To avoid and mitigate food crises and famine, we must learn from - and avoid repeating - past mistakes. This includes drawing on evidence from evaluation and creating strategies and incentives to implement lessons. Real time evaluations are also used to support learning and improve a humanitarian response as it unfolds.
A Dangerous Delay: The cost of late response to early warnings in in the Horn of Africa (Oxfam, Save the Children)
A compilation of evaluations on drought, food security and humanitarian relief here
As governments, NGOs and private citizens support the ongoing relief efforts in the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, and focus on longer term recovery, we draw on past evaluations to contribute evidence on some of the core issues.
Recurrent drought and food shortages: In Ethiopia, solutions are being found to combat seasonal food shortages. For example, the government's Safety Net Project, supported by international donors, has been found to be effective at helping families ride out dry seasons and in getting food and water quickly to those in need when droughts hit. Read the full assessment of Ethiopia's Productive Safety Net Project
Child malnutrition claims the lives of millions of children each year. While there is good knowledge about specific interventions that work - such as micronutrient supplements and breastfeeding - implementation challenges and barriers such as political instability and conflict have prevented key interventions from being adequately delivered at scale, according to a report on addressing the underlying and basic causes of child malnutrition.
Difficult terrain: Continued armed conflict and political instability in Somalia have rendered the implementation of aid programmes there very difficult - compounding the effects of drought and rising food prices and contributing to the current crisis. An evaluation of UNDP programmes in Somalia identified a number of factors that have contributed to poor performance of certain agencies in this context, including short-sighted planning and the reliance on contracted NGOs or local firms for monitoring projects.
(Photo: Woman and children at the Dolo Ado camp, Ethiopia. World Food Programme Photo/Judith Schuler)