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Did the Rwandan Evaluation Change anything?

A report by the Joint Evaluation Follow-up Monitoring and Facilitation Network (JEFF)

The speed of onset and scale of the Great Lakes emergency which unfolded in April 1994 leading to genocide and internal displacement in Rwanda and massive refugee displacements to Zaire and Tanzania presented one of the greatest challenges the humanitarian aid community has ever had to face. Recognising the unprecedented nature of this emergency and the humanitarian response, governments were eager to learn as many lessons as possible from the events of 1994 and 1995. A Joint Evaluation of Emergency Assistance to Rwanda was therefore undertaken and funded by numerous governments. The final report was launched in March 1996. This multi-donor funded evaluation of an emergency and subsequent response was the largest of its type ever under-taken. The evaluation had four components and was published in four separate studies;

- an account of the history of the Great Lakes Region - study 1

- a study of the genocide in Rwanda - study 2

- an evaluation of the humanitarian response to the emergency in Zaire, Tanzania and Rwanda - study 3

- an evaluation of the rehabilitation initiatives in the region - study 4

The main findings of the four studies were summarised in a synthesis report which contained no less than 64 recommendations These recommendations varied enormously in range. For example, there were specific recommendations aimed at ensuring; more effective prevention and suppression of genocide, more effective conflict early warning systems, and greater accountability of humanitarian agencies. A number of the recommendations in the synthesis report were influenced by certain findings in study 3 regarding the provision of food and nutrition support to refugee and IDPs . The food and nutrition section of study 3 singled out;
- inappropriate ration planning,
- inequity of food distribution systems and
- inefficient selective feeding programmes as the main problems in this sector of intervention.

These difficulties were then related to a set of underlying factors including:
- failure of agency institutional memory,
- poor co-operation and co-ordination between relief agencies,
- lack of consensus between agencies over programme design, and
- shortage of suitably qualified technical staff on the ground.

The recommendations in the synthesis report which were most directly related to problems in the food and nutrition sector were those on:
- strengthening co-ordination amongst agencies,
- improving humanitarian agency performance,
- introducing accreditation systems for humanitarian agencies and
- obtaining agreement on optimal food distribution systems at agency level.

A Joint Evaluation Follow-up Monitoring and Facilitation Network (JEFF) was formed in May 1996. This network was set up to follow up progress arising out of the evaluation recommendations. JEFF recently finalised a report which reviewed the follow-up and impact of the Rwandan evaluation fifteen months after its publication.

This in itself is unusual as evaluations so often are left to gather dust on shelves of commissioning agencies. The JEFF report makes fascinating reading and while taking pains to acknowledge that progress and implementation of recommendations made in the Rwandan evaluation cannot be fully attributed to the evaluation, holds that there are grounds for attributing many initiative at least partly to the joint evaluation.

The JEFF report estimates that at least two thirds of the recommendations have had at least some positive outcome (see table below) but also expresses concern that 11% of recommendations have not been formally discussed or raised by those agencies to whom the recommendations are directed. Most of these unaddressed recommendations are to do with 'Fostering Policy Coherence in the UN Security Council Secretariat and General Assembly and Early Suppression of Genocide'.

Category No. of Recommendations Proportion of Total Recommendations
A Not formally discussed/raised by recommendation addresses 7 11%
B Formally discussed by recommendation addresses 4 6%
C Formally discussed but no resolutions or action 11 17%
D Formally discussed and resolution reached or action taken 24 37%
A/D 4 6%
C/D 14 22%

Copies of the multi-donor evaluation of the Great Lakes Emergency and the JEFF report can be obtained from Helen Awan, ODI, London, Fax 44 8698 5610, e-mail: h.awan@odi.org.uk.

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Did the Rwandan Evaluation Change anything?. Field Exchange 4, June 1998. p28. www.ennonline.net/fex/4/anything

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