An evaluation is commissioned by the DEC following every appeal. They are surveys on the basis of short field missions conducted by independent consultants. The conclusion of the interim evaluation report which covers the first year of the Tsunami is that the overall work of the DEC agencies has been impressive, and that there are some areas to work on.
Full Evaluations are commissioned at the end of an appeal's expenditure period and because DEC members are committed to learning about the effectiveness of their work and accounting publicly for it. We therefore welcome this tsunami interim evaluation report.
This is the biggest and most destructive disaster that the aid community has ever faced. Clearly not everything is going to run smoothly and there is always going to be room for improvement.
Specific suggestions have been made to help inform how we can work better. The provision of shelter is one. The aftermath of any natural disaster is chaotic and, as the report acknowledges, in hindsight the transition from relief to reconstruction may have been more effectively managed by governments and UN agencies had the complex situation on the ground been different. Considerable improvements have been made in the provision of temporary shelter.
Notwithstanding criticisms in the report, much has been achieved in response to what was an unprecedented natural disaster. The report confirms that the response by member agencies was “impressive”, including that DEC members achieved higher standards and have shown more good practice than most non-DEC agencies. It also points to the following:
The DEC’s contribution to rebuilding houses is satisfactory at this stage
No DEC member has fallen below the general standard and each has shown excellence in one activity or another.
- Rapid and extensive provision of appropriate relief items.
- Effective use of cash-for-work schemes eg clearing debris
- Timely and extensive provision of livelihood support.
- Sensitivity to marginalised groups (eg women, the elderly, ethnic groups)
- Beneficiary surveys indicate a high level of satisfaction with initial relief inputs
One year on, over one-third of the money donated to the DEC has been spent. DEC members plan to spend up to £190 million in 2006, this will include more than 20,000 permanent houses, which will house around 100,000 men, women and children. A major focus will also be livelihoods.
The British public should be clear about two things. Firstly that the money they generously gave has been used to save the lives of many thousands and improve the lives of millions, and secondly that the DEC agencies will not shy away from learning and acting on the lessons of this report.