M aximizing the Value of “Cash for Work”
Lessons from a Niger land recuperation project: CRS EARLI
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M AxIMIzINg thE VALuE of CASh foR WoRk
Lessons from a Niger land recuperation project: CRS EARLI
(Emergency Agricultural Recovery of Livelihoods Initiative)
The following good practices were distilled from a recent Real Time Evaluation (RTE)1 of an emergency project in Niger implemented by Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and financed by OFDA that is using cash for work and seed fairs to address food insecurity in the departments of Ouallam and TIllabery. What is an RTE? An RTE is an internal rapid review carried out early on in an emergency response (usually between six to eight weeks after the onset of the emergency, depending on the scale of the emergency). It helps to identify what is being done, what is working, what is not working, and what needs to change to improve the appropriateness and effectiveness of the emergency response program. An RTE looks at where the response is at a given point in time and provides an opportunity for staff to step back and reflect on an emergency response. It is used to gain quick feedback on operational performance and identify systemic problems. Ultimately it is intended to ensure that a CRS emergency response benefits disaster affected people.
This is part of a larger effort to respond to the Sahel Crisis in which below-average rainfall and crop production shortages in 2011 have resulted in reduced food and livestock fodder availability and increasing environmental degradation. Lack of ground cover increases erosion and environmentally negative coping strategies are used to compensate for lack of production and livestock. Many vulnerable families are still recovering from the 2009/2010 food crisis. Cash for Work projects are especially important now before households’ own livelihoods/agriculture activities begin. We arrived at these good practices by responding to evaluation questions posed to the RTE team by project managers. Our responses were informed by the 2011 SPHERE standards2, document review, observation, interviews and focus groups with project participants, community leaders and key informants. We hope this document will reinforce familiar good practices as well as highlight new ones.
1 2 http://www.alnap.org/resources/guides/evaluation/rte.aspx SPHERE Project, Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards on Humanitarian
Response, 2011 Edition.
1. As resources are limited, systems of solidarity should be encouraged. (SPHERE Core Standard 1: People-centred humanitarian response) The extent of need in Tillabery Department in Niger is extensive. It is an area where, according to community leaders, there have been deficit harvests in 14 of the last 14 seasons3. According to Mr. Diambeidou Biga, OCHA Bureau Representative in Tillabery4, the cyclic nature of the crisis has reduced the populations’ assets to such low levels that recovery is much more difficult. Based on focus group discussions, it seems the population’s coping strategies have become increasingly negative each year for both households and their environment. Livestock and other assets have been sold and the environment has become more degraded as residents look to natural resources to meet their basic needs. Previously, residents could collect and sell straw as animal feed but it is no longer available and livestock owners have sold their animals. Women used to sell copto, a leafy plant for soups and seasoning but this is also no longer growing. Similarly, women made baskets for merchants to use for sorting cereal grains but since cereal is no longer available in the markets, there is no longer a market for baskets. Finally, trees are cut to sell as firewood, further increasing desertification and ensuring that Tillabery’s rainfall remains scarce5. Mutual aid is a consistent response to help meet basic household needs. Remittances that are sent home by a migrant family member are shared with others in the community. Women’s associations take collections to distribute to those who don’t have. Focus group participants explained that solidarity is the mutual understanding within communities that households share when they have and others don’t. NGO’s interventions are based on precise calculations for rations per person that will be distributed to households with an average number of six members, for example. In reality, these calories are consumed by more people than the target number as they are shared with neighbors and extended family. This system of mutual aid may diminish the supplemental calories given to individuals but it provides a smaller amount of calories to more people. In all villages visited, the RTE team found community-initiated self-help mechanisms that effectively re-distributed aid so that more people will
3 Key informant Interview with village chief in Tilabery Dept., Project ADVANCE, RTE 2010. 4 Key informant interview with Mr. Diambeidou Biga, OCHA Representative Tilabery Department, Niger, April, 2012. 5 “Seeing Wood, They Also Make Rain” http://www.economist.com/node/17062713 Sept. 23rd, 2010
By Catholic Relief Services , Published by Practical Action on 06/06/12
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