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Real Time Evaluation (RTE) – East Africa Crisis Appeal Synthesis Report January 2012

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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1. The Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal for East Africa was launched through the UK media on 8 July 2011 and has raised GBP 75 million to date. This remarkably generous public response should be seen in perspective: it represents around 4% of overall international funding for the crisis response in the region; and particularly for the larger DEC member agencies, it represents a relatively small proportion of their funding for the crisis response (around 10% for some). That said, the DEC agencies together with their international affiliates represent the majority of the front-line delivery capacity of the international system. In that sense, this RTE can be seen as a snapshot of the performance of the wider system, and we believe that the findings of this evaluation of the response by DEC members will be of interest beyond the confines of the DEC.

The scope of this RTE was limited to the situations in Kenya and Ethiopia, including the situation of the recent Somali refugees in camps in those countries. Following the DEC ‘accountability priorities’, the performance of the DEC agencies was reviewed according to the effectiveness and efficiency of scale up, 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 particularly regarding the link between short and long term dimensions of crisis in this region. This short synthesis report highlights the main findings of the two separate RTE country reports and some additional cross-cutting issues.

2. In common with other appeals by international agencies, the DEC appeal has been framed in terms of one overarching ‘crisis’ affecting countries in East Africa. While this is justified by the common factors involved, and has some obvious advantages in presentational terms – not least the ability to draw on compelling images and statistics from Somalia and the related refugee populations – it over-simplifies the situations concerned. There are at least five distinct ‘crises’ involved, including the situations of the worst affected communities in Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia, and that of the Somali refugee camps in Dadaab (Kenya) and Dollo Ado (Ethiopia) – not to mention the situation in Djibouti and elsewhere in the region. Although Somalia was not included in the RTE for reasons of access, it was part of the appeal and to date accounts for around 35% of the planned allocation of funds. The situation in Somalia itself clearly remains of greatest humanitarian concern at the time of writing (January 2012), and has a major bearing on the prospects for Somali refugees in neighbouring countries.

3. Although these situations must be considered separately in terms of the particular factors and vulnerabilities involved, they clearly have features in common. In Kenya and Ethiopia, the failure of two successive rainy seasons has been the immediate cause of crisis, compounding the stress on households due to inflated food prices (typically around 40% higher than in 2010) and the ‘ratchet’ effect on household economies of successive recent poor years (2006-10). Then there are longer term structural factors at work: demographics, climate change and resource competition, and related political agendas. In both countries the result has been acute food insecurity for millions of people, crop failure, loss of assets and income-generating capacity for many (particularly among pastoralists), distress migration and acute water shortages. In anthropometric terms, the symptoms have included very high levels of acute malnutrition along with significant increases in morbidity and mortality. While the most severe symptoms have been seen in the Somali refugee camps, particularly in mid-2011, levels of global acute malnutrition as high as 37% have been recorded elsewhere (in Turkana, northern Kenya). Statistical evidence for such outcomes remains patchy, but in general there has been no shortage of information to inform decision making. In particular, early warning information on key ‘risk’ indicators (including rainfall, crop yields and changes in market prices) dating back to mid-2010 has been plentiful in both countries and largely accurate.