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Evaluation report

2012 Global: Synthesis Report of the IA RTEs of the Response to the Horn of Africa Drought

Author: Hugo Slim

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.”


This synthesis report was prepared by Dr. Hugo Slim, Senior Research Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Ethics, Law and Armed Conflict. The objective of this synthesis report was to summarize and combine key findings and recommendations from the more detailed Inter-Agency Real-Time Evaluations conducted in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya, as well as the report of the regional response to the Horn of Africa drought crisis.


The RTE’s main purpose was to provide immediate feedback to country teams, and to deliver quick lessons learned from the Horn of Africa drought crisis. Much of this has been done already in the RTE country workshops and the detailed country and regional reports.

The RTE’s main objectives were to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of the humanitarian system in four key areas: 
1) Early warning and needs assessment
2) Strategy, operational planning and resource mobilization
3) Coordination and connectedness
4) Response against needs and standards

These four focus areas were used to target feedback on the system’s success in delivering the timely provision of relief and the transition to recovery, and to assess the main outcomes for the affected people.


The findings below are drawn from a “light footprint” RTE methodology. This involved literature review, personal observations, semi-structured interviews, and focus groups with key stakeholders in the humanitarian system and people affected by the crisis. In Somalia, security restrictions hampered access to reliable data, key geographies and affected people.

Findings and Conclusions:

Each country report has detailed and targeted recommendations. The HCT and its stakeholders have developed specific actions to respond to them. From all these recommendations, it is possible to condense a number of common key findings for improvement in the humanitarian system that should be considered in preparing for and responding to similar emergencies.

Key findings include:
1. Early warning is no substitute for situation-based needs assessment.
2. Early action needs to be a priority as late-stage crisis prevention.
3. Safety nets and DRR are the best value and most scalable first line of response.
4. Strategy to build and localize response in Government and national NGOs works best.
5. Multi-year CAP planning & investments cycle are essential in chronic-crisis countries.
6. Strategy needs to focus more on humanitarian outcomes and cross-sector strategy.
7. Clusters must be powerfully led decision-making not consensus-seeking groups.
8. Coasted scenario and contingency planning should be required in all crisis planning.
9. More cluster time needs to be spent on planning and deciding than on information.
10. IASC response needs to find harmony and synergy with non-CAP donors and actors.

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