1 Executive summary, including lessons learnt, main findings and main recommendations This report outlines the preliminary findings and recommendations derived from the first of two visits made to Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua as part of the mid-term evaluation of Mitch programmes (Project no: LAM ) requested by Tearfund's Latin American and Caribbean Team (Approval Code CA-00- COP-0248). The evaluation team consisted of two external evaluators, Dr. Andrew Leake (TL) (Technical Coordinator A.Soc.I.A.N.A - Argentina) and M.Sc.. Milton Flores-Barahona (Executive Director of CIDICCO - Honduras). The purpose of this evaluation is to develop a learning as well as an accountable process for both Tearfund and its partners based on the relief and rehabilitation programmes/projects supported by Tearfund. The evaluation seeks to assess whether or not the planned objectives, activities and processes were/are being achieved and to make recommendations for the future. During this first visit the team spent a total of 20 days in Central America, distributed as follows: Honduras 14 1 ; Nicaragua 4; and El Salvador 2. The visit was structured around 5 group discussion meetings held with representatives from 20 Tearfund partners (Honduras 12; Nicaragua 6; and El Salvador 2) as well as Tearfund s Rehabilitation Team in Tegucigalpa, with whom we met as a group on 4 occasions as well as interviewing each member individually. The evaluators also visited 12 project sites, and conducted informal interviews with middle-level field managers, extensionists and project beneficiaries. Additional data was gathered through interviews with key informants not involved in the projects as well as a review of project documentation. The sheer magnitude of the damage caused by hurricane Mitch (October 1998) and the total number of partners (22 - and growing) Tearfund has worked with in responding to the needs of its victims in Honduras, Nicaragua and El Salvador (and now in Guatemala) makes this a singularly complex programme. Tearfund opted not to go operational, preferring instead to channel its support to both old and new partners in the region. This strategic choice has, in our view, paid off handsomely, enabling aid to be applied in an appropriate manner and strengthening the capacity of local partners and beneficiary organizations. Tearfund and its partners are to be commended for the amount and quality of the work that has been achieved in bringing relief and rehabilitation to so many victims of the hurricane. Partners are, on the whole, achieving their planned objectives, and in many cases, have gone much further. Some have articulated Tearfund's support with funds or support in kind from other sources in order to significantly add value to the impact they have made. Any shortcomings or errors highlighted in this study must be set squarely within the context that this has on the whole been an extraordinarily imaginative and successful programme. 1 This included two days for writing the draft report.
2 Relief and Rehabilitation mid-term Evaluation for the Mitch Programmes in Central America SWOT analysis of rehabilitation programme: Key Strengths! Timely and appropriate localized rehabilitation! Comprehensive and imaginative response to a major disaster! Increase in number and strength of Central American partners! Regional presence through Rehab Team in Honduras Principal Weaknesses! Limited sharing and pooling of partner experience! Limited support to strategic issues (income generation, land tenure)! Lack of clearly delegated roles and autonomy for Rehab Team in Honduras to take more creative initiatives at regional level! Lack of thought concerning exit strategies or the phasing in of longer term development Future Opportunities! Develop a powerful learning process among partners! Organizational development of small and incipient partners! Enable evangelical churches to take on their social responsibility Possible Threats! Partners unable to retain staff to meet project commitments! Partners unable to follow-up projects due to lack of funds! Dilution of the quality of partnerships due to sheer numbers
3 Relief and Rehabilitation mid-term Evaluation for the Mitch Programmes in Central America Lessons Learnt, Main Findings & Main Recommendations This is a learning as well as an accountable process for both Tearfund and Tearfund's partners (TOR-3). We have therefore chosen to present our main findings as a series of lessons, set next to what we have observed, followed by our specific recommendation. Table 1 Summary of main findings and main recommendations Area Lesson Observed Situation Recommendation Tearfund UK A programme of this geographic and financial dimensions, number and diversity of partners, and short span of time, demands clear efficient and effective policies and fixed lines of delegated management and administration in order to respond in a flexible manner to the peculiarities of the different partners and their initiatives. There is a need for a clear and streamlined procedure for the processing of project proposals for rehabilitation There is a sense that roles within Tearfund are not clearly defined or adhered too, particularly in the Rehabilitation Team. Partners end up being confused, and often do not know whose instructions to follow Partners are not as aware as they might be of Tearfund's overall PARTNER Ws for the Mitch rehab programme or their policies for funding While often timely, current procedures come across as overly bureaucratic and at times frustrating. Projects seemed to be treated on a case by case basis and not through a standardized set of procedures Review and revise the delegation of the tasks of the members of the Rehab Team, including the responsibilities of UK-based staff related to the Mitch programme. Update partners on TF s current strategies, policies, funding criteria, and operational norms for both Mitch programme and normal projects Conduct a joint review (TFUK and TFRT) aimed at simplifying procedures for processing Mitch related proposals, and adhere to them. TFRT TFRT (cont) Routine reporting procedures should be complemented with a more systematic documentation process Partners require: An unequivocal single point of contact with management from which to obtain quick and clear responses Close (timely and structured), but soft accompaniment Although partners elaborate interim reports of their rehabilitation work, these tend not to capture the richness of their experiences and frequently leave aside the project's less visible or tangible impacts on areas such as health, economy and spiritual rehabilitation of people. Partners confused by the lack of definitions of roles and apparent overlap of responsibilities Tearfund's accompaniment does not respond to a systematic plan of visits. These tend to be too short to allow a relationship to be built with partners. Establish an operational policy that will build up capacity of partners through a documentation and systematization of experiences. This can be done with the assistance of local consultants the use of visual media (e.g. media) Update and respect the definition of individual team member roles Establish and respect a programme of visits to partners, ensuring an adequate length of time is spent with each partner
4 Argue the pertinence of project proposal based on a thorough understanding of the project s context and idiosyncrasy of the partner While understanding exists, it lacks consistency and periodic updating Through a more structured approach of accompaniment seek to maintain a consistent and updated understanding of partner s context and individual character In order to achieve the above, TFRT requires solid administrative and visionary management Non-adherence to specified roles, resulting in duplication of functions and tendency to become bogged down in day to day administrative tasks Strengthen the managerial skills and capacity of the team by adding a qualified administrative assistant to the TFRT A programme of this magnitude, funding such a large number and variety of partners, demands dedicated administrative follow-up in order for the management team to have up to date basic information for decision making and public disclosure of the funding agency s contribution. Lack of consolidated information about the status of different projects can create difficulties when trying to quantify the outcomes and impact of implemented actions. For example: how many houses have been built? What is the total amount of money invested in this area by country? How many water- systems? How many hectares of agricultural land rehabilitated? Create an computer database that provides, quick precise information about the overall financial state and extent of the implementation of projects Partner Organizational capacity Retention of quality staff High organizational capability enables partners to gain significant influence beyond the realm of the specific objectives of the project Long-term rehabilitation emphasizing social processes requires continuity of staff in order to be able to develop a relationship of trust and credibility with beneficiaries Retention of quality staff often results in the increase of an organization s capacity Several partners have achieved this level of influence though not to the same degree. Low levpartner X4 of remuneration results in high turnover rates of staff as people keep looking for better-paid jobs. Partners understaffed and unable to adequately meet their responsibilities Partners feel awkward to argue their case for the funding of realistic salaries. Promote the exchange of experience among partners as a strategy for learning-for leverage, and updating their understanding of basic principles of development TF to consider increasing its contribution to cover well justified partners administrative costs (this to be done on case by case basis) TF encourage partners to make realistic assessment of the work commitments implied in their proposals. Financial base Long-term rehabilitation requires partners to have a degree of financial autonomy in order to develop long-term plans Some partners are highly dependant on one or two donors, resulting in a weak financial base Encourage partners to develop funding base and to engage in long term financial strategies as well as competent management of diverse funding Work is project rather than process oriented Encourage weak partners to view auditing procedures as a learning and capacity building process rather than as an institutional threat motivated by distrust or suspicion on the part of partner agency
5 Exit or phasing in of in long term development strategies It is easy for partners to start projects but difficult to exit them Most partners contemplate staying with beneficiaries beyond September As a result, few partners have given much thought to exit strategies. Encourage partners to think and elaborate plans for the medium term ( ) plan Encourage strategic alliances with other organizations that could support the partner s efforts once TF has ceased funding agencies Accountability to beneficiaries Issues Housing Land Project designs are rendered inappropriate if partners are not sufficiently accountable to beneficiaries Housing projects, particularly those involving resettlement of rural populations, are highly complex in terms of their social and economic implications House designs need to be suited to the particular needs of beneficiaries and both environmentally and culturally sensitive It is impossible to speak of rehabilitation for people who do not have land Accountability to beneficiaries seems to be new concept for most partners. Few partners provide opportunities for beneficiaries to hold them accountable for actions that are supposedly for the benefit of them. Housing projects often lack a comprehensive understanding of the social and economic needs of displaced people Partners have an extraordinary wealth of experience on housing projects, but this is not applied because is scattered among partners and individuals spread over a geographical region Although land-less people remain the most vulnerable sector affected by the hurricane, donors are understandably reluctant to fund land purchases Encourage partners (in their project proposals) to accept the influence beneficiary groups have over them (Reverse participation) and to negotiate performance criteria on which the actions of the partners will be evaluated. Encourage and fund a regional workshop aimed at compiling individual experiences on housing including those of the beneficiaries Encourage partners to incorporate or formulate their housing proposals according to the findings of this workshop TF consider supporting actions that empower beneficiary groups to lay claim to land and help pay for legalization procedures Trauma Trauma continues to be pervasive among Mitch victims and often inhibits rehabilitation initiatives Most partners are not aware or adequately equipped to cope with trauma or have failed to give serious consideration to the issue. Consider inviting PARTNER M to visit other partners in order to share experiences and help them to discern what measures they might take in addressing this issue Income Generation The design of rehabilitation projects should be based on a clear understanding of the economic background of beneficiaries and the economic environment within which the project will be implemented Most of the observed housing projects fail to offer opportunities for sustainable income generation Encourage partners to incorporate income generation analysis in their projects design. The analysis of income generation should be gender sensitive Church Involvement Disasters create "space" for the churches to view, recognize and come to terms with their social responsibility Partners report that evangelical churches do not always have a full grasp of the biblical mandate for involvement in rehabilitation and development work. Foster and support instances that facilitate dialogue and education on church involvement in rehabilitation Summary of General Findings and Recommendations
6 This section brings together the general findings and recommendations contained and highlighted in bold italics in the main text. It is presented here in order to facilitate quick reference to key issues in the main document, and should be read in conjunction with the Table 1 Lessons Learnt & Main Findings and Main Recommendations (PARTNER Pes iv-vi). The square brackets contain text which has been added to the original citation in order to improve readability. 1) Organizational structure and management of Mitch rehab programme a) An improvement in accompaniment [between Tearfund Rehab Team and partner] will, we believe, lead to the development of stronger and more productive partnerships, and provide a good foundation for the development of organizational capacity among partners. (P10) b) Tearfund needs to weigh up the pros and cons of pressing on with its search for new partners when it could effectively and rapidly help a large number of victims by simply increasing support for well established and experienced partners. (P5) c) Tearfund's Rehab Team might consider helping partners to 'audit' their field work and identify areas in which they might require technical assistance. This assistance should be sought and implemented as quickly as possible. (P11) d) Tearfund might consider remaining open to 'quick funding' (relief style) geared towards supporting a partner in making the most of an opportunity to coordinate actions with other organizations. We would suggest that this be done through allowing the partner to reschedule the use of a proportion of their approved budgets in the knowledge that this will be made up by Tearfund at a later date. Partners would need to justify their action prior to approvals, and be relatively certain of the potential 'pay off' of the proposed action. (P18). 2) Organizational development a) We strongly recommend that Tearfund consider targeting more funds towards the organizational development of partners. We say this, because we believe that this strategy will in the long term result in a significantly higher and more sustainable impact than if funds remain targeted at the provision of material assistance for rehabilitation. (P14) b) Whatever the cause, the inability to attract and retain good people is worrying pattern, because in our view the quality of long-term rehabilitation in income generation and social development will depend more on the quality of the relationships between staff and beneficiaries than on the cold provision of project inputs. (P15) c) Tearfund might encourage partners to provide a realistic assessment of their staffing situation in relation to proposed projects. These assessments must be real in the sense of disclosing the full work load of staff in addition to the tasks and responsibilities implied by a new proposal. (P16) d) we conclude that an increase in funding for the recruitment and retention of good staff is at this point in the Mitch programme a more important issue to most partners than training. In our view, staff recruitment and retention will be a more effective strategy than training in relation to enabling partners to complete their rehabilitation programmes (P15-16). e) Tearfund must be careful and very diplomatic in handling and articulating its reasons for not fully funding submitted budgets and seek ways of positively helping partners overcome their shortfall in funding administration costs.(p15)
7 f) [Partner links with large donor agencies] We believe Tearfund's Rehab Team can and should give suggestions as to how partners can [ ] take the necessary steps to coordinate actions with large and bureaucratic international donors. (P17) 3) Incidence on government a) In relation to NGO's doing the work that is the responsibility of local municipalities] Partners must be very clear in limiting themselves to being a contribution to the solution, rather than becoming the solution. (P17) b) A priority in this regard [reaching agreements of cooperation between beneficiaries, partners and municipal authorities] is the issue of empowering people to negotiate long term agreements with municipalities rather than 'administrations' which only last for the electoral cycles. (P17) c) Partners have accumulated a great deal of experience in dealing with municipalities, and we would urge Tearfund to consider initiating (possibly through a pair of nominated partner such as PARTNER P and PARTNER A) country-based discussion sessions 2 in which partners can pool their experiences in order to generate appropriate modpartner X4 or strategies for coordinating work with local governments. (P17) 4) Training and capture of experiences a) We believe that there is much to be gained from supporting project directors to be able to make informal exchange visits to other partners and indeed other organizations not supported by Tearfund. Aside from learning this will, in our view, also act as a powerful incentive for these individuals to improve their own work. We would recommend that a fund for this purpose be managed by the Rehab Team in Tegucigalpa. (P18) b) All partners should be encouraged to identify and think through how their project proposals relate to local processes. This could be achieved through the sharing of experiences between partners, facilitated through exchange visits. (P23) c) Partners should become more involved in planning for future disasters. Professional advice as well as funding to train and support partners is highly encouraged. 5) Groups which have not received assistance 6) Land Tearfund might consider encouraging partners to compile a low-profile survey of the current situation of communities [regarding land] within their areas of influence to better inform future decisions on funding. If nothing PARTNER X4e, this information can be used by them to lobby government for support. (P5) We recommend that Tearfund support partners conducting research on the legal situation of tenure of lands slated for resettlement projects. Research of this nature will enable a partner to identify their options and act accordingly. Tearfund should also consider funding the costs of legalization of tenure, as this is often a long drawn out and costly process. (P6) 2 Partners question the validity of regional-based workshops, stating that national level encounters are more appropriate in dealing with the diversity of cultures and social situations in each nation.
8 7) Housing design Tearfund might consider helping partners to pool their experiences in house construction and come up with policy guidelines on what they would consider to be an socially appropriate, architectually sound and cost-effective housing solution. (P5) 8) Rural to urban resettlement a) Partners proposing to resettle rural communities into urban or peri-urban settings should be encouraged to first visit and evaluate the sites from where people have moved in order to explore possibilities for helping displaced persons re-settle as close as is safely possible to their original sites. (P5) b) Partners involved the resettlement of people away from their traditional means of subsistence need to consider a three year programme (minimum) of support aimed at helping these people develop income generation. (P8) 9) Income generation for resettled people a) Partners engaged in housing projects should be encouraged to seriously consider what opportunities might exist or be developed with and for beneficiaries in relation to income generation. (P8) b) We would urge partners to [reflect on the long term processes affecting and shaping the options that their beneficiaries have for economic development]. They should also seek out experiences and lessons learned from similar projects conducted after earlier hurricanes (Fifi in Honduras, and Juan in Nicaragua) in order to develop a feeling for how things could turn out with their projects over the long term. (P10)
9 10) Accountability Tearfund might look for ways to encourage partners to progressively increase the scope for beneficiaries to take control of projects. Less experienced partners would benefit from theoretical training on concepts and principles of participation.(p7) 11) Exit strategies -phasing in of development a) Tearfund might consider urging partners to clarify how they intend to continue accompanying beneficiaries over the next three years in order to ensure avoiding abrupt endings to projects. (P13) b) Partners may well find that there is much to be gained in fostering inter-village solidarity, enabling assisted groups to share experiences and resources with groups which have not yet managed to secure help for rehabilitation. (P23) 12) Environmental issues a) Tearfund should consider raising questions on the environmental implications and impacts of project proposals received from partners. (P14) b) General hygiene in housing projects is an area where partners need to place considerably more emphasis. (P 13) 13) Church involvement a) We would encourage Tearfund to initiate discussions with interested partners on ideas and strategies for improving communication and dialogue with churches on the issue of social responsibility. (P20) b) In view of this situation, it would be wise not to push interdenominational work too fast in those areas where it is deemed difficult (e.g. the Mosquitia in Honduras). A well intentioned but poorly thought through approach to such initiatives could end up doing more harm than good. The catholic church in La Mosquitia will, in our view, be more reluctant now than ever to engage in interdenominational activities. (P20) c) Tearfund could encourage current partners to identify training needs in their churches, offering small one-off grants to enable them to conduct discussion meetings and workshops. (P20-21).