Tsunami Evaluation Coalition

Tsunami Evaluation Coalition

The Tsunami Evaluation Coalition (TEC) [http://www.alnap.org/tec] is a unique learning and accountability initiative in the relief and development sector. It was first established in February 2005 to carry out joint evaluations of the response to the Asian earthquake and tsunamis of 26 December 2004.

The TEC now has over 50 member agencies from the United Nations, Donors, Non-Governmental Organisations and the Red Cross. These organisations have been working together since the TEC was established to: ;*To improve policy and practice in the relief and rehabilitation sector.;*To provide some accountability to both the donor and recipient public.;*To improve evaluation in the relief and rehabilitation sector by learning from the TEC process itself.

Need for evaluation

Evaluation is needed in humanitarian aid to maintain the quality of the response, as there is no commercial feedback mechanism as with running a business, or direct political feedback as with running local services. Evaluation helps to provide aid managers and policy-makers with feedback on how well the whole humanitarian system is doing.

The TEC is the most significant evaluation effort in the humanitarian sector since the Joint Evaluation [http://www.um.dk/Publikationer/Danida/English/Evaluations/RwandaExperience/index.asp] of the response to the Rwanda Crisis in 1994, and follows in the footsteps of Study 3 [http://www.um.dk/Publikationer/Danida/English/Evaluations/RwandaExperience/b3/book3.asp] of that evaluation which examined humanitarian aid and its effects.


The TEC is guided by a Core Management Group of about 15 members and hosted by the ALNAP [http://www.alnap.org] Secretariat in London. The Secretariat is responsible for managing the day to day operations of the TEC under the direction of the Core Management Group. Participating agencies work within a framework that encourages sharing of information, lesson learning, accountability, and mutual support and transparency.

Each of the TEC thematic evaluations is separately managed by its commission agency or agencies and the steering committee for that evaluation.

Thematic Evaluations

TEC members have commissioned five different thematic studies. The topics of the studies were chosen on the basis that they were topics that would particularly benefit from a joint evaluation. The five thematic evaluation are all independent, and have been carried out by independent consultants.

The five thematic evaluations carried out field work in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, the Maldives, Somalia, and Donor capitals from September to November 2005. Their reports will be published together with the main synthesis report in July 2006. These five thematic reports cover:

;*Needs Assessment;*The Impact on Local and National Capacities;*The Linkages with Relief, Rehabiltation, and Development;*Coordination;*The Donor Response

Terms of Reference for each of these evaluations can be found on the TEC website [http://www.alnap.org/tec] .

The six initial findings

The TEC published an initial findings report [http://www.alnap.org/tec/pdf/TEC_initial_report_20051223_finalversion.pdf] in December 2005. These are preliminary findings based on initial reports from the more that fifty consultants involved in the field-work. It is expected that the final synthesis report will focus more on policy issues in the sector.

=Relief was effective= The relief phase was effective in ensuring that the immediate survival needs were met, through a mixture of local assistance in the immediate aftermath and international assistance in the first weeks after the disaster. However, these relief responses were generally not based on joint needs assessments and were not well coordinated, leading to an excess of some interventions such as medical teams, alongside shortages in less accessible areas or less popular sectors such as water supply.

=Unprecedented response= The scale of the generous public response was unprecedented, not only in the amount of money raised (about $14 billion internationally) but also in the proportion of funding from the general public, and the speed with which money was pledged or donated. The scale of the funding allowed an early shift to rehabilitation and the use of cash assistance programmes. It also acted as a giant lens, highlighting many of the existing problems in humanitarian response systems. The scale of funding also created coordination problems as it increased the number of agencies while removing some of the normal incentives for agencies to engage with coordination mechanisms.

Local capacity underestimated

Although local capacity is key to saving lives, this capacity is underestimated and undervalued by the international aid community as well as being overlooked by the international media. International agencies did not engage sufficiently with local actors, and assessed the skills of local actors relative to those of their own agency rather than in terms of skills appropriate to the local context.

Capacity of the humanitarian system is limited

The capacity of the international humanitarian system is not infinitely elastic. Despite the generous response to the tsunami, the appeals-based system for funding humanitarian emergencies is flawed, with a pattern of under-funding humanitarian response in general. This pattern of low funding for most emergencies limits the development of capacity within the international aid system, and makes it difficult for the system to scale-up to respond appropriately to a large emergency such as this.

Agencies focus too much on "brand" promotion=

Agencies focus too much on promoting their brand and not enough on the needs of the affected populations. Agencies are still not transparent or accountable enough to the people they are trying to assist. In some cases agencies are also not sufficiently accountable to those providing the funding.

Recovery is proving far more difficult than relief

The recovery phase is proving a far bigger challenge than the relief phase. This is due in part to the greater complexity of recovery and to the demands that such complexity places on the aid agencies.

ee also

*Humanitarian response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
*2004 Indian Ocean earthquake
*Program Evaluation

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