Evaluation of Humanitarian Action: A Pilot Guide

Now available at the ALNAP website

“The Evaluating Humanitarian Action Guide supports evaluation specialists and non-specialists in every stage of an evaluation, from initial decision to final dissemination.

Here are six reasons we think it’s time for a comprehensive EHA guide:
1. Official donor assistance for humanitarian action has increased  nearly six times in real terms from 1990 to 2011.
2. More interest and investment in evaluations as concerns are raised about effectiveness of development aid and humanitarian relief.
3. A critical mass of collective knowledge now exists to build on – ALNAP’s evaluation database alone contains over 500 covering the last decade.
4. Commissioning of evaluations has shifted from agency headquarters  to field-based staff as agencies decentralise – yet field-based managers often have little experience in planning and managing evaluations, especially EHA.
5. Little evidence that evaluation results lead to change of, or reflection on, policy and practice – better designed evaluations could provide more compelling evidence for policy change and promote utilisation.
6. The demand for guidance on EHA is growing – a Humanitarian Practice  Network member survey in 2009 found that the number one guidance material requests were for EHA.

This ALNAP guide provides practical and comprehensive guidance and good practice examples to those planning, designing, carrying  out, and using evaluations of humanitarian action.
The focus is on utilisation: to encourage you to consider how to ensure from the outset that an evaluation will be used.
This guide attempts to support high-quality evaluations that contribute to improved performance by providing the best evidence possible of what is working well, what is not, and why. The ultimate goal is to better meet the needs of people affected by humanitarian crises, who will be referred to throughout this guide as the affected population.”

Common Needs Assessments and humanitarian action

by Richard Garfield, with Courtney Blake, Patrice Chatainger and Sandie Walton-Ellery. HPN Network Paper No.69, January 2011

“Five years ago, the field of needs assessments resembled a tower of Babel. Each agency had its own unproven survey forms and made their own assessments based on little field-based information. At times there was little discussion between agencies about what constituted the major needs and the best response monitoring approach in a particular emergency.

Funds for emergency humanitarian action have doubled each decade during the last 30 years. Meanwhile, the Good Humanitarian Donorship initiative and humanitarian reform call for greater accountability and effectiveness on the basis of evidence. Without assessing the needs of those affected more accurately, accountability and effectiveness will not be possible. But assessments are often completed far too late, and provide far too little useful information, to guide funding decisions or provide a comparative base for monitoring during recovery. At its best, a common inter-agency, inter-sectoral needs assessment helps to develop a better joint understanding of needs, capabilities, and appropriate response.

Network Paper 69 summarises the basic characteristics of a Common Needs Assessment (CNA), reviews experience in using assessments in recent years and highlights the problems encountered. This paper demonstrates what CNAs can achieve, details their limitations and provides an overview of steps to address common problems.  It hopes to produce better, more useful and more timely assessments, contributing to improved humanitarian response.”

Participatory Impact Assessment: A guide for practitioners

Andrew Catley – John Burns – Dawit Abebe – Omeno Suji, Feintein International Centre, Tufts University, 2008. Available as pdf

“Purpose of this guide

The Feinstein International Center has been developing and adapting participatory approaches to measure the impact of livelihoods based interventions since the early nineties. Drawing upon this experience, this guide aims to provide practitioners with a broad framework for carrying out project level Participatory Impact Assessments (PIA) of livelihoods interventions in the humanitarian sector. Other than in some health, nutrition, and water interventions in which indicators of project performance should relate to international standards, for many interventions there are no ‘gold standards’ for measuring project impact. For example, the Sphere handbook has no clear standards for food security or livelihoods interventions. This guide aims to bridge this gap by outlining a tried and tested approach to measuring the impact of livelihoods projects. The guide does not attempt to provide a set of standards or indicators or blueprint for impact assessment, but a broad and flexible framework which can be adapted to different contexts and project interventions.

Consistent with this, the proposed framework does not aim to provide a rigid or detailed step by step formula, or set of tools to carry out project impact assessments, but describes an eight stage approach, and presents examples of tools which may be adapted to different contexts. One of the  objectives of the guide is to demonstrate how PIA can be used to overcome some of the inherent weaknesses in conventional humanitarian monitoring evaluation and impact assessment approaches, such as; the emphasis on measuring process as opposed to real impact, the emphasis on external as opposed to community based indicators of impact, and how to overcome the issue of weak or non-existent baselines. The guide also aims to demonstrate and provide examples of how participatory methods can be used to overcome the challenge of attributing impact or change to actual project activities. The guide will also demonstrate how data collected from the systematic use of participatory tools can be presented numerically, and can give representative results and provide evidence based data on project impact.

Objectives of the Guide

1. Provide a framework for assessing the impact of livelihoods interventions

2. Clarify the differences between measuring process and real impact

3. Demonstrate how PIA can be used to measure the impact of different projects in different contexts using community identified impact indicators

4. Demonstrate how participatory methods can be used to measure impact where no baseline data exists

5. Demonstrate how participatory methods can be used to attribute impact to a project

6. Demonstrate how qualitative data from participatory tools can be systematically”

Joint Humanitarian Impact Evaluation: Report on consultations

Report for the Inter-Agency Working Group on Joint Humanitarian Impact
. Tony Beck  January 2011

” Background and purpose

Since the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition there have been ongoing discussions concerning mainstreaming joint impact evaluation within the humanitarian system. With pressure to demonstrate that results are being achieved by humanitarian action, the question has arisen as to whether and how evaluations can take place that will assess joint impact. An Inter-Agency Working Group was established in November 2009 to manage and facilitate consultations on the potential of Joint Humanitarian Impact Evaluation (JHIE). It was agreed to hold a series of consultations between February and November 2010 to define feasible approaches to joint impact evaluation in humanitarian action, which might subsequently be piloted in one to two humanitarian contexts.

Consultations were held with a representative cross section of humanitarian actors: the affected population in 15 communities in Sudan, Bangladesh and Haiti, and local government and local NGOs in the same countries; with national government and international humanitarian actors in Haiti and Bangladesh; and with 67 international humanitarian actors, donors, and evaluators in New York, Rome, Geneva, London and Washington. This is perhaps the most systematic attempt to consult with the affected population during the design phase of a major evaluative exercise. This report details the results from the consultations.”

Results, risk assessment and management in development cooperation – Towards a Common Approach

Date: 25 – 26 November 2010
Venue: Nordatlantens Brygge, Strandgade 91, Copenhagen

(From ODI website)

The conference is organised by the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and co-hosted by The Humanitarian Policy Group at the Overseas Development Institute and the OECD/DAC International Network on Conflict and Fragility (INCAF).

Development cooperation is political in nature. This is particularly true in high-risk environments, where engagement impacts the behaviours, priorities, influence and power of different groups. High-risk environments could provide tremendous opportunities to deliver positive results, as long as international actors are prepared to take informed political and programmatic risks to facilitate the necessary change. However, current approaches are not always appropriate given the nature of the contexts concerned. There is also a difference between situations of fragility, humanitarian crises, or in other development contexts. Hence, risk analysis needs to take into account the specificities of each situation.

The international community lacks a concerted and agreed upon way to manage and mitigate risks. This conference will take stock on where we are now and what could be the path forward, and come up with a set of practical recommendations.

At the conference, key note speakers representing prominent international actors will discuss how they deal with risk and results management and participants will be provided with an opportunity to discuss lessons learnt from different country contexts in a set of work-shops and, looking ahead, suggest practical recommendations for follow up.

For further information regarding the conference, please click here.

To register please send your contact details to: riskconf@um.dk.  Please indicate which of the three working groups you would like to participate in. Deadline for registration is November 5, 2010.”

trainings in Evaluation of Humanitarian Action

Date: 14-16 June, 2010 and 17-18 June, 2010
Venue: near Brussels

Evaluation of Humanitarian Action with ALNAP (Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action)

14-16 June, 2010

This course is an introductory-to- intermediate level course and has the overall aim of making evaluations of humanitarian action more effective in contributing to the improved performance of interventions and to improve the quality of the evaluation process. This 3-day training course is based on an update of the ALNAP training modules. The course will also introduce some new material, specifically:

  • on joint evaluations: the rationale, experience and learning to date, interwoven throughout the training programme
  • on evaluating policy as well as projects and programmes
  • on innovative learning processes as part of the evaluation process.

Continue reading “trainings in Evaluation of Humanitarian Action”

Training: Evaluation of Humanitarian Action

Date: 9-13 November 2009
Venue: Belgium

Channel Research wish to draw your attention to two forthcoming coming courses in Evaluation of Humanitarian Action, using materials developed in collaboration with ALNAP. These courses will take place in Belgium on the following dates:

9-11 November 2009 (introductory- to intermediate level)

12-13 November 2009 (advanced level)

Full details including application forms can be found by clicking on the above links.

For any further information, please contact Maria Bak on bak@channelresearch.com

Please do not hesitate to forward this information to your network

Maria Bak,

Knowledge Manager, Channel Research , 45 Route des Marnières, 1380 Lasne, Belgium, Tel: +32 2 633 6529, Fax: +32 2 633 3092 , Mobile: +32 (0) 473 12 36 23, Skype: maria_bbak, mail: bak@channelresearch.com, www.channelresearch.com

trainings in Evaluation of Humanitarian Action

Date: 9-11 November 2009
Venue: Brussels

9-11 November 2009 (introductory- to intermediate level) & 12-13 November 2009 (advanced level)

Evaluation of Humanitarian Action with ALNAP (Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance in Humanitarian Action)

9-11 November 2009

This course is an introductory-to- intermediate level course and has the overall aim of making evaluations of humanitarian action more effective in contributing to the improved performance of interventions and to improve the quality of the evaluation process. This 3-day training course is based on an update of the ALNAP training modules. The course will also introduce some new material, specifically:
Continue reading “trainings in Evaluation of Humanitarian Action”

ALNAP 8th Review of Humanitarian Action

The ALNAP Review of Humanitarian Action series aims to advance analysis and understanding of key trends and issues relating to humanitarian learning and accountability as a means of supporting improvement in sector-wide performance. The 8th Review contains three in-depth studies:

Chapter 1: Counting what counts: performance and effectiveness in the humanitarian sector [http://www.alnap.org/pool/files/8rhach1.pdf

Chapter 2: Improving humanitarian impact assessment: bridging theory and practice [http://www.alnap.org/pool/files/8rhach2.pdf]

Chapter 3: Innovations in International humanitarian action [http://www.alnap.org/pool/files/8rhach3.pdf

The first study is on humanitarian performance and provides a wide-ranging overview of the performance agenda – at the heart of ALNAP’s work – drawing on experiences from the private, public and development sectors. The second study focuses on improving humanitarian impact assessment, and provides a comprehensive framework to help bridge theory and practice in operational settings. The third study is a systematic review of innovations in international humanitarian response, which presents ways to think about and strengthen innovations across the sector.

Key Messages from ALNAP’s Eighth Review of Humanitarian Action: [http://www.alnap.org/pool/files/8rhakm-eng.pdf
Key messages in French and Spanish will be available shortly.

Training in Evaluation of Humanitarian Action

Date: 21st-24th June 2009
Venue: Belgium

Channel Research and the Active Learning Network for Accountability and Performance (ALNAP) are inviting participants for Training in Evaluation of Humanitarian Action, Belgium, 21st-24th June 2009 (actual training dates 22nd-24th June 2009).

This course is an introductory-to-intermediate level course and has the overall aim of assisting participants in the design of monitoring systems, and to be able to commission, manage, carry out and use small scale evaluations in humanitarian action. This 3-day training course will use the OECD-DAC evaluation criteria but also introduces new evaluation material specifically on joint evaluations and innovative learning processes as part of an evaluation process.

Continue reading “Training in Evaluation of Humanitarian Action”

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