ALNAP: The launch of the State of the Humanitarian System report 2012

4 July 2012

The fourth of July is not only American Independence Day, but also the day that I represented Evidence Aid at the launch of the State of the Humanitarian System report 2012. The event went well and was very well attended. The new report is the first attempt by the international humanitarian community to systematically monitor and report on its progress and performance, which assessed against measures broadly framed around six OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) criteria: coverage/sufficiency, relevance/appropriateness, effectiveness, connectedness, efficiency and coherence.

Of particular importance to Evidence Aid are the sections on effectiveness, in which the report assesses how well humanitarian responses met their objectives, how quickly the system was able to respond to emergencies, how well it monitored and evaluated the work, the quality of leadership and the competence of co-ordination efforts. The report describes a mixed picture for the effectiveness of the humanitarian system. Project goals or international standards were largely met, but leadership and timeliness was lacking.

Overall, the report shows where progress has been made (especially in the inclusion of national disaster management authorities, southern NGOs, and accountability to beneficiaries) and identifies areas for improvement such as the lack of strong leadership which undermines the effectiveness of many operations.

Paradoxically, a significant number of evaluations concluded that interventions were appropriate to the needs of recipient communities but a field-based survey of aid recipients undertaken for the report found that two-thirds of the respondents said they were dissatisfied or only partially satisfied with the amount and quality of the overall package of assistance they had received.

Regrettably, there was no information on the promotion of best practices in disasters using available evidence. This was highlighted as one of the major limitations of the report by John Mitchell from the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action (ALNAP).

The full report can be accessed here.