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 =A3 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.
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