The Inter-Agency Evaluation of the COVID-19 response is the largest inter-agency humanitarian evaluation to date. The subject of the evaluation is the collective IASC preparedness and humanitarian response at the global, regional, and country levels to meet the humanitarian needs of people in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. The evaluation is global and includes eight case studies (Bangladesh, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Philippines, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Syria, and Turkey). The evaluation also includes two learning papers that provide a more in-depth analysis of two specific issues associated with the response Lessons Learned on Global Humanitarian Response Plan and Localization in the COVID-19 response.
The IAHE finds that despite being already severely overstretched, the humanitarian community expanded and adapted its programming to meet the needs of a vastly larger humanitarian caseload and provide a safety net for millions of people who would otherwise have gone without assistance. While international humanitarian actors rose to the occasion, the level of worldwide restrictions on international aid underscored the opportunity costs of humanitarian actors not having advanced long-sought reforms, particularly for more locally led humanitarian action and strengthening accountability to affected people. Greater progress in these important areas would have helped the COVID-19 humanitarian response to meet the needs of all vulnerable people more appropriately; expand the available capacities to deliver; more adequately prevent the risks of sexual exploitation and abuse and address the trust deficit with affected communities, which was so essential to the promotion of healthy behaviors to contain the pandemic.
Despite many hopes raised by the crises, the report finds that the main challenge to advancing some of the high-potential agendas was not a lack of knowledge or understanding but a lack of leadership, incentives, and commitments on behalf of major players to make changes to the current aid architecture. Drawing lessons learned from the pandemic, the IAHE report formulates several recommendations to the IASC, focusing on accelerating humanitarian reforms and improving preparedness for the next pandemic.