Early response is the guiding principle for containing epidemics and crises. This is shown by analyses of Ebola projects: "The costs of late responses are hard to quantify, but studies have suggested that half the caseload could have been avoided - equivalent to thousands of lives saved - if the Ebola response had arrived one month earlier" (Clarke/Dercon, 2017, p. 32). FC evaluation experience shows that early response does not always succeed, measures may come too late or the crisis develops unexpectedly, as the Asian Development Bank also points out: "Design rapidly, but be mindful of quality at entry" (Vijayaraghavan, 2020, S. 3). KfW Development Bank stated in 2016: "Even with more predictable crises – such as food crises in the Horn of Africa – the international response tends to be slow and thus inefficient and expensive" (KfW, 2016).
When designing additional development cooperation (DC) approaches, lead times and the stage of the pandemic to be expected during implementation should therefore be taken into account. Where rapid solutions are required, the effective interaction of humanitarian aid and DC is important and cooperation with established (UN) institutions should be considered.
Flexible and harmonised financing is useful when circumstances are dynamic and unpredictable. Often, co-financing of multilateral organisations, as far as possible untied to a specific purpose, is an effective and efficient instrument to ensure that measures are tailored to needs in dynamic intervention contexts. In Yemen, when the civil war escalated in 2015, unpurposed FC funds for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) made it possible to distribute food at short notice – to all Yemenis without exclusionary character. Accordingly, the FC evaluations generally confirm the positive effects of co-financing.
Ownership is central to success and sustainability, but the question of who bears the risk often remains unclear. In the response to the Ebola crisis, overburdened national governments have shown a lack of clarity about who takes responsibility: national governments, the World Health Organization (WHO) or donors (Clarke/Dercon, 2016, p. 17/18)? Broad institutional support is desirable to raise awareness among national actors that pandemic control measures are a contribution to a global public good (Vijayaraghavan, 2020, p. 3).
Community-based approaches have been identified as relevant for success by numerous evaluation studies. Close cooperation with local actors helps to identify the urgency for immediate support and to act accordingly. Communication adapted to the cultural context and the involvement of local leaders are important for the success of the project. This was also a success factor in combating the Ebola crisis (Vijayaraghavan, 2020, p. 3).
Do no harm is an important guiding principle in the planning of measures in conflict and disaster situations. It is based on vulnerability analyses that take into account not only health care, but also the economic situation and existing lines of conflict.
DC implementation partners such as the United Nations or international non-governmental organisations can be exposed to increased risks, inter alia through increased access restrictions, but also by becoming the target of hostility, propaganda or attacks. Here too, it is possible to build on Ebola experience: Humanitarian aid and development cooperation should avoid strengthening the position of conflict parties or leading to changes in power structures. For a conflict-sensitive response to natural disasters, see our evaluation reports on tsunami projects in South East Asia.
Cost increases in a crisis situation should be anticipated at an early stage in order to be able to offer efficient and needs-based services for crisis management. Since national and global infrastructure often functions only to a limited extent, supply chain bottlenecks result in higher prices for food and consumer goods and in increased suffering for those affected by the crisis. In 2015, for example, the cost of implementing the World Food Programme's interventions for successful food aid in Yemen increased significantly compared to previous projects.