Multi-sector nutrition sensitive response to drought emergency in Pakistan
This paper shares the lessons from a multi-sectoral nutrition sensitive response project in Pakistan.
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The Building Disaster Resilience in Pakistan (BDRP) programme was implemented in nine districts by a consortium of Concern Worldwide, ACTED, Welthungerhilfe, IRC and local implementing partners Doaba Foundation, Farmers Development Organization, Veer Development Foundation and Lodhran Pilot Project and Rural Development Foundation. The programme was formulated in full consultation with the Government of Pakistan, UN agencies and implementing partners.
Poverty in Pakistan is concentrated in rural areas where 70% of the population lives. Based on World Bank’s poverty headcount analysis, at US$1.25/day income definition, about 21% of Pakistan’s population is below the poverty line. If the line is set at US$ 2/day, then 60% of the population is below the poverty line. In 2019, the inflation rate was 10.58%, which has been increasing annually since 2015 when it was 2.53%. The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate fell from 5.55% in 2018 to 2.29% in 2019 and 1.55% in 2020. It is feared that with the recent devaluation of the currency, decline in exports and price hikes, and with impacts of COVID-19 on reducing job opportunities, poverty has increased considerably.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been a big blow to the already fragile economy and is responsible for the reduced tax collection. This is evidenced in the form of budget cuts on development projects and a reduction in staff salaries in the public sector.
Besides economic parameters, gender empowerment is rather a low priority in the country. In 2019, Pakistan ranked 3rd to the last, 151 out of 153 countries on Global Gender Gap Index, highlighting the urgent need to promote the social, economic, and political empowerment of women.
The impacts of climate change are also fast unfolding in Pakistan, which is evidenced in the form of increased intensity and frequency of extreme events. Based on the cumulative Global Climate Risk Index from 1999-2018, the German Watch Group (2020 Report) ranked Pakistan at 5th position on the Global Climate Risk Index- a case of downgraded rank from 8th position (Cumulative Index 1998-2017). The group estimated that the country has faced 152 extreme weather events from 1999 to 2018 and lost 9,989 lives and suffered economic losses worth of US$ 3.8 billion.
Besides inherent climatic factors and poor resources at the government and community level, the technical capacity of the Government of Pakistan (GoP) line departments and that of communities is extremely low.
The BDRP programme was developed to respond to these challenges and had a 24 month programme period. The final performance evaluation was commissioned by Concern in the last week of August 2020. The evaluation included a review of relevant programme documents, analysis of baseline and end-line data on the Household Resilience Index and consultations with beneficiary communities and staff of relevant government officials in each district.
The evaluation used the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development–Development Assistance Committee (OECD-DAC) Principles for evaluating the programme. These criteria were Relevance, Efficiency, Effectiveness, Sustainability, Impact, Achievement of Project Objectives, Outputs and the Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system. Each criteria was scored on a scale from 0 - 4 as below:
The evaluation found that the programme accomplished its target of enhancing the resilience of communities to cope with disasters. It found that 41% of the programme targeted population improved their Household Resilience Index (HRI) score and shifted from low to higher categories of HRI.
The following graph shows that at endline, 39%, 35% and 26% of households were found in low, medium and high HRI categories respectively, compared to 80%, 15% and 5% at baseline.
The evaluation assigned a rating of 4 for the relevance of the programme, finding that the programme was highly relevant to the needs of the communities and the Government of Pakistan.
A rating of outstanding performance (4) was also awarded for the programme's effectiveness. The evaluation found that the programme was instrumental in building community resilience. Furthermore, the analysis indicated that in both the flood- and drought-prone areas the trend of improvement in resilience was the same. Likewise, male- and female-headed households almost equally improved their resilience.
The evaluation also scored the programme's efficiency at a 4 for outstanding performance. The cumulative achievement of the programme against the targets indicated that the programme achieved most indicator targets and even surpassed several of them. Though some activity targets were missed due to lockdown because of the COVID-19 outbreak, the programme provided excellent support to the Provincial Development Authorities (PDMAs), District Development Authorities (DDMAs) and communities to cope with the outbreak which was not foreseen at the time of programme formulation, which the evaluation notes as an excellen example of adaptive management.
This criteria was scored as outstanding performance (4). The evaluation found that the programme has no environmental or socio-economic risks to sustainability, rather there will be an environmental enhancement in terms of land conservation, promotion of social forestry, water conservation, etc.
The evaluation found several visible impacts of the programme: (i) increased household income, (ii) trained volunteer force available for support to the Government of Pakistan during disasters, (iii) well-informed communities about disaster risk reduction (DRR), (iv) improved knowledge and practices about WASH, (v) self-confidence of communities, (vi) Union Council level infrastructure which provided evacuation routes as well as easy access to cities and markets and (vii) registration of people living with disabilities with the Social Welfare Department, entitling them to special benefits from government schemes such as health care, cash grants and exemption from some taxes. Keeping in view all the achievements against various targets (mostly surpassed the targets), and gathering of community perceptions and quantitative data during the FGDs, a rating 4 was assigned to impacts.
Programme Monitoring and Evaluation
The evaluation found that although the Programme Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system was well in place and fully recorded the achievements of the programme in terms of quantitative targets, reporting on the quality of interventions was less adequate. For this reason, the evaluation scored this criteria as a 3 (performance in line with what would be expected of a well-functioning organization).
Adapting to COVID-19
Adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, the programme extensively launched campaigns to sanitize villages, towns and schools, promoted frequent hand washing, and provided soap bars and sanitizers to communities as well as to district authorities. This promoted safe WASH practices to a great extent, which is likely to positively impact food absorption and savings on health expenditures. Furthermore, the programme provided cash grants to the poor households left out by the GoP schemes to survive during the lockdown. This practice greatly saved the poor from becoming more destitute.
The material is financed by FCDO through Concern Worldwide. Neither FCDO nor Concern Worldwide or any Implementing Partner of the Programme necessarily share the opinions expressed in. The sole responsibility of the content belongs to the author.