Sudan

DEC Evaluation: Sudan Crisis Appeal

Format
Evaluation and Lessons Learned
Source
Posted
Originally published


Executive Summary
The evaluation examined the use of Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) funds, raised from the British public, for DEC agency activities in Sudan. The DEC appeal, in May 1998, raised UK £ 6.4 million. The planning process underlying those activities was robust although reportage of outcome is more variable. The lack of an overall framework for both information and monitoring after the appeal, raises questions about the DEC acting solely as a mechanism for fund raising.

The 1998 Sudan Crisis was really two distinct crises: acute famine in northern Bahr el Ghazal generated by displacement due to war and a chronic food shortage across most of southern Sudan, compounded by drought and flood. The initial lack of donor responses to appeals to deal with the second crisis limited the ability to address the first. Many agencies, including DEC members, were concerned that, without donor support, the acute crisis could spread to those parts of southern Sudan already suffering severe food crises.

Media coverage of the events of 1998 focused on the acute crisis in northern Bahr el Ghazal; DEC agencies differed in their interpretations of it.

The activities of the DEC agencies were timely and appropriate. Serious issues were raised in the field about the difficulties of delivering therapeutic and supplementary feeding in war conditions where DEC member agencies did not control general rations.

Humanitarian assistance was delivered by a variety of routes. The larger DEC member agencies provided substantial management for these varying routes without which logistical problems would have been greater.

By charging transport costs to other donors, and minimising labour and agency management costs to the DEC, member agencies maximised the impact of humanitarian supply and service delivery. Although data on the location and size of the Sudan crisis were poor and conflicting, the DEC appeal allowed member agencies to begin famine prevention strategies that shifted to famine relief as the crisis evolved. Although probably representing only one per cent of the total expenditure in Sudan on humanitarian assistance last year, the impact of the activities was far greater than their actual monetary value would suggest.

1.0 Background

1.1 Purpose of the Evaluation

The evaluation of the DEC Sudan Crisis Appeal is a requirement of the new procedures (1997) under which the DEC, currently 15 non-governmental organisations (NGOs), operates (Annex 1). It aims, inter-alia, to provide a direct and independent analysis of DEC agencies’ expenditure of appeal funds, both for the British donating public and for the DEC’s appeal partners. In addition, the DEC agencies wish to use the evaluation to consolidate models of good practice in humanitarian assistance.

1.2 DEC Agencies Participating in the Appeal

Funds were allocated to the 12 DEC agencies who participated in the appeal: the British Red Cross Society, CAFOD, CARE International UK, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Help the Aged, Medecins Sans Frontieres, Merlin, Oxfam, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision. Details of the final allocation of funds are provided in Table 4.

2.0 DEC Approach to the Evaluation

The DEC’s new procedures require that the independent evaluation be made public within 12 months of the appeal launch date.

2.1 Appointment of the Evaluation Team

The Operations Sub-Committee (OSC) of the DEC drafted Terms of Reference (ToR) (Annex 2) and made recommendations to the Executive Committee on the selection of the evaluation team. The Executive Committee was responsible for the appointment of the evaluation team.

Background information on the DEC, the appeal process, conditions of participation, sums disbursed and copies of participating agencies’ submissions were provided for the evaluation team by the DEC Secretariat.

2.2 Planning and Reporting System for DEC Participating Agencies

The participation of DEC agencies in an appeal is conditional on the submission of satisfactory plans and reports:

a) Within 48 hours of the decision to launch the appeal a ‘48-Hour Plan of Action’ is submitted. It is reviewed by the OSC which, if necessary, will seek further clarification before the appeal is launched.

b) Within a month a ‘4-Week Plan of Action’ is produced which includes details of the proposed activities and a breakdown of the budget.

c) The ‘Seventh-Month Final Expenditure Report’ includes a narrative specifying the actual activities and expenditures against those predicted in the 4-Week

Plan of Action

The evaluation team selected for the Sudan Crisis Appeal was ETC (UK). The selection, managed by DEC (OSC), followed tendering, short listing and an open ended interviewing.

3.0 ETC (UK) Approach to the Evaluation

ETC (UK) initially offered six people, in three teams, for the evaluation. In the event, seven people were used. An eighth, Pierson Ntata, a sociologist, worked alongside the south Sudan Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) team, investigating the beneficiary aspects of the interventions on behalf of the Active Learning Network on Accountability in Humanitarian Assistance (ALNAP). ). One person visited Khartoum, and its southern garrison towns, Wau and Juba. Three teams were established in south Sudan to trace the four independent delivery routes of humanitarian assistance. These were:

  • Southern Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS)
  • A consortium of churches
  • International Committee of the Red Cross/Red Crescent (ICRC)
  • Concern’s independent route

3.1 Team Members

Team members were:

(i)
North Sudan Mary Corbett, Nutrition
(ii)
South Sudan (OLS) John Kirkby, Evaluation
Elizabeth Kejji, Nutrition
(iii)
South Sudan (a church consortium) Phil O’Keefe, Team Leader
Mark Jerome, Logistics
(iv)
South Sudan (ICRC) Fred Wekesa, Agronomy

Team members worked across delivery routes in the field.

3.2 Terms of Reference

The full Terms of Reference are provided in Annex 2. Key questions for the evaluation team concerned the efficiency and effectiveness of DEC agencies in implementing activities financed by the DEC Sudan Crisis Appeal using donations from the British public.

ETC (UK) had, by contract, a total of 187 days for the evaluation of which 140 were to be field based. After initially contacting the heads of DEC member agencies to inform them of the beginning of the evaluation, ETC (UK) had a range of contacts with country and emergency desks in the United Kingdom as well as with academic institutions interested in the unfolding picture of the Sudan Crisis in 1998.

3.3 Methodology

ETC (UK) offered, as a model of good practice, a framework for addressing key issues in the evaluation; it was a modified version of UNHCR’s evaluative framework (published in Hallam, 1998, ALNAP Good Practice Review). It also offered a debriefing in the field, to ensure that evaluation judgements reflected the decisions of field staff. A peer review hosted by the Overseas Development Institute and including representation from the Disaster Management Centre at Cranfield University was also proposed.

Central to the ETC (UK) approach was an attempt to draw out timelines of the unfolding of the crisis and timelines of DEC agency responses. Annex 3 provides an overall timeline for the emergence of the famine. Annex 4 provides an example of a timeline for a DEC agency intervention. In emergency action, timelines are critical for analysing efficient (costs) and effective (outcomes) responses.

Draft reports were considered by members of the DEC who provided the basis for verbal criticism at a meeting of DEC agencies in London.

The report is weighted towards the southern sector because most of the DEC member agencies operated there; in the northern sector, the only activities open to investigation were in the towns of Juba and Wau, both held by the Government of Sudan (GoS). In the southern sector, most reportage is of OLS activities because most DEC agencies worked through OLS. This was despite the fact that one third of the funds passed through non-OLS structures. These non-OLS structures include the ICRC and the routings of money through church structures both north and south. One DEC agency, Concern, remained outside the OLS, church and ICRC routings.

4.0 ETC (UK) Field Contacts

ETC (UK) field visits are detailed in Tables 1 and 2. ETC (UK) managed to visit all member agencies although contact with some was greater than with others.

Table 1 Field Interviews (Northern Sector)

KHARTOUM
FIELD
DEC Agencies and NGO Partners
1. SCF.UK
Yes
Yes (A, B, S)
2. HelpAge International
Yes
Yes (A, B, S)
3. CARE
Yes
Yes (A, B, S)
4. OXFAM
Yes
Yes (A, B, S)
5. ICRC
Yes
Yes (A, B, S)
UN Agencies
6. UNICEF
Yes (S)
7. UNCHR
Yes

A. ACTIVITIES B. BENEFICIARIES S. STAFF

Table 2 Field Interviews (Southern Sector)

NAIROBI LOKICHOGGIO
FIELD
DEC Agencies and NGO Partners
1. Oxfam
Yes
Yes Yes (A, B, S)
2.World Vision International
Yes
Yes No
3. Tearfund
Yes
Yes Yes (A, B, S)
4. Merlin
Yes
Yes No
5. MSF (H) Yes(MSF B & H) Yes (MSF B & Swiss (S)
6. CARE
Yes
No No
7. ICRC
Yes
Yes Yes (Hospital) (A, B, S)
8. Christian Aid
Yes
Supraid) (I) A Church Consortium (Yes (A, B, S) A Church Consortium
9. CONCERN
Yes
Yes YesNo
10. Diocese of Rumbek
Yes
Yes Yes (A, B, S)
11. SCF
Yes
Yes Yes (A, B, S)
UN Agencies and Other NGO Players
OLS
-
OLSLocal administration (3)
UNICEF
-
A church consortium
WFP
-
WFP
SRRA
-
A church consortium

A - ACTIVITIES B - BENEFICIARIES S - STAFF

5.0 Emergence of the Sudan Crisis

The DEC Sudan Crisis Appeal was made because, by late April 1998, the complex chronic emergency of southern Sudan was turning into an acute disaster calling for substantial humanitarian assistance. Continued war, coupled with poor harvests, has led the UN system, largely through the OLS, to launch a consolidated appeal for Sudan. This consolidated appeal, asking for US $109 million, was not officially activated until February 1998, although the donor community knew of its content from October 1997. For a variety of reasons, donor response was slow even though there had been sufficient early warning. Because of the consequent lack of donor funding, preparations to tackle the growing crisis were not begun. Early warnings particularly focused on the general ration needed for the hungry season from April to August. Donors reacted slowly because they hoped to exercise leverage on the peace process; they also mistrusted the figures used to calculate vulnerable populations, the targeting mechanisms and the critical needs appraisals. They were also dissatisfactied with the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army’s (SPLA) refusal of access to one International Non-Governmental Organisation INGO.

Map 1 outlines political control in southern Sudan. Of particular note is the number of government controlled garrison towns and the long distances involved in providing humanitarian assistance for those in SPLA towns and South Sudan Independence Movement (SSIM) areas. Annex 5 contains a description of a garrison town.

In January, the war escalated. One commander, Bol Kerubino, changed sides to join the SPLA and attacked the Government of Sudan (GoS) garrison town of Wau. The attack produced a large population displacement - 11,000 people left Wau in 10 days. It was estimated that a total of 70,000-100,000 people were displaced from the town of Wau and its environs between January and February, 1998.

This displacement, accompanied by looting and burning villages and crops by the chief protagonists in the war, associated armed groups and local ethnically rival groups, was accompanied by a ban on humanitarian assistance flights by GoS. The focus of the deepening crisis was northern Bahr el Ghazal where few OLS agencies had worked.

5.1 Affected Population

Table 3 contains details of the targeted population and the World Food Programme (WFP) food deliveries, projected and actual, from February to June 1998 in south Sudan. In May and June, as the crisis escalated, only about 50 per cent of food requirements to the targeted population were delivered.

The chronic conditions associated with the hungry season had been exacerbated by population displacement and the destruction of livelihoods in an escalating war: WFP had insufficient resources with which to address the emerging problem.

Table 3 Targeted Population, Food Requirement and Delivery in Bahr el Ghazal, 1998

MONTH
TARGET POPULATION (‘000)
FOOD REQUIREMENT (MT)
DELIVERY

(MT)
February
250
2,890
494.6
March
350
2,890
1,225.6
April
380
4,170
984.0
May
595
5,355
2,750.0
June
701
6,309
3,439.0

5.2 Decision to Appeal

Global press coverage of the emerging crisis was led by CNN, whose broadcasts in late April 1998, are credited with eventually raising some US$ 100 million from the donor community. In the UK, World Vision first alerted the DEC to events in southern Sudan. Initially, on April 27th 1998, the DEC Executive Committee decided not to make an appeal, arguing that the problem was one of chronic and endemic food shortages with pockets of greater need in Bahr el Ghazal. This decision was contested by World Vision, Christian Aid and CAFOD, who argued that they had sufficient evidence from the field of major famine caused by the displacement of people and the destruction of livelihood systems to warrant an appeal. More importantly, Christian Aid and CAFOD, who were not members of OLS, and who were not constrained in delivery by OLS protocols, argued that they were able to access the vulnerable population. World Vision, Christian Aid and CAFOD proceeded with individual appeals.

As the DEC continued to debate the timing of an appeal, the UK press discussed the ‘split’ in the DEC. Although the DEC Secretariat maintained the line that the key issue was OLS flight access, an underlying issue was the severity and extent of the famine. Christian Aid and CAFOD, with evidence of famine and without reliance on OLS flights, again argued strongly for an appeal. Save the Children Fund (SCF) released a document, funded by USAID, that emphasised the vulnerability of the southern Sudanese to famine. Because the report did not address the emergency in northern Bahr el Ghazal, some DEC agencies interpreted the report as opposing a DEC member appeal. In DEC discussions, SCF, supported by MSF, initially opposed an appeal although SCF argued that opposition was a tactical issue over the timing of an appeal, not opposition to an appeal per se. In the event, Kofi Annan announced a lifting of the GoS flight ban on May 2nd, 1998 and thus the obstacles to OLS intervention were removed. Debate continued within the DEC about issues relating to an appeal. On May 15th, 1998, OSC recommended a DEC appeal. On May 21st, 1998, the Sudan Crisis Appeal was launched.

On May 28th, 1998, The Secretary of State for International Development (DfID) attacked the DEC appeal at a media conference organised by DEC members. This public argument was aired in an International Development Committee (IDC) of the House of Commons Sub-Committee on June 24th, 1998. The key criticisms were that the appeal was unnecessary, since the UK government would provide cash and that it muddled the message about Sudan’s crisis in the public mind. The criticisms were repeated elsewhere provoking reaction from Oxfam and the DEC itself.

6.0 The DEC Sudan Crisis Appeal

In the three weeks following its launch, the DEC appeal raised UK £6.4 million from the British public. The 12 member agencies that took part in the appeal received funds allocated on a predetermined formula linked to their annual overseas expenditure of funds sourced in the UK. Table 4 contains details of the amounts, which came in five tranches, received by each agency. These figures contain two series of adjustments to various agencies, totalling UK £150,000.

Table 4 Final Allocation of Funds from the Sudan Crisis Appeal

AGENCY
AMOUNT
Share (Per Cent)
British Red Cross
1,089,280
17.02
CAFOD
322,600
4.65
Care International UK
371,200
5.80
Christian Aid
556,800
8.70
Concern Worldwide
147,200
2.30
Help the Aged
117,760
1.84
Medecins Sans Frontieres
118,960
1.39
Merlin
112,680
1.37
OXFAM
1,949,320
31.63
Save the Children
1,155,200
18.05
Tearfund
197,000
4.25
World Vision
192,000
3.00
TOTAL
6,400,000

Two agencies, Merlin and Tearfund, sought affiliation to OLS. Concern indicated that although it would work closely with OLS, it would re-establish a separate operation. In the southern sector, there were four distinct delivery channels: OLS southern sector, a church consortium, Concern and ICRC. In the northern sector deliveries went through OLS and the Sudan Council of Churches, as well as ICRC’s independent channel. ICRC is the only agency with its own facility for direct flights. Table 5 lists NGO affiliation by channel, although cross-channel delivery also existed.

Table 5 DEC Agencies’ Delivery Channels

CHANNEL NGOs
Southern Sector:

(i) OLS Southern Sector
(ii) A church consortium (non OLS)
(iii) Independent Access
(iv) ICRC
CARE, MSF, OXFAM, SCF, Tearfund, Merlin, World Vision
Christian Aid, CAFOD
Concern
British Red Cross
Northern Sector:

(i) OLS Northern Sector
(ii) Sudan Council of Churches
(iii) ICRC
HelpAge, CARE, OXFAM, SCF
CAFOD, Christian Aid
British Red Cross

7.0 Participating DEC Agencies’ Operations

Annex 7 outlines the activities of individual agencies. Prior to the launch of the appeal, the 12 DEC agencies wishing to participate submitted 48-Hour Plans of Action to the DEC for OSC scrutiny.

The different DEC agency delivery routes are outlined in Figure 1. Individual NGOs with a field presence before the appeal or which were primarily development based had significantly more to do with overall emergency management. These attributes provided them with rapid and accurate intelligence.

The figure reveals that DEC agencies responding to the Sudan crisis included all forms of British civil organisation, with the exception of organisations affiliated to non-European religions. Beneficiary groups (children and elderly) are directly targeted but adolescent and adult groups are not.

7.1 Types of Activity

Member agencies outlined a range of activities in their 4-Week Plans of Action. These activities can broadly be grouped into two major investments:

(i) Beneficiary targeted activities

(ii) Management activities to support humanitarian assistance delivery.

Some agencies, such as Oxfam, contributed to both types of activity.

Beneficiary targeted activities include

  • Welfare interventions for displaced people, e.g. survival kits
  • Famine prevention, e.g. seed and tools; fishing equipment
  • General ration to areas excluded from OLS, e.g. Nuba Mountains
  • Famine relief and associated medical interventions, e.g. supplementary and therapeutic feeding

Management activities include
  • Transport (e.g. aircraft hire), infrastructure repair and expansion (e.g. Lokichoggio airport apron)
  • Management (e.g. provision of analytical or management capacity)

As the 4-Week Plans of Action were established by detailed field reconnaissance and consultation with partners, they prioritised the activities needed to address the emerging famine. Vulnerable populations were assessed although evidence from the 4-Week Plans of Action suggests that targeting was still generalised and that little data about the overall presentation of the famine was available.

Bahr el Ghazal was accepted as the epicentre of the famine, but vulnerability did not reach its peak until August, although there is still some uncertainty about the date of the maximum need for feeding. Data from MSF Belgium show that their supplementary feeding for children peaked between the last week of July and the middle of August, while therapeutic feeding, in all locations across Bahr el Ghazal, peaked in mid October - the very period that WFP airdrops to south Sudan reached 15,000 Mt. Including other supply channels, deliveries to southern Sudan reached 17,000 Mt in that month.

The DEC decision in mid May to make an appeal, allowed agencies immediately to upgrade their programmes or, if they were not already operational, to start field activities. Much of the initial activity was in famine prevention, attempting to restore agricultural capacity, providing fishing gear to bolster hungry season food strategies and, where necessary, to provide rations to address the food gap. Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) needed a general ration coupled with shelter provision and household utensils. Much of the member agency planning focused on preventing an escalation of famine coupled with logistical preparation for a major airlift as the rains began and southern Sudan became non-operational except by airdrop. The rains did not, however, come as expected.

7.2 Evidence of the Delayed Rains in 1998

ETC (UK) commissioned a report, from the Division of Geography and Environmental Management in Northumbria University, on a comparison of the 1997 and 1998 seasons. The purpose of the report was to explore the validity of a famine prevention strategy by DEC member agencies in the delayed onset of rains in southern Sudan. This report, entitled "Sudanese Vegetation Response to Rainfall: A Comparative Analysis of Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) Data for 1997 and 1998" concluded:

It is clear from the NDVI analysis that the pattern for vegetation for 1998 in Sudan exhibited from the end of March an extended period of dryness.

The amount of dense vegetation cover in 1998 did not become significant until the beginning of August, whereas in 1997 dense vegetation had developed by the middle of May.

This indicated a delay of more than three months in the rain, which would result in a three-month delay in the harvest, prolonging the hungry period, but allowing the development of a famine prevention strategy. Although this strategy broadly worked across all of southern Sudan, it was not sufficiently targeted, especially by WFP, on northern Bahr el Ghazal. Thus by August, although the delivery of total WFP general rations peaked across southern Sudan, the peak in Bahr el Ghazal was actually November.

In 1998, the area of most vegetation classes remained fairly stable after the September maximum until the middle of November. 1997 exhibited a more prolonged but inconsistent decline in most vegetation groups after the August maximum.

When the rains came they came late and with such severity that flooding destroyed crops and restricted transport to airdrops. By August, however, member agencies, either using DEC or other funds, were actively involved in famine relief, not in famine prevention.

7.3 Expenditure by DEC Agencies

Table 6 shows expenditure on beneficiary and management targeted activities supporting delivery in the field. What is striking about the table is the limited expenditure on direct famine relief compared with the significant levels of expenditure on broader welfare programmes, famine prevention initiatives and the purchase of general rations. Transport and infrastructure activities are the single largest item of DEC expenditure.

Table 6 Final Expenditure

Category
Heading
£
%
Beneficiary Activities




Management Activities
Welfare
Prevention
General Rations
Famine Relief
Other
Transport & Infrastructure
Management
Other
464,644
668,742
671,860
520,523
520,187
1,804,752
220,562
20,240
9.50
13.67
13.74
10.64
10.63
36.89
4.51
0.41
Total
4,891,509
Source: DEC Agencies’ Seventh-Month Final Expenditure Reports, analysed by ETC (UK)

8.0 Evaluation Findings

In Sudan, the role of the DEC agencies and other INGOs, is significantly different from the roles that they occupy in parallel emergencies in Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia. In these cases NGOs and the implementing partners of the multilateral channel (UNHCR, WFP) take responsibility for the general food rations as well as supplementary and therapeutic feeding. In Sudan, with OLS agreement, responsibility for the general ration is with the GoS (OLS northern sector) or SRRA/RASS (OLS southern sector). In this legally binding arrangement it is assumed that GoS or SRRA/RASS will take on the equivalent of local administrative responsibilities. The Sudan arrangement restricts the humanitarian space in which INGOs can operate.

8.1 Restrictions on Humanitarian Space

The restriction of humanitarian space, addressed by the creation of OLS and the roles allotted to GoS, SRRA/RASS and the UN family, limits the range of humanitarian services offered by INGOs, a limitation added to by the need to obtain Government permission to fly, permissions which are frequently withheld. This becomes a limitation on services in the nutrition sector (supplementary and therapeutic feeding) and on the essential supplies of non-food materials.

WFP is responsible for providing the general food ration, which means that no NGOs are involved when local military and civilian authorities seize the ration from beneficiaries (see below §8.9.4 for a fuller account of this phenomenon). But this lack of control makes decisions to discharge individuals from specialized feeding programmes, run by INGOs or their local partners, when access to general ration and, therefore, full recovery, cannot be guaranteed, extremely problematic. Given the reality of Sudan, however, it is unlikely that INGOs have the logistical, personnel or material capacity to take management responsibility for the effective and efficient delivery of general food rations.

Of course, this limited humanitarian space, and range of service has direct consequences for beneficiaries. The orientation of a particular INGO allocated to an area affects the services available there. Rarely is the full range of services, e.g. food (including specialised feeding) non-food goods, health, water, veterinary services and agricultural rehabilitation (seeds, tools, ploughs) available. Geographic coverage is very variable.

8.2 Transport and Logistical Problems

All DEC agencies experienced transport and logistical difficulties. The WFP commanded the largest part of the OLS (southern sector) budget, although OLS leadership rested with UNICEF. WFP was unprepared for the severity and extent of the crisis. By the end of 1998, it had performed the largest airdrop in its history, doubling its capacity, which rose to some 13,000 Mt per month between May and August. DEC agency members of OLS southern sector continued to provide substantial human resources to OLS management. Oxfam provided general management, SCF provided analytical capacity for WFP’s food economy studies, CARE provided logistical capacity, especially at Lokichoggio, and World Vision increasingly provided storage management for strategic general rations in southern Sudan. Concern operated as a member of an informal peer group to help steer WFP operations and provided food monitors. There was, however, little other monitoring capacity available.

In the northern OLS and the Sudan Council of Churches routing, channels were subject to the wishes of the GoS. WFP appeared not to have particular difficulty with the food pipeline to Wau but was seriously stretched when populations started to return to the town. In Juba, major disagreements between Oxfam and WFP over population figures led to delays in responding to the crisis.

8.3 The Need to Strengthen OLS

Individually and collectively there was a willingness to strengthen OLS capacity, which DEC member agencies in Nairobi indicated had been run down by the donor community.

The donor community position was that:

i) peace negotiations were paramount;

ii) OLS had not responded to the 1996 OLS evaluation recommendations;

iii) the Sudan Consolidated Appeal (1998) exaggerated need (based on an inadequate statistical base) and was untargeted.

Both UNICEF, as OLS co-ordinator, and WFP reject parts (ii) and (iii) and argue that the essential problem is underfunding by the donor agencies.

INGO criticism of OLS also focuses on UNICEF’s relatively low level of technical expertise and experience in co-ordinating emergency response. UNICEF’s lack of capacity to conduct assessments, and to monitor and evaluate INGO programmes, leaves INGOs in a vacuum. OLS provides security for INGOs, access to OLS flights and meetings but, beyond that, OLS performance for INGOs is governed more by individual contact between actors rather than by structural agreements. Yet, despite these criticisms, it is difficult to envisage an alternative structure other than a loose consortium of INGOs. This would, however, have to deal with two critical, and interlinked, areas: the issue of neutrality and relationships with local partners in OLS. The neutrality issue is especially difficult with reference to the GoS and SRRA. Where SPLM/A is the authority, there is a move towards local administrations taking over power from SRRA. This further complicates local relationships.

Some INGOs in OLS therefore distance themselves, stressing the need for impartiality. Others pursue constructive engagement to reinforce humanitarian capacity - including INGOs beyond the OLS framework. Other INGOs are simply uncertain. None of this variety in response helps co-ordination. In the northern sector, INGOs are uncertain whether the room for manoeuvre allows effective humanitarian assistance. The issue of local partnerships in OLS also reflects similar tensions. Again, particularly with reference to SRRA, the lack of formal recognition means that it is difficult to build sufficient managerial and technical capacity to establish effective early warning systems, monitoring and evaluation control. Training for SRRA staff, which implies staff selection beyond traditional structures, is funded by non-OLS humanitarian assistance agencies who are members of the DEC.

It is not surprising, in this context, that the 1999 Assessment by OLS blames donors for a tardy response and regrets the lack of involvement by humanitarian agencies. Nor is it surprising that it emphasises UNICEF’s failure in its co-ordinating role, although SRRA concedes that the SRRA itself was deficient in co-ordination on the ground. Independent evaluations of donor performance and that of OLS itself are awaited.

What emerges from this analysis of OLS is that, for a variety of reasons, there is no significant alternative for the delivery of most humanitarian assistance. What also emerges is that, given the paucity of humanitarian assistance agencies under OLS, British DEC member agencies, either directly or through their international linkages, play a significant role in the OLS effort.

8.4 Non-OLS Interventions

Concern, whilst providing management support for OLS members, was outside both OLS and the church consortium.

8.5 Activities in South Sudan

In Lokichoggio, discussions focused on logistics and transport. DEC agencies involved in building logistical infrastructure in Kenya were strongly supported in the discussions because their work enhanced the ability of OLS to function in Sudan. Smaller DEC member agencies commented on the lack of storage capacity for non-food items. ICRC was criticised for not allowing other DEC member agencies access to its flights but, in turn, argued that its neutrality must be safeguarded.

In southern Sudan, the mission observed food and non-food distributors, but were not able to observe seed distribution. The quality of the commodities was high and distribution was monitored by the agencies. There was significant variation in the quality of the set up of sites, between and within DEC agencies. Therapeutic and supplementary feeding centres and associated health facilities were inspected, though they were now being converted to other uses.

8.6 Activities in Government of Sudan Controlled Areas

DEC agencies, despite severe practical difficulties, were effective in responding to the crisis in areas controlled by the Government of Sudan. Curfews, the restriction of movement, long delays in obtaining visas and travel permits, particularly for expatriates, all hampered quick responses. Agencies working with predominately Sudanese staff had more leverage. The UNHCU was self-critical of its role in not having a mandate to co-ordinate activities. It also felt that the lack of co-ordination between the northern and southern OLS sectors led to poor information on population movements, in particular following the major displacement from Wau in January 1998. Both UNICEF and WFP lacked capacity in the northern sector. Initial co-ordination between DEC member agencies appeared good but, with the large influx of INGOs, this deteriorated.

8.7 Advocacy

All the DEC agencies are actively advocating a peaceful solution to the present conflict in Sudan. In October, 1998, a number of DEC agencies presented a briefing to the Security Council highlighting issues concerning the war. This was an initiative taken by the agencies themselves and was not within the framework of the DEC.

Several DEC agencies led programmes on human rights issues and violations, such as slavery, are an extremely sensitive issue. DEC agencies are cautious in their approach to abuses because they cannot afford to upset the Government of Sudan

Peace is being negotiated between hitherto hostile ethnic groups in southern Sudan.

An understanding of the vulnerability of livelihood systems in Sudan is being developed.

8.8 Performance Standards

All DEC members subscribe to the Red Cross/NGO Code of Conduct, which specifies neutrality and impartiality in delivery. Several, but not all, agencies delivered programmes in both GoS controlled and non-GoS controlled areas. Impartiality infers delivering relief in accord with need, so that those in greatest need were prioritised. Normally accepted standards for provision of food, for example, prioritise under fives who are demonstrably malnourished, pregnant and nursing women. These standards were observed by DEC agencies, some of which also provided supplementary and intensive feeding for malnourished adults. The mission believes that the DEC agencies were impartial, bearing in mind their mandates. Help the Aged, for example, aids the aged, but uses transparent mechanisms to prioritises those in greatest need. Other agencies behaved in a comparable manner. All DEC agencies working through OLS and in southern Sudan, signed the Ground Rules Agreement (GRA), imposing rights and responsibilities on agencies and de facto administrations. In line with its established interpretation of neutrality, ICRC is not a signatory of the GRA.

8.9 Nutrition

The key issues that arise from the field relate largely to nutrition. In Sudan, DEC agencies were in an unusual position generated by the OLS structure. GoS, SRRA and NRRA were the direct implementing partners of WFP for general ration distribution; local government structures for famine prevention and relief are usual for response to natural disaster in stable states but unusual in chronic complex emergencies. As DEC agencies had little control over the general food ration, there was a certain reluctance by some agencies to be involved in feeding programmes.

8.9.1 General Ration

As the crisis escalated in May 1998, insufficient general ration was available; WFP produced food from other operations, including Kenya, leading to a shortfall in those programmes. Initially, general ration was calculated on 1,900 kcal per person per day rather than WHO recommended rates of 2,100 kcal per person per day. The food basket (carbohydrates, protein, fats, and vitamins/minerals) was not always delivered and there was reliance on single item carbohydrate delivery. UNICEF faced similar problems in sourcing and delivery of supplementary and therapeutic food leading some INGOs to source their own. Donor community criticism focused on WFP’s failure to target food delivery to northern Bahr el Ghazal: WFP and INGOs reply that a general distribution was necessary to prevent global famine.

8.9.2 Nutritional Surveys

Nutritional surveys for calculating requirements for general rations were very weak, patchy in coverage and used differing sampling frames and technical indicators. Promotion of a food economy model of southern Sudan, and an over-estimation of the importance of famine foods, failed to capture the evolution of the famine. While the food economy work is important to capture the system in steady state equilibrium, it is inapplicable to complex emergencies where the very function of war is to destroy that local economy. Reliance on individual presentation of under 5s to define famine conditions produced a situation where other data, such as socio-medical evidence of a rise in TB, was not used to map the evolution of the crisis.

8.9.3 Supplementary and Therapeutic Feeding

In supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes, some agencies visited in the field had modified the normal standards to respond to local conditions. This included standards of individual treatment and standards of delivery. For example, in several therapeutic feeding programmes, children were present for 12 rather than 24 hours and, for security reasons, their mothers were provided with food for feeding them at night. One therapeutic feeding centre exceeded the recommended norm of 100 persons. Problems also arose when individuals, usually children, received supplementary feeding, but their families were refused access to general rations from the supplementary feeding stations – a refusal that they found incomprehensible and unacceptable. The numbers of individual children without families who presented themselves to supplementary and therapeutic centres led to problems about the responsibility of the agencies for orphans after successful treatment. The policy in the Oxfam supplementary and therapeutic feeding centre at Agangrial had been to attempt to locate the child’s family or to find foster parents in the community. At the time of the field visit, only one unaccompanied child remained in the Agangrial feeding centre. Above all, there was a concern that nutritional targeting of the under 5s left, adults, except lactating and pregnant women, to face increased morbidity and mortality despite evidence in some areas of an over-provision of feeding centres for children.

8.9.4 Redistribution within Communities

Donors, UN agencies and some INGOs had difficulty in accepting a redistribution of the general ration at community level. Food was confiscated by local chiefs, after distribution, to pay tayeen, a community tax levied by the authorities including the military, what remained was then redistributed but not necessarily to those in greatest need. This may be because the community did not accept or distrusted the IDPs who came from Wau and other GoS areas. This dilution of general ration sometimes resulted in the most needy not receiving an adequate ration. The contrast between the local cultural practices, where kinship networks reinforce social cohesion at the expense of the individual weak member of the community, is an issue that, with both general ration and supplementary feeding, challenges humanitarian assistance focused on individual curative care of the weakest individual.

8.9.5 Other Provisions in Feeding Centres

The provision of parallel water, sanitation and health care facilities for feeding centres, the responsibility of UNICEF, was problematic although UNICEF was praised for its measles programme. In general, epidemics were avoided with the exception of an outbreak of shigella dysentery in August.

Non-food items were generally well received although some questions were raised about the quality of seed from Kenya and the appropriateness of some of the Kenyan tools. Mosquito nets were particularly appreciated.

8.10 Perceptions of the DEC

The DEC itself had little recognition in the field except as a funding source. This was true even of some people working for DEC agencies. Many agency employees commended the DEC for the fungibility, timeliness and flexibility of its funding. This comment seemed to relate particularly to the allocation mechanism. In a small number of cases, the six-month rule (which decrees that funds must be spent within that period) was mentioned by agency workers as somewhat irksome. The mission agreed with the more widely held view that the allocation mechanism is effective and efficient. It was strongly indicated by agency workers, and the mission agrees, that, in an unfolding disaster like Sudan, where famine peaked four months after the appeal, greater flexibility rather than rigid initial allocation of funds to agencies was appropriate. It was important to allow DEC agencies to respond to the unfolding disaster.

9.0 Efficiency

Table 7 contains consolidated accounts for all DEC expenditure. Of note are the following points:

  • The relatively low overall cost of transport, even though two agencies were involved. Transport costs for the Sudan airlift are high and, had they been met by the agencies, would have absorbed 80 per cent of the budget. However the figures reflect the fact that WFP provided free transport for OLS agencies. Transport charges were incurred by the independent agencies; that these are also low is explained by the relatively lighter weights of the food and non-food items that they were moving and which were not included in the general ration.
  • Labour and management costs for the DEC agencies have been kept very low.
  • The total exceeds released appeal funds indicating other sources for largely DEC funded projects.

Table 7 Total DEC Expenditure
Beneficiary Activities
A. Beneficiary Activities (1)
UK £ 2,845,954
B. Management Activities (2)
UK £ 2,045,554
Support Costs
C. Labour
UK£ 758,849
D. Subsistence allowances
UK £ 900,883
E. Other (unspecified budget lines)
UK £ 136,789
Agency Costs
F. Management Support
UK £ 115,420
Contingency Costs
G. Contingency
UK £ 41,265
TOTAL
UK £ 6,844,716

(1) Such as: provision of survival kits; fishing equipment; seeds and tools; general rations for Nuba Mountains; supplementary and therapeutic feeding.

(2) Such as: infrastructure repair and improvement; support for analytical and logistical capacities.

10.0 Effectiveness

Goods and services delivered by DEC agencies, with significant experience of Sudan crises, were appropriate in the light of local custom. Special mention can be made of the distribution of fishing gear, support for veterinary services and seed selection which demonstrated a sound knowledge of the local food economy. The tensions generated by the redistribution of food rations were beyond the control of member agencies. The limited access for families to food from supplementary feeding stations, in which their children were receiving treatment, created tension. Finally, WFP’s continued delivery of large quantities of food through November might have undermined the rate of return to the traditional food economy.

11.0 Lessons Learnt

The important lessons to be learnt are that:

11.1 DEC Performance

DEC agencies are mature in the handling of goods and services that address famine prevention and famine relief activities in complex emergencies.

11.2 Need for Collective DEC Responses

DEC agencies should agree on the nature of a crisis in complex emergencies, agree on data indicating its size and present a unified case to the media. As DEC appeals require close co-operation with the media, it is necessary at times, however contradictory this may seem to individual agency analysis, to maintain a collective DEC position.

11.3 Diversity in Response

DEC agencies were distinctly entrepreneurial in the use of DEC funds maximising the delivery of goods and services through a variety of routes.

11.4 Supplementary and Therapeutic Feeding

Some DEC agencies, in the delivery of supplementary and therapeutic feeding, were over or underwhelmed depending on their location and the range of goods and services they were able to offer. In some cases, recommended standards or practices were not followed largely because of circumstances beyond agency control. In such circumstances, it is important to record the process of decision making to justify change in standards or practice.

11.5 Management Activities

The DEC should try to make explicit the existing implicit management activities in complex emergencies, particularly of leading DEC agencies. This management capacity is a critical resource especially in the field.

11.6 The DEC as an Institution

The DEC itself requires a role beyond the appeal, including the provision of information summaries of DEC activities and monitoring on-going efforts. Without such a role, the DEC itself is likely to come under greater media scrutiny.

11.7 Evaluation of the DEC

Future evaluations should focus on the effectiveness and efficiency of DEC funded goods and services provided by member agencies. Although this requires looking at the performance of individual agencies. DEC evaluations should not be of the agencies per se.

12.0 Evaluation Conclusions

12.1 Size of the Emergency

It is difficult to estimate the size of the humanitarian response in Sudan last year. Current figures for OLS suggest a figure of USD 340 million should be used. SRRA estimated that INGOs in the southern sector brought in another USD 300 million. It is likely that an additional USD 300 million was spent in the northern sector, not least through Islamic humanitarian agencies. Almost USD 1 billion went into Sudan last year for a range of humanitarian programmes. The DEC monies represented about 1 per cent of the investment. This investment addressed the needs of 2.2 million people displaced by the war in southern Sudan. Estimates suggest that between 60,000 and 100,000 people died due to the emergency, who would not have died in more normal circumstances.

12.2 Differences in Knowledge and Opinion about the Emergency

In a messy situation, where there were differences of knowledge and opinion about the crisis and uncertainty, for example, about access among DEC members, international media helped increase public awareness of a Sudan crisis. That crisis was, in no small way, driven by lack of response to the 1997 UN Consolidated Appeal and significantly exacerbated by the increase in IDPs from continuing warfare in early 1998. Unsure of the actual situation, following the successful DEC Appeal, a range of programmes was put in place that largely emphasised famine prevention by DEC agencies. As the famine evolved, more attention was paid to famine relief.

Part of that messy situation was the lack of agreed statistics, the contradictory scale of data and the lack of accurate measurement of an emerging famine. Data issues are important, not least because they allow accurate targeting of beneficiaries. Without such accurate targeting data, interventions are generally supply side driven. Such supply side driven analysis is increasingly rejected by donor agencies that continue to provide most of the money for humanitarian assistance. In a chronic complex war situation, there is need to provide on-going assessments to capture any movement from chronic to acute need. This is especially true in the context of a DEC appeal where, as the appeal is linked to media access, it is problematic if the media are providing coverage of an emergency that some DEC agencies deny exists.

12.3 Project Planning Capacity

The 48-Hour and 4-Week Plans of Action, together with the OSC commentary on those plans, show a strong project planning capacity. This quality is not reflected to the same degree in final reporting by all member agencies, nor do the submitted accounts easily correlate with the six-month descriptors of activities by member agencies. It is also difficult to trace changes in activity between the 4-Week Plans of Action and delivery on the ground in the current reporting format. Most importantly there is no attempt to summarise individual project activities in an overall planning frame, based on the 4-Week Plans of Action, nor to summarise the overall impact of the activities from the seventh-month final reports. As a consequence, the evaluation team has to attempt this itself otherwise the evaluation becomes a series of anecdotal remarks about a wide range of activities produced by a wide range of member agencies across a wide range of professional inputs in a very large area. This would seem to indicate that a level of rethinking is needed about the DEC reportage and management of that reportage in the disaster appeal and response process.

12.4 Differing Interpretations of the Emergency

The DEC, however, has to address the important issue of assembling adequate data that is agreed by member agencies before launching an appeal. Inability to do so leaves the DEC, as an institution, vulnerable to attack from both the media and from other authorities such as the UK Government. It does not appear that the conflict between agencies within the DEC, over the initial call for an appeal, substantially reduced the level of public response to the DEC appeal in this instance.

The attack on the DEC process by the Secretary of State for International Development was poorly expressed. The broad issue that she wished to raise was one of the appropriateness of humanitarian assistance in a situation where the warring parties sought either to displace responsibility for that assistance to the international community (SPLA) or where the warring parties would not allow access to the affected population (GoS).

Throughout the evaluation process, the evaluation team have been conscious that the "back loaded" model chosen for the reorganised DEC by agencies restricts DEC management to the appeal process. This restriction to the appeal process makes the DEC itself vulnerable to criticism after an appeal has been made. There is relatively little information available at the DEC, and therefore from the DEC, to indicate how appeal monies are to be spent responding to the crisis. Some co-ordination of information is necessary so that the DEC can indicate the broad programme of investment that will be undertaken with the use of funds raised from the British public.

12.5 DEC Agency Perception of the DEC

The evaluation team has also been struck by the conflicting expectations of the DEC itself on the part of its agencies. Some agencies insist that the DEC is simply an umbrella fund-raising organisation, while others wish to move the DEC towards a more collective model of programme intervention. This is an issue that will have to be continually readdressed as the DEC itself, with increasing success in making appeals, takes on an institutional life of its own. The evaluation team has also noted the frequency with which the DEC Secretariat is accused of lack of professional emergency experience by DEC agencies while, at the same time, DEC agencies refused to fund such capacity. Again, as the DEC itself takes on an institutional life of its own by, for example, releasing evaluation reports, agencies who still seek to limit the capacity of the DEC Secretariat to the appeal process, will find themselves under public scrutiny for running a heavily controlled organisation where the agencies themselves are not really open to scrutiny.

The problem with the umbrella model of the DEC is that, while it celebrates the undoubted unique quality and achievement of the individual agencies, that very richness of experience can lead to conflict between agencies over appropriate responses. The umbrella structure also provides a level of management input from the agencies through the Executive Committee and the Operations and Media Sub Committees, which can appear to locate the source of the problem with the DEC itself rather than between the agencies of the DEC.

12.6 DEC Operations Sub-Committee

The evaluation team has been impressed by the increasing professionalism of the Operations Sub Committee although, again, this umbrella form of management and control of the post-appeal process is open to levels of conflict. In Sudan, the outcome of the agency proposals, with critical comments, where necessary, from OSC was a broad and appropriate range of welfare programmes, famine prevention interventions, livelihood system rehabilitation and levels of famine relief. On the evidence that they have seen it is the opinion of the evaluation team that comments by the OSC influenced the activities of some agencies. In future operations, such a balanced programme might not emerge. It is in the opinion of the evaluation team, appropriate for OSC, which has an overview of the proposed interventions, to be able to advise on and give a steer to achieve an appropriate overall programme. The late arrivals of the rain allowed the famine prevention strategy in particular localities to operate and probably helped prevent increasing morbidity and mortality among at least an additional 250,000. The emphasis on non-food items as well as food was necessary as the famine prevention strategy was generally contextualised within the framework of the household economy.

12.7 Support to OLS

On the ground, the larger DEC agencies provided substantial management input into those parts of the OLS structure where management capacity was significantly under-resourced. However, the very structure of OLS itself gave rise to problems, where, because of the initial low resourcing of WFP there was inadequate general ration and, even when it existed, it was beyond the control of DEC agencies. On the ground, the representatives of the agencies were extremely explicit in their self-critique of several issues concerning nutrition, including the lowering of standards to match the availability of food ration and the lack of linkage between the supplementary and therapeutic feeding programmes and general ration provision. Some DEC agencies were strongly critical of their Sudanese partners responsible for the provision of general ration. All parties on the ground agreed, particularly in the southern sector, that there was inadequate technical and managerial capacity available from Sudanese counterparts.

12.8 Value of DEC Funds

On the ground there was praise from staff of the agencies, and their partners, over the timeliness, fungibility and flexibility of DEC monies which fitted into existing programmes. There was concern that the formula for disbursing funds consolidated the leading positions of the larger DEC agencies and that more appeals would lead to even further consolidation. There was also concern that the rigidity of the formula which allocated monies immediately after the appeal did not allow scope for reassessment in the light of emerging need in an evolving famine. However, staff of the agencies pointed out that the rapidity of disbursement allowed a rapid build-up of experienced staff who were on the ground when the famine peaked in August 1998.

12.9 Specific Terms of Reference

Specifically, in response to the Terms of Reference, the ETC evaluation mission finds that:

12.9.1 The DEC planning process is strong on project activity but provides little sense of an overall policy or programme framework for intervention. As such, it can be interpreted as ad hoc investment around existing programmes. As noted in 12.6, there is an opportunity for the OSC to strengthen the cohesion of the DEC interventions because it is in the unique position of having an overview of the whole programme. Clearly the more detailed planning must be near the field level and clearly also it is not suggested that the OSC should instruct member agencies on the part they should take. The evaluators consider that the OSC could inform and guide participating agencies, collecting and distributing information on the scope for interventions both at the start of and during emergencies. This can strengthen and broaden existing working relations at field level, which are strong among agencies with a long presence, but are weaker for newer arrivals. Stronger guidance by the OSC would facilitate an assessment of the value of the overall investment. In the context of Sudan, it is difficult to provide an analysis of the process and content of each agency’s planning assessment because the assessments themselves are generalised and because they cover such a wide range of crisis conditions over a large area. If such comparison were to be done in the future, it should be a comparison of similar activities by agencies not the assessment process.

The degree of co-ordination was significantly higher in the field than at headquarters. Quite simply an implicit model of co-operation exists in the field. At headquarters, there is a stronger sense of competition, necessary to some degree as individual member agencies attempt to generate funds. In the Sudan case, on the ground, there was a significant degree of co-ordination within OLS of the larger DEC agencies and a willingness of the larger agencies to provide access for smaller DEC agencies. The larger DEC agencies missed an opportunity for turning their implicit roles into an explicit management role. It exists not just with reference to the disaster process itself but also to the advocacy process where they provide important leverage on the warring partners without maximising outcome.

Where models of good practice in planning and reporting existed, it was because DEC agencies used a modified form of logical planning frameworks (LPF). Although such project planning does not capture policy and programme issues, it does capture the link between expenditure and output of project activities. The evaluation team thinks that LPFs could usefully be adopted by all agencies particularly for finally reporting. Final reporting must also indicate why decisions were made between intended investment and actual investment including detailing the risks involved in changing investment programmes.

12.9.2 Assessments of beneficiaries were very broad, reflecting the lack of data. This is to be expected in war conditions where there is significant displacement of population.

For agencies involved in supplementary and therapeutic feeding there was little sharing of standardised criteria for measurement of malnutrition. The focus of malnutrition programmes, which was largely for children, gave less attention to adolescents and adults who are significantly at risk in war-related famine. On the ground, project staff of member agencies voiced serious concern over the inability to implement feeding programmes according to accepted professional standards and voiced concern that there was no assessment procedure that could hold all humanitarian assistance programmes to account. There was strong support for the SPHERE project, which many staff of member agencies thought might address the problems of standards but still left undetermined the issue of accountability.

Because of the continuing movement of population it was not possible to generate a sample of potential beneficiaries who might have been overlooked by DEC agencies. As interventions are place-specific and the population is not place-permanent, this is not surprising.

In the parallel study on beneficiaries it was noted that gender awareness in humanitarian assistance programmes is relatively low. The response of DEC member agency staff to beneficiary targeting was extremely practical. eyeballing the need for intervention was clearly the strongest targeting tool. Some DEC agencies had structural arrangements for targeting through partnerships with local structures; this provided for rapid intervention but was limited to the partnership structure. Several agencies conducted vulnerability workshops with local communities although this tended to be after the 4-Week Plans of Action. It would be preferable to hold such workshops before the 4-week Plan of Action so as to inform the preparation of these plans. If however, contingent circumstances occur after the 4-week Plan of Action has been formulated, it is appropriate to hold such workshops at a later time. Non-food items were particularly open to generalised assessment.

12.9.3 An effective division of labour existed from Nairobi/Khartoum to the field. Agency projects were appropriate in that they directly targeted displaced people, famine prevention and, in some cases, famine relief. There was no formal mechanism for INGO co-ordination except OLS, the church consortium and ICRC.

In the northern sector, co-ordination was facilitated through two forums the ‘Emergency Response Team’ in Khartoum and the ‘Emergency Working Group’ in Wau. The UN, INGOs and ICRC were involved in this process linking in with government authorities.

12.9.4 Most DEC agencies stayed close to the 4-Week Plans of Action. There was some change in partnerships, not adequately documented, and some under-performance because the number of beneficiaries were over-estimated or activities were not necessary. The evaluation team estimates that over 98 per cent of all planned activities were implemented. The activities, however, could not be described as a co-ordinated, planned programme of crisis intervention. The location of agency activity was central to its success but choice of location, especially for small member agencies, was not fundamentally under their own control.

12.9.5 While there is significant co-ordination on the ground it varies by place. In Nairobi, management co-ordination existed but in an implicit not an explicit manner. This was helped by the fact that agency staff had in many cases previously worked for the agencies with which they were co-ordinating activities. In Lokichoggio co-ordination was centred on practical issues of storage and flight access for personnel and goods - an informal network of shared opportunity. In southern Sudan, staff, rather than agency, tended to dovetail programmes to ensure complementarity of delivery to place-based programmes. The continuous interaction between personnel and agencies on a daily basis was clearly evident in the field visits. The DEC does not, as such, have a co-ordination function, in Nairobi, Khartoum and Wau though ad hoc working relationships exist between some DEC agencies.

12.9.6 Access to aircraft, an issue of availability and cost, was the dominant constraint in logistics. Floods made road transport impossible over extensive areas through much of the acute famine period. Political constraints, with new cease-fire agreements, allowed flights as requested but, especially in the northern sector, administrative constraints restricted travel movement.

DEC monies were used effectively, First, the targeting of famine prevention - reduced morbidity and mortality risk to at least 250,000 people. Second, the timely disbursement of that money allowed member agencies to put experienced staff in place who were available as famine spread more widely in northern Bahr el Ghazal; famine escalated but this intervention was not "cold start". Third, by charging other donors for the substantial transport costs, especially in OLS, and by minimising their own labour and agency costs, DEC agencies maximised the expenditure of funds generated from the British public to focus directly on the provision of supplies and services to beneficiaries.

12.9.7 All beneficiaries and partners responded positively to the use of DEC monies by member agencies but that is not surprising. What did receive extensive comment was the cultural clash between the social targeting of communities wanted by the beneficiaries and the individual targeting, especially in famine relief activities, of western intervention. The absence or late inclusions of adults and adolescents from targeted feeding programmes was raised. Gender and age were not a dominant issue of beneficiaries in DEC agencies.

Some activities impressed the mission as being particularly appropriate to the circumstances in Sudan at the time of the field visits. Their appropriateness in future emergencies would depend on the local circumstances at the particular phase of the emergency and the capacities of the agencies participating. Support to OLS was particularly necessary in early to mid 1998. This was because the UN agencies, particularly WFP, were threatened by the sudden intensification of need. The larger DEC agencies (details are provided in Annex 7) gave much needed support to the co-ordinating agencies. This support helped considerably in the analysis of the situation and in logistics. Technical personnel were seconded and transport and storage infrastructures were improved using DEC funds.

Second, the immediate availability of funds and the flexibility allowed through the back-loaded evaluation and the DEC planning framework allowed a response to the changing nature of the emergency. Some examples are: the response to the developing flood in Bor County, the decision to provide supplementary and intensive feeding for malnourished adults, the support for displaced people and former refugees in Tambura. In these cases the appropriateness was in the ability to respond quickly and to change plans. This is not to suggest that the activities undertaken were not in themselves well founded.

Third, the mission was impressed by the careful co-ordination of activities, where, for example, the same agency or different DEC agencies provided water supply and improved health facilities related to feeding centres. In some cases the water supply system was designed so that some water could be available for the general community and that even the spilled water could be used for irrigation. The speed of provision of the production line boreholes seen by the mission is to be commended in emergencies. Improvements in water supply, like improvements in support to health are valuable in emergencies, particularly where such facilities may be targeted and where there are big increases in demand locally, with the threat of disease. The lack of severe outbreaks of disease suggests that such programmes were effective. Both water and health service provision are developmental even if carried on in emergencies. Though the express intention of DEC investment was to provide help in emergencies it is a bonus that they provide a foundation for development.

Fourth, the information on agency activities gives examples of positive symbiotic (mutually beneficial) relations between larger agencies with a long-term presence and smaller newcomer agencies, also (as it happens) members of DEC. A facility or activity started by a larger agency is handed over to a smaller one, while the second agency benefits from various forms of help in establishing a presence. These forms of help are not unusual among NGOs but it is appropriate to see this form of relationship between DEC agencies, which are likely to work together in many future emergencies as a direction that DEC might seek to encourage.

12.9.8 Value-added of DEC monies to member agencies and their partners was:

  • timeliness which allowed an initial humanitarian presence by the agencies;
  • fungibility which allowed open selection of project activities in conjunction with partners;
  • flexibility which allowed change in planned expenditures before, and after, the 4-Week Plans of Action.
  • rapidity of disbursement which allowed famine prevention activities to be undertaken.

The evaluation team cannot realistically speculate on possible consequences if DEC funds, had not been available, not least because of the wide range of other monies available to DEC agencies and the wide range of humanitarian actions beyond the DEC agencies. The evaluation team estimated that the intervention directly lowered the morbidity and mortality risk of 250,000 people.

12.9.9 As famine escalated, and war continued, little assistance was long-term. Long-term contexts are appropriate to natural hazard response not complex emergencies.

12.9.10 DEC membership does not provide rules or guidelines for advocacy. While the DEC appeal specifically mentioned the importance of the peace process, co-ordination between agencies on advocacy was an ad hoc process. Peace advocacy was driven by the larger DEC member agencies but outside of the DEC framework.

The very process of the DEC appeal itself, and the reinforced capacity of member agencies on the ground, contributed to a sense of advocacy about the need for humanitarian assistance in Sudan although this was largely media driven.

By action, some DEC agencies targeted populations omitted from humanitarian agreement (Nuba Mountains), local peace initiatives on human rights issues. The locus of advocacy action was not, however, DEC focused.

In conclusion, the evaluation team finds the DEC, and its member agencies, professional and transparent. It finds the use of DEC monies to be effective, not least because it maximised the use of funds raised from the British public to ensure rapid delivery of humanitarian supplies and services to Sudan.