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Haiti Observatory: initial appraisal and future prospects

After Afghanistan and Chad, Groupe URD is continuing to explore the area of learning and evaluation support at field level. Since January 2012, we have been running an Evaluation and Learning Support Office (ELSO) in Port-au-Prince. The ELSO focuses on three main areas related to improving the quality of humanitarian and development operations: building national capacity in terms of programme evaluation; promoting and discussing the main lessons learned from the response to the earthquake; and, in-depth analysis of certain issues closely linked to the emergency, transition and reconstruction phases. A little more than a year after this project was launched, an appraisal of its activities has shown the relevance of this type of mechanism. The results of the Observatory were presented last week at the World Bank in Washington during a workshop on Haiti. But a lot remains to be done for these to be consolidated and to continue providing Haitian actors with support.

 The Haiti Observatory

Initially launched as part of the Haiti Evaluation Task Force (OECD DAC, UNEG and ALNAP), the Evaluation and Learning Support Office project, more commonly referred to as the ‘Haiti Observatory for humanitarian and reconstruction aid’ has focused on three strategic areas from the beginning:

  • Building the capacity of Haitian organizations and giving them a greater role in the evaluation process: by running training sessions adapted to the Haitian context, establishing partnerships with training structures to disseminate lessons as much as possible, providing Haitian evaluators with support and consolidating the data base of national evaluators.
  • Improving the dissemination and sharing of evaluation results and good practices and improving learning within national institutions and humanitarian and development organisations via different types of events, means of dissemination and the creation of partnerships.
  • Conducting additional research to complement evaluation conclusions on issues decided with aid actors in Haiti according to their needs.

 Appraisal of its activities

A little more than a year after the launch of the project, an appraisal of its activities has shown the relevance of this mechanism.

2 training sessions on the topic “Evaluating the Quality of Humanitarian Action” allowed 36 Haitian professionals to be trained in project evaluation. Several NGOs, and independent, international and national consultants were provided with support in conducting project evaluations. Two Haitian universities are now ready to integrate the training course into their university curricula at Masters level.

Research work led to the publication of a study entitled “The community-based approach in Haiti: clarification of the notion of ‘communities’ and recommendations” and a series of studies on the issues of reconstruction and the environment, with case studies in Canaan, Bristout-Bobin and Morne l’Hôpital.

Groupe URD is or has been involved in several evaluations in Haiti:

Discussion workshops/debates on the results of research and evaluations have been organised regularly in the Observatory offices. Lessons from these activities have also been disseminated on an internet site specifically dedicated to the Observatory which contains articles from the bi-monthly newsletter, a virtual library with publications on Haiti, practical guides, etc.

But a lot remains to be done to consolidate these results and continue to provide Haitian actors with support. The demantling of camps and the return to neighbourhoods, issues of security in Haiti and the social and economic issues related to water in an urban environment will be the topics of the next research projects, based on needs identified amongst Haitian and international actors.