Relief and recovery interventions

Impact evaluation in the post-disaster setting: a luxury or an essential?

April 7, 2010

Speaker: Dr Howard White

The humanitarian and development communities invest billions of dollars each year in post-disaster relief and recovery efforts. There is, therefore, an urgent need to build evidence on what interventions have worked so that the same mistakes are not made after when the next disaster strikes.

“While some might say that impact evaluation is a luxury in a post-disaster situation, not doing an impact evaluation is actually the luxury you cannot afford. In a post-disaster situation, we need to see what works and what doesn’t and how cost-effective it is,” said Dr Howard White, 3ie Executive Director. 

Conducting an impact evaluation presents some serious and unique challenges – such as the lack of baseline data or the ethical issues of excluding individuals from relief and recovery by creating a comparison group. However, Dr White pointed out that there is plenty of scope and time to conduct quality impact evaluations during the reconstruction phase.  There are ways to also reconstruct a baseline by using pre-disaster household surveys, needs assessment data, recall and Census-based poverty estimates. Other challenges raised include the limited time to plan and implement interventions and the triple selection bias from selection in exposure to the shock in the first place, selection from out migration and selection in programme placement.

To download Dr White’s presentation, click here.

Scroll to Top