The international and national response to the needs in Ethiopia was substantial. Since the scale of the crisis became clear in the latter part of 2015, international donors contributed US$ 985 million to the humanitarian response effort, and the Government of Ethiopia made available US$ 735 million and a humanitarian catastrophe of an immense magnitude was averted. It was a successful outcome from a humanitarian response perspective. But there was a recognition that things could have been done better. It was in this context the the STAIT was invited by the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) to facilitate a lessons learned exercise to help the humanitarian team to prepare for similar crises more effectively.
The STAIT mission was comprised of only two core staff from the project. The team worked closely with OCHA on the methodology of the mission and with the extended humanitarian team in-country to assess the humanitarian response and drawing out lessons learned that will help the team prepare better for future similar crises in the country.
The international and national response to the crisis was substantial. Since the scale of the crisis became clear in the latter part of 2015, international donors contributed US$ 985 million to the humanitarian response effort, and the Government of Ethiopia made available US$ 735 million. The response was considered largely successful, and arguably helped to prevent mass mortality and preserved people’s livelihoods. At the same time, there was a recognition that some aspects of the response could have been better. The mission worked with an extended Ethiopia Humanitarian Country Team (EHCT) on the final day of the mission to develop an Action Plan which highlighted key areas which the team could work on to mitigate the impact of droughts and floods on vulnerable communities in the future.
The Action Plan suggested the development of a five-year vision to link humanitarian and development systems under national leadership to make sure humanitarian and development interventions are mutually reinforcing, and not operating separately from each other. There was a feeling that donors should be able to adapt their funding modalities to permit a more predictable arrangement for ‘flexing’ development funds towards humanitarian needs when it is required. And there was a general agreement that more accurate data and information systems were still needed to create a strong evidence-base for collective decision-making, early warning and early action to prevent the worst impacts of a drought situation on vulnerable people.
This STAIT mission to Ethiopia differed from the majority of its missions in that it supported an OCHA-initiated lessons learned exercise. In this regard, the standard Update Report on progress against the HCT Action Plan was not requested. But the HC did confirm to periodically reviewing their efforts to be well-prepared for future crises with the Ethiopia Humanitarian Country Team and key development partners, in a nod to the importance of the New Way of Working concept.