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Disasters Emergency Committee Annual Trustees' Report and Accounts 2007/08

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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Key Achievements against the 3 DEC priorities for 2007/08

Priority 1

Maximise income for appeals

The DEC launched 2 appeals this year Darfur & Chad Crisis

In May 2007, the DEC appealed to the UK public for their help with what the United Nations described as the world's worst humanitarian crisis. Four and a half million people were brought to the brink of disaster in the Darfur region of Sudan, with the conflict spilling over into neighbouring Chad and the Central African Republic. This was the second time the DEC had appealed for Darfur because of the worsening situation. The appeal was open throughout the financial year and it raised over =A313 million (=A37 million directly by the DEC and =A36 million by DEC Member Agencies).

Gift Aid income is =A3800,000. Programme activities were designed to help around 284,200 households; with an average of 5 - 6 people per household. The number of people supported by DEC funds is likely to be approximately 1.5 million.

Bangladesh Cyclone

At the end of November 2007, the DEC appealed again to the public, this time in the aftermath of Cyclone Sidr, when rescuers struggled to reach isolated areas along Bangladesh's devastated coast. We asked for support to give aid to millions of survivors. Three thousand people were confirmed dead and five million were affected. This emergency came soon after the flooding in the northern regions of the country.

The appeal raised =A38 million and was an important contribution to the relief effort (=A36m by DEC and =A32m by DEC Member Agencies). Gift Aid income to date is =A3537,000. The appeal remains open into the next financial year.

Appeal activities

Press coverage

National and Regional press releases were issued over a two week period for both the Darfur & Chad and Bangladesh appeals.

The DEC placed press advertisements in 34 national papers for Darfur & Chad and 14 for Bangladesh. It was particularly difficult to obtain coverage for the Bangladesh appeal because most advertising space had been pre-bought by commercial advertisers for their Christmas promotions.

Press conferences

For the Darfur & Chad appeal there was a press conference at Save the Children's office in London and for the Bangladesh appeal one in the House of Lords (hosted by Baroness Udin) and another on Brick Lane, London (hosted by the Bangladesh restaurateurs).

Telephone calls

For the launch night 5000 lines were set up for the Darfur & Chad appeal and 4000 lines for the Bangladesh appeal. Volunteers gave support on the TV launch night. For Darfur & Chad there were approximately 100 and for Bangladesh 70 volunteers. Our automated donation call lines have taken 28,000 calls for the Darfur & Chad appeal and 25,000 for the Bangladesh appeal.

TV and Radio coverage

The BBC, ITN, Sky, Channel 4, Channel 5 and MTV all covered the Darfur & Chad appeal. The BBC produced an appeal broadcast for the Bangladesh appeal that was used by ITN and others whilst Sky produced their own. Joanna Lumley and Fergal Keane presented the appeals for Darfur & Chad. Adrian Chiles presented the BBC produced appeal for Bangladesh. In the nations, celebrities presented appeals in Scotland and Wales. Commercial radio stations covered the Darfur & Chad and Bangladesh appeals at least twice a day for a period of two weeks.

New Media advertising

DEC electronic banners started to be used in the Darfur & Chad appeal and 19 million impressions were served through major websites. With additional attention to this new media in the Bangladesh appeal the number of impressions increased to 33 million.

Appealing to the public

The DEC approached the public to support both the Darfur & Chad and Bangladesh appeals through email or letter mailings. Donors can also receive feedback through electronic media following an appeal.

Priority 2

Improved accountability

The Trustees agreed the following aims for a new Accountability Framework:

- ensure that the DEC remains publicly and independently accountable

- strengthen the Board's ability to hold members and the Secretariat to account

- ensure members have mechanisms of accountability to beneficiaries

- improve performance

- enhance reputation through a commitment to open information.

During the year, a rigorous process of assessment and reporting against accountability priorities set out below was rolled out.

- We run well managed appeals

- We use funds as stated

- We achieve intended programme objectives and outcomes

- We are committed to agreed humanitarian principles, standards and behaviours

- We are accountable to beneficiaries

- We learn from our experience

The Board of Trustees will use the evidence gathered to hold Member Agencies and the Secretariat to account and keep the public informed about how the DEC has performed annually. The Trustees are keen that the DEC Accountability Priorities represent 'frontiers of good practice' and reflect areas for improvement.

Monitoring of appeal expenditure

The Secretariat defines clear terms of reference for monitoring visits. The visits to both Chad and Bangladesh aimed to review what is being delivered, to reflect on how these programmes are supporting beneficiaries and to provide evidence for learning, especially for high risk areas.

The DEC collaborated in a National Audit Office 'Value for Money Review' providing an independent report of the 2006 response to the Kashmir (Asia) Earthquake. Information exchange and learning Throughout the year the Secretariat continued to facilitate Member Agencies' sharing of information on areas and countries of concern.

Six teleconferences were held, including two on Zimbabwe; two of the six teleconferences contributed to decisions to launch appeals. Written submissions with field reports are shared on the Members' area of the DEC website.

In addition the Trustees are committed to raising standards in the delivery of humanitarian programmes. During the year the DEC has reviewed construction in Indonesia and explored the challenges of involving vulnerable groups in local needs assessments.

Priority 3

Effective administration

New membership criteria

The Board has published new membership criteria to ensure the DEC is open to the leading UK charities capable of upholding established standards in humanitarian aid for emergency relief. The DEC has decided on a maximum membership of 15 to ensure that it remains cost effective and manageable in running successful unified appeals.

Office system improvements

A new website has been launched with the Darfur & Chad thank you and update message featuring Joanna Lumley. The new website has an improved structure, provides better navigation for users, more information on appeals and progress on disaster responses for donors and the public. Web based access to donor records enables us to respond to donor queries within 24 hours which has improved levels of donor care.

Numbers of donor queries for the Darfur & Chad and Bangladesh appeals were 324 and 206 respectively with less than 0.5 percent of these being complaints.

The Secretariat has reviewed and reissued the DEC Operations Manual which is the key tool for guiding the Secretariat interactions and agreements with Member Agencies. The new Manual improved the reporting on disaster responses and the evidence for reporting back on progress both to the Member Agencies and the general public.

A new critical path planner for launching an appeal with the key decision points and contributors has been established. This made it possible to launch the Bangladesh cyclone appeal within 48 hours of confirmation of the broadcasters' support.