During the review, the team held interviews with key informants and focus group discussions, as well as visited the affected district and community in Mangochi. The field visit gave the opportunity for those directly involved in operations to share the challenges faced as well as how activities were coordinated and implemented in response to the floods. This was followed by a one-and-a-half day internal lessons learned workshop involving key members of the MRCS headquarters, Mangochi Branch and volunteers.
Overall the Malawi Flood DREF operation was well implemented and generally on track for achieving the outputs. The National Society and Mangochi Branch have an effective rapid response system in place (although lacking immediate start up resources and funds). Positive feedback was received by the district, branches, volunteers, village leaders and beneficiaries on the Malawi Red Cross Society’s (MRCS) response to the disaster as well as there was strong collaboration between MRCS headquarters and branch with the district.
The DREF process and timing generally worked well. A timeline of the process can be found in annex 4 of this report. However, the number of households reached with shelter assistance and NFIs was reduced to 1421 (from the originally planned 1600) due to verification of registered households by the district. Registration techniques coordinated by the district held potential biases and no concrete monitoring tools were in place, resulting in possible beneficiaries being missed. Although efforts were made by MRCS, data collected did not meet IFRC standards (i.e. breakdown by gender and various vulnerabilities). It was also stated that the UNFPA has asked and funded the government to redo the registration of the communities. This implies support in the concern of the registration and potentially missed beneficiaries.
The visibility of MRCS was hampered by volunteers receiving Red Cross stickers rather than t-shirts and bibs for identification (although this was budgeted for). However, trainings of volunteers provided by the DREF operations (erecting shelters, first aid, hygiene promotion and community based management of water, sanitation and hygiene facilities) contributed to the increased capacity in responding to disasters. A very positive outcome of the DREF operation is the regeneration of a MRCS branch and generation of sub divisions.
As a result of the operation, the number of volunteers and members have dramatically increased.
Transport has been a large challenge for the DREF including impassable roads, volunteers struggling to get to far-to-reach areas (often putting in their own funds) and the MRCS truck breaking down; transportation costs were also not adequately budgeted for. Overall MRCS monitoring and evaluation components were weak and in need of greater support. A general lack of understanding of M&E existed and how it can feed into good operational response and quality reporting.
Three separate IFRC monitoring missions were performed over the DREF, a SARO financial, a PMER/Zone visit and a SARO operations visit, which has hopefully contributed to the support of the operation.
Overall, the operation has gone very well, particularly given that the National Society has an ongoing Emergency Appeal for food security and additional development work. The review team was very impressed with the performance and professionalism of the MRCS, and this review acknowledges their response to the floods in Malawi in 2013, and the opportunity to potentially improve future responses.