1.0 This real time evaluation was commissioned by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on behalf of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), as one part of a wider evaluation of the international response to the drought crisis in the Horn of Africa in 2011. It considers the question of how well the component parts of the international humanitarian system worked together and with others to address the drought crisis in Somalia. The security context dictated the evaluation methods, with heavy reliance on key informant interviews and documentary review and relatively little on !eld visits and community consultation. Field visits were limited to Mogadishu, Hargeisa in Somaliland, and the refugee camps of Dadaab in Kenya.
2.0 Though labelled a ‘drought crisis’, the crisis in Somalia that began in late 2010 has a number of causes. The immediate factors were the (La Niña-related) failure of two consecutive rains and the escalation of food prices relative to the value of livestock and wages. These combined with the effect of successive shocks in recent years to overwhelm people’s already fragile livelihoods and purchasing power, particularly among the agro-pastoralist communities of South Central Somalia.
3.0 Within the overall crisis, several distinct but related crises can be identi!ed: of food security and livelihoods, of access to water, of nutrition and health, of forced displacement and violent insecurity. While crisis conditions have existed for many years, 2011 saw a major escalation and large scale distress migration. Above all, this was an acute crisis of food access and (to some extent) availability, culminating in famine conditions in parts of South Central in mid-late 2011. The ongoing armed conflict, including its regional aspects, had a strong influence both on the nature of the crisis and the response to it.
4.0 Amongst the many constraints facing humanitarian assistance has been the limitation of secure access to the areas worst affected in the crisis, the culmination of several years of deteriorating access to South Central Somalia. This has limited the availability and quality of information as well as the ability to provide direct assistance. Heavy reliance on remote operations and untested partnerships has raised issues of effectiveness, quality and accountability. The absence of the UN World Food Programme (WFP) from these areas (forced to withdraw in 2010) left a major gap in the assistance chain, one that could only partly be !lled by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and others.