Evidence in donor coordination: Afghanistan (Raseema Alam, consultant)


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  • Good Morning Everyone. I am so pleased to be here. I hope that I can provide you with the message that donors need evidence to make decisions. I am going to end the mystery right there. I agree with what Joanna previously said and will use Afghanistan as a case study. I want to speak specifically about how the donors coordinated efforts during emergencies.
  • The context in Afghanistan is complex as you can imagine. There is the donor situation which almost 1 Billion spent annually. About ¾ Big donors with similar and diverse portfolios. Total number of donors in this sector are about 10 -12. 2011 was a transformative year as they were many factors influencing decisions such as decreasing budgets, changing political climates , extreme decsion and funding delays and leaving huge funding gaps. This was a time to show leadership and direction in the humanitarian sector when governments were trying to normalize budgets in Afghanistan. But there were some donors who were increasing their funds to Afghanistan – UK, Norway, Swiss and Germany while most were cutting theirs. And Humanitarian Assistance was no different. The humanitarian situation was equally as complex. Here are the facts you need to know about Afghanistan: 169 natural events a year from earthquakes, flood, drought, extreme cold and snow melt. There were also very complex protection issues with night raids and IDPs. I can speak for myself at CIDA and my priorities and concerns were: I needed to communicate effectively to Ottawa and ensure that there was one consistent stories. We didn’t need two different stories. Where should be Canadian resources be allocated for an effective and accountable use that would be targeted to specific needs? Who is doing what and where? When?How could I use our research fund to support decision making? And what could I learn from my colleagues from the embassies and how could we collaborate ? Would we agree on issues and priorities?How would we work together?I needed their input for triangulation, cooperation and aid effectiveness. I needed them because many of them had been in the country longer and more experience with emergencies. This presentation may seem like a lesson in management specifically in humanitarian assistance. What I want to stress is that this was a journey. Again, I want to reiterate some of the lessons at the beginning: to establish priorities, establish which key information pieces would be our informants and map out solutions. This is how we would make our decisions.
  • I wanted to dedicate one slide to our guiding principles. When we first met, I really felt that we were lucky. Everyone got along. We had the right people to do the right work. But this frank discussion on our concerns led us to share our guiding principles. We had similar working styles and a commitment to humanitarian action. We also realized that sharing our information was important for aid effectiveness. Our next step was to put this into action which would take many months – and we stumbled on the way but we did it together.
  • So this is what we looked like. The second photo is actually the planning session designing the HA portfolio for CIDA.
  • I have some experience working in facilitation and I led the first few meetings. We made our meetings more regular, focused and result oriented. The resources which were available to us were: cluster information, the security reports from ANSO (Afghan NGO safety office) and ISAF reports. The other added challenge and opportunity was each of these countries had a PRT with an officer assigned to humanitarian or crisis management. How did this affect accuracy of information? How did this affect decision making by reporting lines? Collecting information: what types and meeting schedules
  • The initial members for this group were:Canada, US, EU, DFID, SIDA, SDC, Norway and DenmarkThe first initial meetings we had mapped out the priorities for the group and each donor:Some early conclusions were that we had many of the same priorities and were committed to humanitarian principles, Paris declaration and delivering aid to the most vulnerable. Meetings:We agreed to meet bi-monthly.We agreed to meet for 3 hours – one hour for OCHA and one hour for a presentation by a cluster sector head; We agreed to an agenda beforehand which was circulated among donors; with OCHA setting their own agenda We also agreed to attend the Humanitarian Coordination meeting chaired by the HC; this was a rotating responsibility decided democraticallyThe initial goals were to :Collect and share information in order to make decisions about crisis and allocation of resourcesOCHA cluster meetings were attended and any findings were shared to the groupWe also divided and conquered in terms of meetings if we could as many of us were managing multiple portfoliosWho was going to manage the information and meetings? What classifies as an emergency to a donor? What kind? Were the OCHA cluster reports enough or was important to triangulate the information What kind of reports were acceptable?What did we do in cases of conflicting information – e.g. droughtHow would we treat accounts from the PRTs? And from the regional offices in Mazar, Kandahar, Helmand?
  • I love spreadsheets and I developed this one. Other input and we changed it constantly.
  • In May 2011, the donor community was faced with was a drought. And the drought had two visible effects. The lack of water did not allow for the wheat seeds to germinate for harvest in May/June. The related issue is that there is no system of irrigation. And the second visible problem was that the water tables were not replenished leaving no drinking water from the wells. There were reports that there was no drinking water and water tankering had begun. They key questions were: how many potential people might go hungry, when would the pressure from ISAF to use humanitarian aid to prevent further conflicts begin and the impact on children. Before we could simply address this problem, the donor community had to make sure that we were on the same page. We needed to make sure that all of us had the right understanding of what the problem was and what the solution was. We asked experts, convened NGOs and drew on our local knowledge from the various provinces. We had to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of solutionsThe solutions in each province were different. But this was also the right thing to do. Instead of a blanket approach we made a tailored approach. The PRTs in this case were an advantage because we could tailor a questionnaire to them and collect responses.
  • In the beginning, there were 28 provinces affected and by the end of September it was determined that only 14 were acutely affected. Actions taken: Development of a new spreadsheet which ranked information, priority areas and resources available. Investigation of water tankering. And the potential of food distribution to more Afghans. One donor who had a WASH specialist did a survey of 5 provinces and discovered that water points were damaged and needed to be maintained and a priority.Donors scheduled regular meetings with the Ministry of Agriculture, Disaster Management and Rural Development to discuss the causes and solutions to this problem. There were also questions regarding how many Afghans affected. Analysis: Water tankering was done because of poor water point maintenanceDevelopment of the DMA authority was needed and donors led by offering to helpResult 1: WASH became an advocacy issue for future donor meetings with the government implementing the water points in communities. Result 2: Applying funds for the drought through the UN and ICRC and other NGOs.Result 3: Development of a donor priority table; developing a decision making tool; rating the number of people affected and other unintended consequences; Harmonizing of reportsSolutions:Using aerial photos as an information toolCollecting information from NGOs, and UNAnalyzing the information and making a checklist Setting up a specific drought decision making toolUpdating the information on a daily or weekly basisSharing information and deciding as donors and as individual organizations as to remedies applied or fund allocationRegular updates from the UN and Humanitarian Coordinator; changes to the risk levelEach donor wrote to their capitals with recommendations and this depended on decentralized or centralized models.CIDA DFID
  • Lessons Learned:Establishing meetings to discover priorities and who knows what?Inviting other donors to the group in order to understand goals and priorities in the Humanitarian Sector: skills of negotiation are welcome! Voluntary participation – ensuring a welcoming spaceSharing of information – this will allow sharing of information Prioritization of information and translating into a tableAnalyzing and interpretation of information - togetherEvidence is essential, necessary and the basis for all decisionsFrom the CIDA perspective, we learned that having a fund was an essential to humanitarian response. We had success with the KLIP in Kandahar but how to operationallize this fund when decision making takes months. Difficult.
  • Evidence in donor coordination: Afghanistan (Raseema Alam, consultant)

    2. 2. CONTEXT - AFGHANISTANBackground
    5. 5. CONTEXT The FRAMEWORK  Donors  Resources  Information  Coordination
    6. 6. SETTING UP THE DONOR COORDINATIONGROUP Goals by country Meetings Tasks and Responsibilities
    7. 7. SWOT ANALYSIS Strengths Weaknesses •Similar Priorities Different types of •Similar political and information commitment to Different types of humanitarian assistance solutions/remedies within HQ Opportunities Challenges •Opportunity for aid •Many emergencies effectiveness in the •2011 was a transformative humanitarian assistance year for many embassies sector i.e. managing change •Leadership •Direct access to the Humanitarian Coordinator; allowed donors to attend the Country Team meetings
    8. 8. GENESIS OF OUR SPREADSHEET Setting priorities Tools for decision making – priority scale for each issue Harmonization of priorities Harmonization of funds
    9. 9. Donor Priority Partner Sector $ (in Reporti Other End Report M) ng Donors ed to Cycle FTSCIDA Food WFP Food 60 Yearly; US, Mar Yes Security Security Monthly Japan 31-11CIDA Protecti UNHCR Protecti 3 Yearly; ECHO, Mar Yes on on Monthly USAID 31CIDA HA ICRC General 4 Yearly ECHO, Mar Yes USAID 31CIDA HA IFRC General 4 Yearly Mar Yes 31 DDR DDR 1 Emerge Preposit 1 ncy ioning
    10. 10. CASE EXAMPLE – DROUGHT 2011
    11. 11. CONTEXT OF THE DROUGHT Signs of the drought in May 2011 Areas affected Collection of information Decision Making Solutions
    12. 12. CONCLUSIONSWay forward
    13. 13. LESSONS LEARNED Establishing goals of donor coordination groups early Voluntary participation Sharing of information Prioritizing and categorizing information Analyzing and interpreting information – together Adapting to the changes in HQ demands