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Real-time evaluation in Haiti, one month after the earthquake of 12 January 2010
February 2010, for the Strategic Affairs Directorate of the French MoD

Less than a month after the Haiti earthquake, Groupe URD carried out an initial evaluation of the response to this tragic event, focusing particularly on how the response was managed in the first weeks.

It is very rare for the first months of a response to a disaster to be evaluated. Though military and civil security forces gather feedback regularly, evaluators often arrive much later when those who were in place in the initial hours and weeks have been replaced and time has already modified memories of the initial phase.

At Groupe URD, we have often tried to carry out evaluations as close as possible to the peak emergency phase. Our work after hurricane Mitch in 1998-99 and since (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Tsunami, etc.) has shown how important this approach is. The United Nations refers to it as “real-time evaluation” (RTE).

For several months now, we have been working on a piece of research with the Strategic Affairs Directorate of the French MoD on the theme of “unintentional risks” (natural, technological and health disasters) with regard to the next thirty years. It was during the presentation of the mid-term report of this research project, which took place only a few days after the earthquake, that it was decided to carry out an RTE in Haiti with the objective of analysing the following points:

  • search and rescue operations;
  • links with disaster healthcare;
  • gradual stabilisation and implementation of humanitarian aid;
  • coordination mechanisms;
  • civil-military issues;
  • initial assessment and analysis issues

After having contacted different French and international organisations involved in the response, the evaluation team travelled to Haiti in February 2010. The evaluators tried to meet as many stakeholders as possible: the Haitian authorities, the remaining “Search and Rescue” teams, UN agencies, NGOs, donors, etc. And, perhaps most important of all, the evaluators spoke to local people in order to gain insight into their perception of the situation. The team conducted the evaluation in Port-au-Prince, Gressier and Léogane.

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