Did the Commission effectively manage the Humanitarian aid provided to populations affected by conflicts in the African Great Lakes Region?
The African Great Lakes area has in recent decades been beset by conflicts, which have resulted in huge population displacements with severe humanitarian consequences. The Commission has funded humanitarian projects in this area since 1994, and is continuing with its efforts to tackle the consequences of the conflicts and unrest. At present, the area most affected is the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has about 1.6 million internally displaced people. Currently, there are about 437.000 Congolese refugees in the neighbouring countries, mainly in Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. The unrest in Burundi in 2015 has added about 236.000 to the overall figure for refugees. In addition to the refugees and the displaced persons, humanitarian aid is also given to the local populations who are caught up in the conflicts or are hosting refugees and displaced persons. This aid consists of the provision of shelter, food, health care and other basic services. To provide this aid the Commission works in close cooperation with international non‑governmental organisations, United Nations agencies and other international organisations. The amount spent on humanitarian assistance in the African Great Lakes area over the period 2011-2015 was about 300 million €. The auditors conclude that humanitarian aid to the population affected by conflict, in the African Great Lakes area was managed effectively by the Commission. The needs assessment carried out was comprehensive and the flexibility to react quickly to changing circumstances was ensured. Most of the projects examined were satisfactory in responding to the particular challenges faced. However, a number of weaknesses were identified. There was a lack of documentary evidence at the stages of determining geographical priorities and assessing project proposals. As a result it was not possible to determine whether the projects chosen complied with the relevant criteria and if the most appropriate projects were selected. When considering the merits of proposals their cost efficiency was not given sufficient attention. The monitoring framework was appropriate given the difficult working environment. The expertise of the Commission’s field staff was helpful to the funded partners but reporting from the field visits was not sufficiently comprehensive. Because of inadequate recording of the follow‑up of problems raised, it was not possible to ensure that these were satisfactorily resolved. On a more global level there is no reporting on the Humanitarian Implementation Plan to provide an overview of results and lessons learnt. The results achieved overall for the projects examined were satisfactory. One partner, however, managed to spend most of its budget despite achieving a small percentage of the planned results. In a few cases the justification for time extensions and additional budgets was not apparent. As regards the Commission’s own assessment of results it was unclear how they arrived at their conclusions. While the desirability of Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development has been widely accepted by the Commission and other donors, there are very few examples of this being applied in practice. Without very actively pursuing this goal there is a danger that opportunities to move from humanitarian aid to development aid will be missed.
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