Strategic Outcome Area: Saving Lives, Now and in the Future | Oxfam

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The Oxfam Strategic Plan 2013–2019: The Power of People Against Poverty guides the confederation's programme, advocacy and campaign priorities. Change Goal 3: Saving Lives, Now and in the Future is one of the six change goals set by the Strategic Plan. This report reviews a sample of nine Oxfam's Humanitarian Crisis responses: the Syrian crisis in Lebanon and Jordan, the South Sudan regional crisis, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the conflict in the Central Republic Africa and Chad, the Ebola crisis in Liberia and Sierra Leone, and the flooding in the Solomon Islands. Most of these crisis were categorised as Category 1 and 2 emergencies.
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  OXFAM RESEARCH REPORTS FEBRUARY 2016 Oxfam Research Reports  are written to share research results, to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy and practice. They do not necessarily reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam.  www.oxfam.org   STRATEGIC OUTCOME REPORT: ‘SAVING LIVES, NOW AND IN THE FUTURE’   ELIZABETH WOOD   Research and Evaluation Services  2 Strategic Outcome Report: Saving Lives, Now and in the Future  3 Strategic Outcome Area: Saving Lives, Now and in the Future EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The Oxfam Strategic Plan (OSP) 2013  –2019, ‘The Power of People Against Poverty’, guides the confederation’s pro gramme, advocacy and campaign priorities over a six-year period. The priorities are set out in six change goals over this period to reduce poverty and help bring about greater equality. This Strategic Outcome Report focuses on Change Goal 3: ‘Saving lives,  now and in the future’. In order to evaluate progress towards the objectives of the change goals, indicative outcome areas have been established for each goal. In the case of Change Goal 3 the indicative outcome area is ‘the quality of the response judged against sector standards’ –  which is also the focus of this report. Oxfam’s Global Humanitarian Indicator Tool (HIT), which incorporates internationally recognized standards such as Sphere and the Core Humanitarian Standard, is utilized as the primary measurement tool to review this outcome area. This report reviews a sample of nine of Oxfam’s humanitarian crisis responses: the Syrian crisis in Lebanon and Jordan, the South Sudan regional crisis, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, the conflicts in the Central African Republic (CAR) and Chad, the Ebola crisis in Liberia and Sierra Leone and the flooding in the Solomon Islands. Oxfam categorized most of these crises as Category 1 and 2 emergencies, with the exception of the Solomon Islands, which was a Category 3 response. They involve a total of nine response countries across four continents, and despite differences in the nature of the crises  –  they included rapid-onset natural disasters, assistance to displaced people due to conflict, and food security and health-focused crises  –   Oxfam’s responses to the needs of affected people were broadly similar, focusing on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) or emergency food security and livelihoods, or both. In addition, cross-cutting considerations in the responses typically include coverage; gender; protection; vulnerable groups; monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning (MEAL); safe programming; partnership; staff capacity; security; staff health; and business support functions. This report takes a primarily qualitative approach to review the selected outcome areas, mainly using secondary data from evaluation reports or similar materials, supplemented with external materials to provide additional context. The overall report is structured according to Ox fam’s HIT quality standard areas. In addition, a number of interviews (or email correspondence) with Oxfam staff who have specialist knowledge have been included to supplement and triangulate the analysis in areas where further information would be beneficial. The specific areas of focus in this report are the extent to which Oxfam’s responses have adhered to quality standards, the performance of the responses against each standard and the enabling and blocking factors to a good-quality programme. These factors form the main themes of the report and, where possible, a distinction is made as to whether they are largely within Oxfam’s control or beyond it.   In terms of the overall findings, the analysis demonstrates that Oxfam’s humanitarian responses have provided high-quality, life-saving assistance to millions of people. In addition, the strategy of systematic external evaluations of Oxfam’s humanitarian responses demonstrates its commitment to quality and best practice.  According to the analysis, the HIT quality standards that Oxfam has most closely adhered to in the selected responses are coverage, advocacy and campaigns, safe programming and  4 Strategic Outcome Report: Saving Lives, Now and in the Future coordination. In terms of coverage, a series of factors have enabled a high level of performance, some of which seem particularly important. For example, the timing of Oxfam’s categorization of a crisis is significant, as this determines how the response is prioritized and is usually the trigger for scale-up (an exception to this was the Chad response where the categorization did not have the expected impact, as discussed below). In addition to categorization, enabling factors in achieving coverage targets include the capacity of national partners to facilitate the response and a favourable funding outcome. Although the sample examined in this report cannot necessarily be generalized to all of Oxfam’s responses, it does give an indication of the impact that different factors may have. Across the sample, it is seen that the funding environment appears to be much more favourable to Oxfam in rapid-onset crises than in slow-onset ones, with the latter often requiring lengthy negotiations in a complex context. This was the case in the Syrian crisis and in the Ebola crisis in West Africa: the time needed to lobby donors was a key issue in scaling up in both contexts. Having a prior presence in the response country is also strategically important in terms of Oxfam’s ability to scale up an existing programme, along with the time saved due to it having experience and knowledge of the context. This is not an insurmountable barrier, but understandably in countries where Oxfam did not already have a presence, such as in Lebanon, Jordan and CAR, it took longer to launch and scale up emergency programmes than in countries where it did, such as the Philippines or the Solomon Islands. The strength of the humanitarian coordination system can also be a factor: for example, in the Solomon Islands a relatively weak system undermined crucial activities that were precursors to scale-up, such as inter-agency assessments.  A further key, though more general, factor to consider in terms of achieving high levels of coverage is the type and depth of the response. For example, focusing on the distribution of items to a total affected population, as opposed to activities targeted towards the most vulnerable people, will naturally directly affect the number of people reached, as well as the ability to successfully meet quality standards such as Sphere and Oxfam internal standards in MEAL, gender and partner relations. The use of coverage targets may be an area for further review. In terms of advocacy and campaigns, another high-performing area, there were proven positive impacts on the quality of response resulting from advocacy, campaigns and media work. Oxfam has demonstrated an excellent performance in these areas, with the standard being fully met in most of the responses covered in this report. There are clear examples of the significant contribution made by advocacy work to the scale-up and impact of humanitarian responses. Key enabling factors include the production of a timely advocacy strategy that also reflects the country team’s inputs and priorities and has programmatic links to high -level lobbying, monitoring of key events, milestones and information channels, and coordination with other agencies to achieve a greater impact and strengthen the voices of the most vulnerable people. Where the standard was not fully met, the common blocking factor was that response teams were not sufficiently resourced with advocacy, media or communications staff. This was also seen with other cross-cutting roles in relation to gender, protection and MEAL. Regarding safe programming, there is evidence that this was integrated into all of the responses included in this report, although to varying degrees. In addition, protection issues were explicitly addressed in the documentation for nearly all responses. However, at the same time, there was a trend towards the late recruitment of protection specialists in response teams, though this was usually overcome by collaborating with other actors on protection issues. In addition, with Oxfam International’s Global Humanitarian Team (GHT) and Humanitarian Support Personnel (HSP) approach, it is now becoming easier to temporarily mobilize protection specialists in humanitarian responses, until response teams can be staffed more permanently. It is also of note that, throughout the emergency responses, Oxfam proved to be very strong on technical coordination with other humanitarian agencies, and often acted as the lead or co-lead of sector working groups. There have been many observations in evaluation reports by other INGOs, national partners, UN agencies and government departments that Oxfam’s efforts
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