly Satisfactory”, “Mostly Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labeled as ‘Part 2’ of the report.”


For most of 2011 the pastoralist and marginal cropping communities of Kenya endured a severe food crisis. Over 3.75 million Kenyans and 598,218 refugees were severely affected and in need of humanitarian assistance. As the emergency met the “automatic trigger” criteria endorsed by IASC Working Group in July 2011, the Emergency Relief Coordinator requested an IASC Real Time Evaluation (IASC RTE) in Kenya.


The purpose of this evaluation is to provide rapid real-time feedback to the Humanitarian Country Team, addressing issues requiring immediate action, lesson learning for the future, and to seek out the views of affected communities.


The Kenya IASC RTE is a rapid, light, and participatory evaluation that was conducted between November 2011 and January 2012. It comprised a desk review, field visits to affected communities, three workshops, an outcome summary of workshops and a final report. The desk review included a thorough analysis of situation reports, briefings, appeals, policies, other third party analysis, and evaluations concerning the Horn of Africa Drought crisis in Kenya and beyond. The field visit included interviews with more than 180 key stakeholders and beneficiaries, concluding with three workshops conducted in three different locations (Nairobi, Dadaab, and Turkana). Two different humanitarian contexts were specifically considered: the drought affected communities (such as Turkana) and the refugee assisted populations (such as Dadaab). The field visits, community feedback, and workshops, built upon the desk review, and served as the basis for the final report. In the final report, findings and trends observed during the field visits and discussed in the workshops were reconciled with the data analysed in the desk review to produce the findings and recommendations. Complementary to the recommendations, Frameworks for Future Action were developed with the IA community, during the workshops in Nairobi and Dadaab, to guide future efforts aimed at improving the quality of the response.

Findings and Conclusions:

The findings of this evaluation are based on data collected at the field level and through the secondary data review. They are presented according to the issues identified in the evaluation’s Terms of Reference and can be summarized as follows:

1) The humanitarian crisis in Kenya is complex and multi-layered, exacerbated, particularly in the past several months, by a very challenging security environment. The immediate crisis has abated somewhat due to the humanitarian response and improved rains. However, the IA humanitarian community in Kenya will likely struggle with the same challenges again unless it takes proactive steps to address ongoing issues and better manage the appropriate scaling up and down of humanitarian response operations.

2) The IA humanitarian community and Government of Kenya were reactive to the emerging and predicted crisis without taking the proactive and preventative measures that may have alleviated the negative effects of the crisis. However, once the decision was made to respond there was an impressive and effective collective response to the situation. Systemic challenges remain along with the need for better results in IA community wide strategic planning (and donor funding of those plans) in order to break the cycle of chronic vulnerability to droughts and other regularly occurring crises in Kenya.

3) Coordination mechanisms for humanitarian response exist and are utilized in Kenya particularly through GoK mechanisms and IA sector coordination. However, these coordination mechanisms usually are more for information exchange purposes and they do not necessarily guide effective decision-making. Furthermore, effective coordination is hampered by a lack of staff coordination skills, a disconnect between Nairobi and field based operations, and a lack of inclusion of faith based and local community based organisations.

4) The response, once mobilized, met many outstanding needs. The nutrition sector in particular is an excellent example of a key sector providing coordination and service delivery leadership that other sectors could emulate. There is a strong impetus in the IA community to significantly increase disaster mitigation programming, particularly through more scalable DRR programming and market base interventions, that will more effectively strengthen the coping capacities of those in the most vulnerable communities. This shift is both appropriate and needed.


Based on these findings, the RTE has five recommendations that, if followed, would enable a more effective IA coordinated response now and in the future.

R1: Match Early Warning with Early Action.

R2: Coordinated IA community analysis and scenario planning needs to guide transparent decision making.

R3: Invest in scalable disaster risk reduction and transition now from response to DRR.

R4: Empower the Government of Kenya as the lead, while also supporting them with the real-time resourcing to take on this role.

R5: Revise the Inter-Agency Strategic Planning process.

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