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The evaluation covered all WFP activities in the northeast from 2016 to 2018. It assessed the appropriateness of design and delivery, operational performance and factors and quality of strategic decision-making.

The evaluation concluded that the ability of WFP to rapidly scale up was impressive and is credibly associated with food security improvements. Effective scale-up was underpinned by the efficient recruiting of a large complement of national staff, effective supply chain and common services. WFP was slower to deliver a high-quality response, however.

The complexity and scale of the food security crisis in Northeast Nigeria requires multi-agency action. There are important opportunities to further develop and strengthen coordination and partnership approaches. Increasing attention on the role of  WFP in strengthening the capacity of national institutions has not yet been matched by investment in staff capacities, resources or guidance. 

Looking forward, a more robust approach is required to ensure that beneficiaries move to government support or other sustainable livelihood opportunities. Given the continuing high rates of food insecurity and the highly unpredictable security situation, life-saving assistance is a continuing priority, for which WFP needs to advocate vigorously.

Key findings

Alignment with identified humanitarian needs and relevant national policies - 1
The WFP response was appropriate and technically consistent with national development and emergency response policies. WFP contributed to improved assessment of needs. There was a lack of transparency, however, between assessment results and WFP operational plans.
Alignment with identified humanitarian needs and relevant national policies - 2
The nutrition strategy was well-adapted to the circumstances. While an initial cash-based response was appropriate, assessment of the most appropriate delivery mechanism was inadequate. The value of in-kind and cash-based transfers, and nutrition commodities, was generally appropriate but changes to the food basket resulted in a greater burden on beneficiaries. Specific vulnerable groups were prioritized, but the type of assistance was not specifically adapted to their needs. Risks were identified from the outset but important protection risks were not addressed in a timely way. Important opportunities for gender analysis were missed. WFP struggled to adhere to humanitarian principles.
Operational performance and results - 1
Initial efforts to build national capacities showed limited progress. Once established in-country however, WFP achieved an impressive scale-up, reaching more than one million beneficiaries by January 2017. However, achievements fell somewhat short of targets, with limited available evidence of outcomes, particularly for nutrition and livelihood activities. Attention to gender was inadequate, despite some positive achievements.
Operational performance and results - 2
The rapid scale-up affected the quality of programmes. Initial targeting and registration processes enabled WFP to quickly distribute assistance but resulted in persistent inclusion and exclusion errors. Challenges in using mobile money also persisted. The delivery and utility of common services generally exceeded targets and the role of UNHAS was pivotal in expanding partners’ access to affected people.
Factors and quality of strategic decision making - 1
The decision on WFP’s entry into Nigeria was slow and delayed by political factors. The regional bureau for West Africa played an important role in establishing operations in-country but the country office struggled with frequent changes in leadership and other staffing challenges. Corporately, WFP’s ability to respond to five concurrent Level 3 responses through the emergency roster was stretched.
Factors and quality of strategic decision making - 2
WFP made considerable efforts to establish partnerships with a diverse range of stakeholders. WFP engaged broadly with government coordination mechanisms although coordination responsibilities in Government were at times unclear. WFP missed opportunities to build Government capacity for preparedness and emergency response more holistically. Operations were relatively well-resourced due to sharing of information on the severity of the crisis, including Nigeria as part of the “four famines” global appeal and declaring a level 3 emergency. Humanitarian access increased considerably with WFP’s operations expanding geographically from two local government areas in 2016 to 27 in 2018. Access, however, still remains heavily constrained leading to the roll-out of a humanitarian country team access strategy and civil-military coordination guidance in 2018.