Evaluating Response and Impact

Humanitarian Impact Assessment, Evaluation & Monitoring:

 Did the humanitarian initiative have an expected impact? Were there unexpected impacts? Did the initiative impacted negatively? Did the impacts made people feel better?. Impact assessment should answer these questions. Answers from the question will help organizations, replicate, modify or scale up their actions.  According to International Association of Impact Assessment (IAIA), Impact assessment  is a structured a process for considering the implications, for people and their environment, of proposed actions while there is still an opportunity to modify (or even, if appropriate, abandon) the proposals. It is applied at all levels of decision-making, from policies to specific projects.

Impact Assessment becomes more credible and accurate when it done in a participatory process with target communities. Participatory impact assessment  engages people and communities in assessing the actual impact of project interventions on lives of people. The process involves the identification and characterisation of the most likely impacts of proposed actions (impact prediction/forecasting), and an assessment of the social significance of those impacts (impact evaluation).
Impact Assessment helps in  decision-making, transparency and improving actions for better results.

Humanitarian impact assessment and evaluation should combine qualitative and quantitative methods, should be based on a clear understanding of target communities and what was promised to them, identify the changes occurred and not occurred as a result of the project, collect evidences from different set of individuals, families and communities, having different power equations with in the community and perspectives of observers who may not have a stake in this initiative. The process of Impact assessment should have a clear delegation of roles between members, should have a clear time frame, clear agreement with people about time and duration of discussions, create conducive environment for different category of people to speak, necessary privacy and confidentiality if needed for women and special groups with in a community.

Good Enough Guide for Impact Assessment produced by Oxfam along with other agencies recommend following considerations in doing impact assessment: What is the background of the affected group(s)? What is the approximate number of people affected and their demographic characteristics?   Who are the marginalised/separated people in this population group (for example, female-headed house holds, unaccompanied children, disabled, sick, elderly, ethnic minorities, etc.). Do they have specific needs? How have they been affected by the current crisis?  Are there particular family, ethnic, religious, or other groupings among the affected people? Are any groups particularly hard to access? Who are the key people to contact/consult? Are there any community members or elders leading the people affected by the emergency? Are there organisations with local expertise (for example, churches, mosques, or local NGOs) that can be part of decision-making?  What are the biggest risks, in terms of health and protection against violence, faced by the various groups of people affected by this emergency and what agency is addressing them. The actions decided as a follow up to Impact assessment should be monitored by a formal committees or agencies established  or by institutionalized community groups to take the humanitarian initiative to its logical conclusion.

Key Message: A humanitarian initiative that doesn’t include a plan for monitoring, evaluation, impact assessment and a follow up action can be seen by the public as a non transparent and suspicious activity.

Disclaimer:This article is a reflection of author’s personal thoughts, and all rights reserved by SAFE CITIZEN.ORG

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