Ethiopia is the second most populated country in Africa and the country hosting the second largest refugee population in the continent (after Uganda). In spite of high economic growth in recent year and significant achievements in terms of extreme poverty reduction, Ethiopia remains one of the poorest countries in Africa and the population is vulnerable to climatic shocks and seasonal food insecurity.
The evaluation concluded that the “reactive” approach adopted by the country office during the period was relevant and appropriate for responding to the needs of Ethiopian nationals and of refugees. It recognized the key role played by WFP in the 2015/2016 drought response.
The country office suffered, in practical and reputational terms, from lack of leadership continuity and a perceived lack of strategic focus. Trying to match staffing to income levels while simultaneously dealing with major humanitarian crises put the country office under unprecedented strain. Acknowledged weaknesses in monitoring and reporting hampered strategic reflection and affected donor confidence.
In the coming period, with the staffing review nearing completion, significant improvements to monitoring and evaluation initiated, new leadership in place and the development of a CSP under way, WFP has an unmissable opportunity to address past shortcomings and define and strengthen its future role in Ethiopia.
The evaluation made 8 recommendations for WFP, which were all agreed by management:
1. Ensure that discontinuities in senior staffing levels are not allowed to recur and ensure timely recruitment for key posts;
2. Ensure that the CSP preparation process is outward looking so that the CSP is credible with the government and donors, who must share WFP’s perspective on WFP’s future role;
3. Use resilience as a conceptual framework for linking humanitarian and development objectives, addressing the resilience of national institutions as well as that of households and individuals;
4. Strengthen monitoring, evaluation and learning: ensure adequate staffing, prepare a strategy which takes into account the fact that WFP is predominantly a contributor to joint programmes;
5. Strengthen nutrition: conduct a situation analysis working with Government and other actors, in order to identify where WFP has the most added value;
6. Work with partners to ensure adequate and timely funding that meets humanitarian needs whilst also supporting evolution towards more sustainable approaches. Join other UN agencies on insisting that humanitarian principles are observed;
7. Strengthen attention to gender, both at programme level and within the WFP country office staffing structure;
8. Strengthen protection and accountability to affected population; wherever appropriate, through strengthening national systems.