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Disasters Emergency Committee – East Africa Crisis Appeal: Ethiopia Real-Time Evaluation Report January 2012

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Executive Summary

1. Background to the RTE

This report contains the findings of a real-time evaluation conducted for the DEC in Ethiopia in November 2011, as part of a wider regional RTE also covering Kenya and the response to recent Somali refugee influxes in both countries. A summary Synthesis report has also been written for the overall regional response (not including Somalia), which includes some generic conclusions about the DEC response and should be read in conjunction with the present report. The provisional conclusions of this RTE were shared and discussed with DEC member agencies in Addis Ababa prior to the evaluation team’s departure. One member of the team was appointed by the Canadian Humanitarian Coalition1 to evaluate the use of HC funding, test the viability of joint evaluation and provide a particular focus on gender issues.

Following the DEC ‘accountability priorities’, the performance of the DEC agencies was reviewed according to the effectiveness and efficiency of the response to date, including preparedness; the quality of responses judged against established standards, principles and best practice; the accountability of agencies to aid recipients; and the extent to which lessons had been learned from previous responses, in particular regarding the link between short and long term dimensions of crisis in this region. The specific questions addressed under each heading can be found in the Annex.

2. Context

The context for the Ethiopia crisis response was a situation of critical food insecurity, water shortage and acute stress on households and livelihoods, particularly in the south and east of the country (Oromiya, SNNPR and Somali regions) which is where this RTE was focused, with field visits to Gode and Borena zones. In addition, the RTE considered the response by DEC agencies to the situation of Somali refugees in the camps at Dolo Ado. The immediate trigger for the crisis was drought attributed to the current La Niña episode in the eastern Pacific and consequent failure of meher and belg rains in the highlands – as well as patchy deyr and gu rains in Somali region. As in Kenya, this compounded other factors including high food and fuel prices. The symptoms of the crisis have included high levels of acute malnutrition, morbidity and mortality, the most extreme conditions being found in the Somali refugee camps. Most of those consulted felt that, thanks to early warning, existing safety nets and systematic response to problems like acute malnutrition, a potential catastrophe had been averted. Certainly there has not been famine like that experienced in the conflict-affected 1980s, since when Ethiopia has developed considerably. Even since 2006 there has been significant progress. But there has been widespread human suffering, the response has been patchy and great damage has been done to livelihoods, particularly those of pastoralists.

Central government planning is a feature of the Ethiopian system, and this has both strengths in terms of early warning and coordination; and weaknesses in the form of delayed approvals and control of information. There is considerable mistrust of international organisations, particularly those working in the highly sensitive Somali region and the Dolo Ado camps, and there are tight restrictions on access, recruitment and operations. Establishing trust and good relationships at both Federal and Regional levels is said to be key to the ability to operate effectively.