South Asia: Independent evaluation of the DEC tsunami crisis response

Report
from Disasters Emergency Committee
Published on 31 Dec 2005
Report to the DEC Board

December 2005

Tony Vaux (Team Leader)

Mihir Bhatt and Disaster Mitigation Institute Abhijit Bhattacharjee Michele Lipner Jean McCluskey Asmita Naik Frances Stevenson (Manager)

Supported by: Isnino Ahmed Muse Vivek Rawal Sarah Routley Kalinga Tudor Silva Peter Wiles

Introduction

This report focuses on issues for the DEC. It is based on visits by the evaluation team to Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Somalia and desk studies of the response in Maldives, Myanmar and Thailand. Evaluators were supported by local consultants and by community surveys conducted for the evaluation by the Disaster Mitigation Institute based in India. Following usual DEC practice, the primary measure of assessment is the Red Cross Code. This is a precise set of standards, signed up to by all DEC members; by using the standards, personal judgment by the evaluators can be kept to a minimum. The process of the evaluation has been limited to an extent by the end date set by the DEC but is considered satisfactory at least in relation to the four countries visited.

Overview

The tsunami disaster is unique as the most destructive disaster of its kind recorded and as the subject of the biggest response from the public around the world. These factors have had three major consequences:

- The unique nature of the event led to uncertainty about the principles of reconstruction.

- The level of destruction undermined response capacity in the most devastated areas, notably in Indonesia.

- Public interest created unprecedented pressure to achieve rapid results.

There is some variation between the affected countries. Of the three most severely affected countries, Indonesia was by far the worst affected and has least capacity both in regional government and civil society. The most extreme variation in the affected countries is Somalia which lacks formal government structures. An important complication is that the most affected regions of the two most affected countries, Indonesia and Sri Lanka, have suffered civil war for more than two decades.

A total of around £350million is available from the Appeal and is currently due to be spread over three years. All DEC members have responded to the disaster. Spending is divided between the countries as follows: 31% each for Indonesia and Sri Lanka, 25% for India and 13% for other countries and HQ costs. Spending in the first year is now projected at £128 million against an initial budget of £151 million as follows:

Projected spending and budgets in 2005: members (£m)

£m
AA
BRCS
CAFOD
CARE
CA
Concern
HTA1.5
Merlin
Oxfam
SC
TF
WV
Projection
11
16
9
9
17
7
3
3
24
19
4
6
Budget
13
32
8
9
17
8
4
4
26
19
5
6

Projected spending and budgets in 2005: countries (£m)

£m
Indonesia
Sri Lanka
India
Others total
Thailand
Somalia
Maldives
Myanmar
HQ costs
Projection
40
40
32
16
2
5
6
0.3
2.7
Budget
56
41
35
19
2
5
8
1
3

Source: DEC 6/10/05

As a general conclusion, DEC members have scaled up rapidly and played a major role in relief and recovery. The affected people have received the necessary support in the immediate aftermath of the disaster. Although epidemics and nutritional deficiencies are not expected in this context, it is still a matter of satisfaction that the health status of survivors has been satisfactory, Beneficiary surveys indicate a high level of satisfaction with initial relief inputs. But this has decreased over time and there is particular dissatisfaction with current conditions in temporary shelter. If there is a fault in the DEC response it is in shifting too rapidly from relief to reconstruction without due regard for the intermediary stage. There is now widespread concern about the pace of reconstruction, but some of these expectations are unrealistic. The DEC's contribution to rebuilding houses is satisfactory at this stage.

In summary, positive aspects of the DEC response include:

- Rapid and extensive provision of relief items

- Effective use of cash-for-work programmes

- Widespread role in water and sanitation

- Good support to government in areas such as health and child protection

- Timely and extensive provision of livelihood support

- Sensitivity to marginalized groups.

- DEC members have followed and promoted higher standards than others

Negative aspects of the response include:

- Indonesia has been relatively neglected

- There has been progress in pockets while other areas and issues were neglected

- Thousands of people are still living in tents, especially in Indonesia; others live in unsafe conditions in temporary shelters

- Livelihood responses have been piecemeal rather than strategic

- Involvement of beneficiaries in decision-making has been limited

- The affected people have not been given enough information.

Looking to the future, the most urgent need is to get people out of tents, ensure that temporary shelters are safe, make people better informed and involved in the reconstruction process and put the livelihood recovery process on a more strategic basis. These objectives are more likely to be reached through further collaboration between DEC members rather than by individual and competitive efforts.

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