The purpose of the country-level research reviews on the added value of CERF, conducted under the Performance and Accountability Framedwork (PAF), is to provide transparent and accountable information to all stakeholders, including Member States, donors, Fund recipients and beneficiaries of CERF funded-projects.
Three to five country-level reviews are conducted each year under CERF’s PAF by independent evaluation experts. In 2011 the reviews took place in Bolivia, Colombia, Ethiopia and Zimbabwe. These countries were chosen to reflect recipients of both large and small amounts of CERF funding, natural as well as man-made disasters, and to avoid duplication with countries studied in the CERF Five-year Evaluation.
2011 PAF Country Review findings
Although each study focused on a specific country, several general themes emerged across the four reviews.
Importance of local coordination architecture: CERF is an integral part of the wider humanitarian reform effort, which includes strengthening the role of the RC/HCs and the cluster approach. CERF is intended to draw on and reinforce the cluster approach in project design and implementation through the introduction of funding. However, the studies revealed in Bolivia and Colombia that the cluster approach could not be taken for granted, particularly where the government has created its own distinct national coordination architecture outside of the cluster system. Still, it was acknowledged that CERF had strengthened intra-UN relations, and relations between the UN and the government.
Preparedness and disaster risk reduction: Countries included in the reviews faced, to varying degrees, recurrent natural disasters. The response to such emergencies falls squarely within CERF’s mandate of financing life-saving emergency aid. However, given the recurring nature of these emergencies, humanitarian actors were called on to better integrate disaster risk reduction and emergency preparedness in planning, which requires identifying funding opportunities outside of CERF.
Timeliness and gap-filling: The reviews consistently found that the CERF secretariat was quick to review, approve and disburse project funds once proposals were officially submitted. CERF-funded interventions filled important gaps in humanitarian response, or in the case of Bolivia, were the only significant source of funding available. However, whether the timely disbursement of CERF funding translated into timely and efficient delivery of humanitarian assistance at the country level depended on a variety of factors. For example, at the post-submission stage, differences between individual agencies’ procurement and sub-granting procedures impacted response times of implementing partner NGOs.
Scope for additional learning: In terms of accountability, the reviews found CERF’s annual RC/HC reporting requirements to be reasonable. However, potential for additional learning at the country level were identified beyond these reports. Humanitarian actors in-country were encouraged to hold a yearly lessons-learned exercise on the preparation of the CERF annual report. The review authors urged agencies to conduct more systematic evaluations of CERF-funded projects.
The country reviews carried out under the PAF over the last two years, as well as a number of other studies, reviews and planning frameworks, inform the CERF secretariat work plan for 2012 and beyond.
Due to the significant amounts allocated from CERF to the drought response in the Horn of Africa in 2011, the ERC, the CERF secretariat and the CERF Advisory Group found that a regional PAF review in 2012 would be an important tool for distilling lessons learned and for gauging the added value of CERF’s response to the drought. A second review is planned to assess the regional response to political unrest in Côte d’Ivoire in 2011, which will include the neighbouring countries of Liberia and Ghana.
The PAF methodology and log-frame will be revisited by the CERF secretariat and Advisory Group in 2012.