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Terms of reference for Georgetown Evaluation of Southern African Food Security Relief of 2002/03

Georgetown University Institute for the Study of International Migration


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This Spring, Georgetown University is conducting an independent, impartial case-study evaluation of the current famine relief programs in southern Africa, that will look in particular at the impact of foreign aid, the logistics and management lessons of aid agencies working in the region, a cost-benefit analysis of the strategies pursued in delivering aid, the policy complications raised by concerns about genetically modified foods, and the particular complexities created by high HIV/AIDS prevalence among the famine-affected populations.

The evaluation team will conduct interviews and site visits in the field. The team will meet with UN agencies, NGOs and donors in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and South Africa. Other team members will conduct complementary inquries and desktop research from Washington, DC. The evaluation will investigate questions with regard to each of the following topics:

  1. Map out the food insecurity problems: where populations have been or are now in greatest need of emergency relief, and their patterns of vulnerability. The evaluation will summarise the various models and theories that have been presented to explain why there is a food crisis, including the links between HIV/AIDS and household coping strategies.
  2. Paint an overall portrait of the mix of agencies that responded to the famine, and which areas and numbers of emergency-affected they have been reaching, as well as how agencies selected their target locations, and what key donor grants or contracts were awarded in the famine relief.
  3. Map the supply chain, who/where of procurement, transport, value added (milling, bagging), wholesale distribution (WFP to NGOs), and retail distribution (NGOs to beneficiaries). Particular focus will be given to the details of the aid flows of and handovers among the key relief agencies: WFP, the Red Cross, CARE, Save the Children, World Vision and Catholic Relief Services. As such, this evaluation will examine how does the 2002/03 southern African famine differ from past famines in the region, particularly the large regional famine of 1992, when an equal or greater global mobilisation of food aid occurred? That operation was considered to be the first-of-its kind for the region, and new systems (SADC, FEWS) were put into place. In which ways did the 2002/2003 relief effort benefit from the lessons of the 1992 famine, and systems tested, validated, in place, and how were these early warning and targeting systems used? Which aspects of the logistics system were the limiting factors and how did agencies increase throughput, whether through early response, added transport capacity, or through the use of locally purchased foods in region? What contingencies, losses, delays, demurrage factored into the logistician’s job in selecting routes and vendors?
  4. Map out the roles of commercial vendors at each step of the way, documenting their financial stake, the scale of business, the particulars of the transactions (hard vs. local currency, letters of credit or cash on demand…), the nature of the relationships (long term, indefinite quantity contracts, standby arrangements), the value added provided by each company/business, and how they see their roles in the relief operation (any social sensibility attached) or the extent to which they see that as a way to create or enter new markets.
  5. Calculate the costs and benefits of different famine relief strategies, as well as comprehensive, picture of the total costs (all agencies, all activities included) of the cost structure of the supply line, and compare with the supply chains to remote refugee camps (for example of Angolans, Congolese, Rwandans in northern Zambia).
  6. Focus throughout on performance indicators: what do agencies use, what indicators do they have at their disposal, which they might be ignoring? Are there commercial indicators for transport and trade in the region that we can use for contrast, whether from prior years or the current time period? What performance indicators make the most sense, particularly for any new software systems that we would hope to standardise efforts like this in the future?
  7. Document what aid agencies can do or are doing to address the special challenge of recovery feedings of AIDS victims who were enrolled in supplementary feed because of famine relief targetting, not intended as a long-term medical response. How are the relief feeding protocols of aid agencies adapting to this conundrum? What larger issues confront the humanitarian aid system (the community, principallly the donors), from the interaction of AIDS amd food insecurity?
  8. How has the Genetically Modified foods issue played out in the famine relief? Map out the facts of how public policy evolved in each of the affected countries, and how policies about acceptance/imports of genetically modified foods affected (caused delays, re-directions) of food aid in pipeline, and the consequences in terms of a) food reaching emergency affected populations in a timely manner, b) the resulting cost inefficiencies (if any), and how they were managed, c) how NGOs deliberated and decided to play roles in either or both of the public policy (voice) domain or the implementing domain, using genetically modified foods, and d) lessons or cautions for the future, to what extent genetically modified foods may be a greater or lesser complicating factor in food shortages in this part of Africa or in other parts of the world. A particular logistic and management issue includes milling of foods (in South Africa or Mozambique, mostly, but also in Zimbabwe) as one measure to reduce the potential harms due to genetically modified maize/corn.
  9. How are decisions made? How do key managers base their decisions on how much of finite budgets and food resources to allocate at different times? What mental or written models do they use in their calculations? In general, throughout, weave in how the relief effort built upon lessons from other aid operations (Kosovo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Cambodia, Rwanda…) or had parallels that help aid analysts to see the larger context in the longer-run.
The evaluation will view the entire famine-affected region as a single case. Desktop studies will draw out evidence from other parts of the region as well, including Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana and Mozambique.

This research is supported by The Fritz Institute, based in San Fransisco, about which more can be found at

Contacts for the evaluation include:
Andrew Schoenholtz
Steve Hansch
Don Krumm
Or via the ISIM office at fax: 202-687-2541; 3307 M Street NW, Suite 302, Washington, DC

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