Caritas international

Impact orientation

What is the impact of our humanitarian aid?

Junge Schülerinnen mit KopftuchDoes the humanitarian aid really get to the people?Pieter-Jan DePue/Caritas-international

For the purpose of quality assurance, Caritas international, the relief organisation of the German Caritas Association, together with the Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe, have developed a "Plan for impact orientation”. The report has meanwhile been published and uses ten evaluations to draw an initial conclusion.

Humanitarian organisations have long been monitoring the impact of their projects and using this as a basis for inferring future work. Over the past years, it has been justifiably requested that a more accurate analysis be made of the actual overall impact of the aid given. It is comparatively simple to provide an account of how much food and medicine has been distributed. Quantifying a positive overall impact is much more difficult. For instance, after a natural disaster, how is it possible to ensure that necessary shipments of aid do not have a negative effect on the local market?

Humanitarian aid needs specific impact monitoring

Great advances have been made in the development of verifiable quality standards. However, this has in part led to a separation of theory and project practice. Moreover, from the perspective of Caritas international, a specific approach for emergency and disaster relief is lacking. In the case of long-term social development projects, it is possible to thoroughly analyse the initial situation and thus be in a position to recognise and examine changes later on. Not so in acute disaster situations, where extensive before-and-after comparisons are not possible. Time is of the essence. And it is necessary to act fast on the basis of requirements analysis.

Self-assessment with learning effect

Monitoring impact to determine success shows whether and how the people’s situation has changed in a distressed area. Before-and-after comparisons also indicate how future projects need to be set up. With this form of self-assessment, Caritas international would like to ensure that the limited donations generate maximum impact for those receiving aid.

Caritas international is required to clearly and comprehensibly document the use and impact of its work vis-à-vis the general public and donors as well as institutions which provide funding. Today it is no longer sufficient to name the effective expenditure and the number of people in need who were helped. The orientation of impact helps clarify which aspects of aid are critical in which context.

Ten experience reports praised as "best practice”

The report submitted in 2016 provides an introduction to the current state of the debate with a section on the theory and then grants extensive insight into the practice of monitoring impact using ten project examples. The publication was explicitly praised as an example of "best practice” in the transparency ranking of "Phineo”, a not-for-profit consulting institute. In a ranking published at the end of 2016 by Spiegel Online, Caritas international was recognised for its successful efforts in the area of impact transparency, placing in the top group chosen from 40 major relief organisations.

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