Summary Report: Final Evaluation of the Unconditional Cash and Voucher Response to the 2011–12 Crisis in Somalia
On 20 July 2011, the United Nations declared a famine in parts ofSomalia; the crisis affecting some 3.1 million people, 2.8 million of whom were in southern and central Somalia. The causes? A series of failed rains and a rapid increase in food prices, complicating an already impossible situation characterised by ongoing civil war and insecurity, lack of humanitarian access, politicisation of aid by Al Shabaab and donor policies, and the absence of effective and accountable government.
These latter factors also contributed to the withdrawal of principal food aid actors in 2009 and 2010 and, therefore, the cessation of the primary means of addressing food insecurity crises in Somalia, until now.
In the context of increasingly widespread and severe suffering, displacement and excess mortality and with a clear humanitarian imperative to act, 17 non-governmental agencies dared to scale up an unprecedented and innovative cash transfer programme in response to the famine. Between July 2011 and December 2012, with the assistance of UNICEF and donors, these agencies effectively delivered programmes totalling 110 million US dollars, contributing to the food and non-food needs of 1.5 million beneficiaries.
This Evaluation of the Unconditional Cash and Voucher Response in southern and central Somalia provides an independent analysis of the appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency and impact of the cash response, with a strong emphasis on learning for future humanitarian interventions using cash globally, and in Somalia specifically. The findings should be considered in the context of one of the most difficult humanitarian operating environments in the world, where the dedicated staff of aid agencies took considerable personal risks and organisations took reputational risks to meet a clear imperative to act in the face of catastrophe. As with any humanitarian response, particularly one implemented at scale and under duress, there were many aspects that could have been improved.Thus the evaluation findings are measured given the alternative -the consequences of a failure to act in the face of one of the first famines of the twenty first century.