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This strategic evaluation covers the full range of emergencies WFP responds to from preparedness, immediate response and longer-term response through to exit. The evaluation is organized around the contribution that WFP capacity makes to the quality of its emergency responses. It considers WFP capacities at three interdependent levels - the enabling environment, the organization and the individual.

The evaluation concluded that:

  • WFP has increased its capacity to respond to the increased number and scale of emergency responses over the past decade. However, capacities notably at the individual level are over-stretched.
  • WFP has invested in surge mechanisms, training and duty of care for employees with some success. But constraints to developing and sustaining access to needed expertise across emergency contexts and phases of responses risk undermining the quality of emergency responses.
  • WFP has developed capacity to deal with the growing complexity of emergency responses and to respond to external trends. However, the lack of an organization-wide emergency response framework constrains linked-up planning for the development of WFP capacities.
  • When confronting competing priorities, WFP consistently prioritizes efficiency and coverage. More attention needs to be paid to other aspects of preparedness to make sure responses remain relevant.
  • WFP’s contribution to sector-wide responses is highly valued and contributes to inter-agency efficiency and better coverage. Evolving roles and UN reform mean that new guidance and clarification will be needed.
  • Limitations in WFP corporate monitoring frameworks and systems constrain oversight of the effectiveness of its responses. Effective learning platforms are also lacking.

    Key findings

    The enabling environment
    Most policies have been developed through standalone processes, resulting in some overlaps and competing priorities. There are also some gaps in the current overall policy framework and limited guidance to cover the range of contexts in which WFP operates. However, the limited support given to the application of policies and to guidance for the increasingly diverse ways of working in different contexts, as well as the limited investment in knowledge management, combined to constrain the quality of responses across all types of context.
    Organizational capacity - 1
    WFP has strengthened its decision-making processes for emergency response. WFP response to funding constraints yields mixed results in terms of coverage of affected populations. Geographical targeting was generally good but its ability to focus targeting was often constrained by the drive to reach as many people as possible quickly. WFP advance financing mechanisms and related facilities have yielded positive results, but their potential contribution is at times constrained by illiquidity.
    Organizational capacity - 2
    The development of guidance and tools adaptable to different contexts is good, but field-level awareness and consistent use of guidance is not always strong. WFP has developed effective tools, ways of working and partnerships that help to reach affected people in insecure locations. Yet it faces difficulties in responding to varied needs, particularly in the early stages of responses and with regard to evolving needs in protracted emergencies. Corporate systems for monitoring the effectiveness of emergency response are limited particularly in relation to effectiveness and other aspects of the quality of the response.
    Organizational capacity - 3
    Investment in WFP’s preparedness for response, including WFP early warning systems, have improved the efficiency of responses. WFP’s potential contributions to approaches connecting humanitarian, development and peace work are limited by lack of practical guidance and limited programme options. WFP capacity in common service provision has enabled greater efficiency and coverage. WFP has developed a practical approach to accountability to affected populations, but still has some way to go to meet commitments.
    Individual capacity
    WFP successfully scaled up and allocated its workforce to support emergency responses. WFP has made significant progress in meetings its duty of care to employees. There have been skills gaps, particularly beyond the initial wave of deployments as well as in smaller scale emergencies. Substantial investment in building skills reflect awareness of skills gaps, but there is mixed evidence regarding their effectiveness. WFP’s efforts to enhance its access to expertise has focused on surge mechanisms. These have had some positive results, but proven insufficient to meet all emergency response needs across stages and types of emergency responses.