Evaluation of the first DIPECHO Plan for South Asia
In late 2002 Aguaconsult won a competitive tender for the evaluation of the first DIPECHO action plan for South Asia, and subsequently fielded a team which visited four countries to carry out field visits and interview implementing partner staff. The First Action Plan for South Asia was adopted by ECHO in mid-2001 and covered five countries in the region: Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.This region is characterised by high levels of poverty, very dense populations and is subject to severe and repeated natural disasters. The Action Plan had two main objectives: firstly, to reduce the physical vulnerability of target communities specifically to flooding events, and secondly to strengthen local level management capacities of those institutions responsible for disaster preparedness and management.One of the strategic approaches adopted by DIPECHO for this Action Plan was that projects should demonstrate best practice in vulnerability reduction and that they should be both practical and reproducible. The Action Plan comprised of eight projects with a total value of 2.8 million, executed by European NGOs in conjunction with national and local NGO partners.The Aguaconsult team concluded that, overall, the eight projects were well designed and executed, with appropriate activities that contributed to achieving the stated goals of the first Action Plan. The majority of the projects had achieved their stated output and when considered on aggregate the projects were found to have had a positive impact at community level and to have developed innovative approaches that led to changes in the way communities responded to, and managed, natural disasters.The strategy for local level capacity building adopted under the first Action Plan was found to be relevant and to have been successful, especially in complementing the work of government agencies. In general, project beneficiaries were found to have been well targeted on the basis of vulnerability. One very significant, but less tangible, impact of the Action Plan was the raising of awareness about DP issues and the contribution to institutional capacity building at the local level.Governments in several countries in the region, most notably India and Bangladesh, were found to have made significant progress towards reforming the way in which they approach disaster management.These reforms were supported by United Nations agencies and attracted considerable donor support, including that of the European Commission. These developments had obvious and significant ramifications for any future DIPECHO planning in the region.Based on the evaluation of the First DIPECHO Action Plan, the Aguaconsult team considered that there was a demonstrated need and justification for ECHO to continue to support disaster preparedness interventions to countries in the region.