The evaluation of the WFP corporate (Level 3) emergency response in northeast Nigeria covered all WFP activities in the region from 2016 to 2018. It assessed the appropriateness of design and delivery, operational performance and factors and quality of strategic decision making. It offers corporate opportunities for learning, as well as country-specific recommendations.
Since 2009, violent attacks on civilians have displaced large numbers of people in northeast Nigeria. The conflict has worsened chronic food and nutrition insecurity. At the peak of the crisis, in 2016−2017, over 3 million people were classified as being in Integrated Food Security Phase Classification Phase 3 (crisis), 4 (emergency) or 5 (famine).
The evaluation found that the WFP response was broadly appropriate, as WFP both drew on, and contributed to, improved assessment of needs. There was a lack of transparency, however, between the assessment results and WFP operational plans. The nutrition strategy was well adapted to the circumstances. The initial cash-based response was appropriate but the assessment of the delivery mechanism was inadequate. Risks were identified from the outset but important protection risks were not addressed in a timely way. In addition, important opportunities for gender analysis were missed. The programme was not fully compliant with humanitarian principles and, while trade-offs on principles may be inevitable, decisions do not appear to have been made strategically or coherently among humanitarian agencies.
Food assistance and nutrition activities were scaled up rapidly and covered large numbers of beneficiaries but fell somewhat short of targets, with little evidence of outcomes. The delivery and utility of common services generally exceeded targets. The decision on WFP’s entry into Nigeria was slow and delayed by political factors. The regional bureau for West Africa played an important role in establishing the operation but the country office struggled with frequent changes in leadership and staffing. Limited progress was made in building national capacities and accountability through capacity strengthening.
The ability of WFP to rapidly scale up was impressive and is credibly associated with food security improvements. WFP was slower to deliver a high-quality response, however. A more robust approach is required to ensure that beneficiaries are either moved to government support or provided with sustainable livelihood opportunities or other avenues for self-reliance. Given the continuing high rates of food insecurity and the highly unpredictable security situation, life-saving assistance is a continuing priority, and WFP needs to advocate vigorously for such needs to be met in full.
The evaluation generated seven recommendations for WFP: i) to enhance coverage of, and preparedness plans for, major emergencies in countries where WFP does not have a presence; ii) to strengthen corporate capacity to rapidly deploy sufficiently experienced staff to lead and manage the in-country emergency response; iii) to strengthen support for country offices in planning, delivering and reporting on capacity strengthening for national institutions in emergencies; iv) to maintain a core strategic focus on addressing the immediate needs of affected populations in northeast Nigeria; v) to appropriately promote the application of humanitarian principles and equal access to food and nutrition assistance; vi) to reinforce efforts to mainstream gender in programme activities; and vii) to clarify and improve its targeting approach.