8. Learning and evaluation activities

Checklist

  • Organise an After Action Review.
  • Conduct an evaluation when required.

CARE’s Policy on Evaluations is available at Annex 9.1. This policy highlights CARE’s commitment to learning from humanitarian response with a view to improve our practices and policies for future responses. All CARE COs are required to comply with this learning policy. Support and advice can be provided by CEG for learning activities.

CARE’s policy requires COs to hold an AAR for each large-scale (Type 2 and 4) humanitarian crisis. Country Offices responding to smaller (Type 1) crisis are also encouraged to conduct a brief ‘lessons learned’ exercise following the response.

What is an After Action Review (AAR)?

An AAR is an internal performance review and lessons learned exercise that takes place within the first 3-4 months of a crisis response. It usually takes a workshop format and brings together key staff who have been involved in the response from the CO, CARE Lead and other parts of CARE.  It is independently facilitated (i.e. external to the response) and takes into account external and internal feedback collected before the workshop. An AAR draws both positive and negative lessons, and leads to recommendations to CARE management for improving humanitarian response policy and practice.

What is the purpose of an AAR?

The overall goal of the AAR is to contribute to CARE’s understanding of its crisis response performance and to help to promote learning and accountability throughout CARE International. More specifically, the AAR:

  • Provides a space for staff to capture key learning at a critical juncture of a humanitarian crisis response
  • Generates lessons learned that can be shared across CI
  • Makes recommendations to CARE management (CO, CI and CARE Members) for improving humanitarian response policy and practice

 

The following annexes can assist with organising an After Action Review:

Annex 9.10      Practical guidance for organising an AAR

Annex 9.11      Terms of Reference for AAR facilitator

Annex 9.12      Sample AAR agenda

Annex 9.13      Sample AAR report

An evaluation can be defined as ‘…a systematic and impartial examination of humanitarian action intended to draw lessons to improve policy and practice and practice and enhance accountability‘ (ALNAP, 2001). CARE’s current policy states that external evaluations are optional but will usually be carried out in cases where at least one of the following conditions has been met:

  • involves a large-scale commitment of resources
  • has strategic implications for CARE
  • has piloted innovative approaches that could become standard good practice in future emergency responses.

An evaluation should be led by an external, independent facilitator. The terms of reference for the evaluation should describe how the results will be used.

As with the AAR, the CO has the primary responsibility to identify funding, and organise and manage the evaluation. An external evaluation led by a professional evaluator can typically costs USD20,000-35,000. In some circumstances, a joint evaluation with partner agencies may be more appropriate. While an evaluation (with the exception of real-time evaluations) usually don’t take place until several months after the emergency event, there are a few planning and budgeting steps that need to be taken during the early stages of an emergency response. For more details see the following annexes.

Annex 9.14      Sample TOR for an evaluation

Annex 9.15      Sample format for an evaluation report

Annex 9.16      ALNAP’s evaluation quality proforma