The object of review is a four-year programme i.e. ‘Integrated Community Based Risks Reduction Programme’ (ICBRR) which the Pakistan Red Crescent Society (PRC) has been implementing. Started in 2014, it will be completed in December 2017. International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Pakistan Delegation has provided technical and financial assistance. The overall programme budget is 3.75 million Swiss Francs (CHFs). The Norwegian Red Cross remains the key contributor of funds through IFRC, whereas other partner national societies (PNS’s) have financially supported this programme.
The ICBRR is being implemented in ten communities, two each from five districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP - only one district), Sindh (two districts), and Azad Jammu & Kashmir (AJK – two districts). This is a mid-term review that covers the activities undertaken until May 2016.
The ICBRR goal is ‘the resilience level of targeted communities is significantly strengthened with sustainable and quality branch capacity in service delivery’. The specific objectives are as below:
To enhance the resilience of the selected ten communities through community-led Integrated Risk Reduction activities;
To establish and strengthen the relevant district branches of PRC in delivery of integrated community resilience-building programmes beyond this programme.
The ICBRR envisaged to benefit 3000 households (18,000 individuals) directly, and an additional 9000 HHs (54,000 individuals) indirectly, through community based and community led activities in multiple thematic areas (considered integrated and complementary). The programmatic interventions or activities are centred around disaster risks reduction, community based hygiene and first aid (CBHFA), youth and volunteers’ development (Y&V), community mobilization, trainings, linkage development and advocacy, and capacity building of district level PRC branches (within the ambit of organizational development or branch development).
The ICBRR is a pilot programme that planned to combine and implement two evolving approaches within the Red Cross & Red Crescent Movement. These two approaches include, ‘Integrated Programming Approach’ (IPA)1, and ‘Resilience Building Approach’ which has been exhaustively explained in IFRC’s Framework for Community Resilience (FCR). The pilot implementation entails leveraging existing methods and tools (for various themes) and developing/adapting new methods and tools to pilot implement the integrated approaches.
The MTR was planned for end 2015, however was commissioned in mid2016. AAN Associates, a Pakistan/Norway based consultants were contracted to do the review. The review was undertaken between June-August 2016.
Purpose/Objective & Methodology:
The review/MTR purpose is to assess the ICBRR design, performance (so far), and guide future implementation of the programme for remaining cycle. The review has been carried out using OECD-DAC evaluation criteria, with additional elements such as compliance, gender, and diversity. The review has an expressed formative focus, requiring consultants to distil and document lessons learnt and set recommendations for the future.
The specific objectives of the review are:
(1) Assess the design of the programme in the context of review criteria, compliance with the programme objectives and the IFRC-defined characteristics of a resilient community as well as the characteristics of a well-functioning national society; (2) Identify the lessons and areas for programme modification for the purpose of accountability and learning.
This review entailed assessment and considered commentary on range of programmatic and operational aspects such as design, tools, documentation and application, coordination mechanism, and choice of interventions.
The review methodology features mixed-method approach. This included secondary review, primary (quality) information collection through key informant interviews (KIIs), focus group discussions (FGDs), and observations during field/site visits. The reviewers visited all five districts, however covered only five communities (out of ten where interventions were made) in the three regions.
The reviewers conducted thirty-six (36) KIIs i.e. six KIIs (or group KIIs) at NHQ level, another two (02) at each PHQ level, and up to five (05) at each of PRC (district) Branch level, which also included relevant district level government and non-government entities. These include group interviews also. The reviewers consulted communities through FGDs and held seven (07) focus group discussions with men and women groups. Of the seven FGDs, two were done specifically with women, where 26 women attended these discussions. In total over 146 men and women were consulted through the review. The extent of stakeholders’ covered at all levels, with varying interests and engagement in the programme, the reviewers could gather a whole range of different views, experiences and suggestions. The coverage in terms of reaching out to the stakeholders at varied levels and seeking inputs from both PRC/IFRC at all critical stages of review design and implementation, makes it a ‘Participatory Review’.
The ICBRR programme and its stakeholders i.e. PRC and IFRC would like to consider following aspects of particular findings so that future programmatic investments can be made even more successful:
I. ICBRR was a process oriented pilot programme with five implementation phases. The reviewers find traces of impatience and frustration, at various levels i.e. within PRC and communities, with the lengthy process and pace of delivering tangible services to the communities. II. As much as possible, it is desirable that the community level civil work is done with skills and resources available within or areas close to these communities, instead of hiring a contractor from outside which often increases the financial costs. This was particularly noticed for installation of community latrines in Sindh. III. The CBOs created or activated by the programme are far from an initial level of institutional maturity and leadership drive. Their understanding, capacities and resources are too limited to operate independently on their own. IV. Similarly, most of the PRC branches at district level under this programme are at an early stage of growth; hence aren’t ready to take off to actively look for project funding and partnerships on their own initiatives and projects under the leadership of their respective PHQs. V. The financial ceiling for MMPs ordinarily is under PKRs 500,000 which seems quite modest keeping in view the lack of community level physical infra-structure and depreciated value of local currency. VI. The M&E system at programme and PRC levels exists and functioning but at a very basic level. It lacks robustness and sophistication in terms of e.g. reporting protocols, resources, knowledge management, an indicators registry for PRC programming, and a user friendly MIS. VII. IFRC and its PNS’s are committed to the humanitarian principles which are also related to the ‘accountability to beneficiaries’- such a system at organizational level existed once at PRC. The reviewers did not find evidence of complaint and feedback mechanisms or systems (as part of accountability to beneficiaries) either developed or implemented until this time.
In addition to the findings there are a number of lessons learnt which are covered in details in the main body. First one is about implementation of FCR, which has ‘economic opportunities’ as one of the seven characteristics of resilient communities. This element was missing in ICBRR; if creation of economic opportunities is not possible within the organizational mandate, it may be addressed through linkages and collaboration with some income generation or rural development programmes in the target areas. Another lesson learnt could be related to greater programme linkages and collaboration with national stakeholders such as NDMA and PDMAs. This will not only earn recognition and visibility of PRC work but also better align programmatic contribution with national priorities and plans. Similarly, while at district branch level one notices local level collaborations with other NGOs, these are ad-hoc. If factored in at programme design level to have on-purpose local level partnerships, this can make the programme more cost effective and multiply the benefits.
There are a number of specific recommendations in relation to some of the most significant findings for the management of PRC and IFRC, which are outlined as follows: I. The phased approach of the ICBRR programme can be further strengthened and made more cost effective in terms of time and resources if the phases are squeezed. This is especially true for inception and assessment phases of the programme. II. For community level physical infrastructure related work such as construction of latrines, it would be more cost effective if the civil work is done through local masons instead of contracting out whole work to a contractor. Work through local masons also helps them in livelihood and development of their occupational skills. III. The CBOs created or revived by the programme will be better prepared to take on the resilience agenda in their respective communities if they are provided with additional trainings and some institutional development support. IV. The Branches of PRC in the ICBRR districts are at different level of growth and maturity. While a couple of branches are grown up such as in Mansehra, the others such as in Tharparkar require much more support from PHQ and NHQ. V. Moving on from this phase of ICBRR, there is a need to upwardly revise the average ceiling of MMPs from PKRs 500,000 to around PKRs 1 million, keeping in view the depreciating value of PKRs and lack of local level mitigation structures. VI. It’s earnestly recommended to invest in planning, monitoring & evaluation system within ICBRR and PRC. Not that it’s not there but it has to now transform from a very basic into a more sophisticated system, equipped with augmented skills, tools and resources.
The ICBRR has evidently contributed to perception of improved resilience in communities. The communities acknowledge and appreciate the programmatic interventions in enabling them to predict and respond more efficiently and effectively to future disasters. However, it’s a work in progress keeping view the vulnerabilities and widespread poverty in the programme areas.
The ICBRR has been successful in transforming the PRC leadership and staff at all levels, where all subscribe to integrated programming and resilience building approaches as the future of PRC. This is monumental for an organization involved in emergency response undertakings for past several years. It would now be imperative that this transition is successfully completed with the help of an all-out commitment to these improvised approaches. To materialize this, PRC will have to invest in bringing its support systems at NHQ and PHQ levels at par with needs of the newer work approaches to fully tap the potential of benefits from these new programme approaches.
It will be pertinent for PRC and IFRC to jointly reflect, with relevant team members, on the findings, lessons learnt and recommendations from this MTR, and develop an action plan for prioritized activities and changes within ICBRR and at institutional level too.