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Meta-Evaluation of ACF Fresh Food Voucher Programs

Meta-Evaluation of ACF Fresh Food Voucher Programs

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As a leading partner in the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP), Action Against Hunger plays a key role in both applying and evaluating new methods for delivering aid to crisis-hit populations. By issuing cash-backed vouchers instead of material goods, organizations like Action Against Hunger can ensure that those affected by emergencies are able to get what they most need, while local vendors are not put out of business by distributions of free food and supplies.
As a leading partner in the Cash Learning Partnership (CaLP), Action Against Hunger plays a key role in both applying and evaluating new methods for delivering aid to crisis-hit populations. By issuing cash-backed vouchers instead of material goods, organizations like Action Against Hunger can ensure that those affected by emergencies are able to get what they most need, while local vendors are not put out of business by distributions of free food and supplies.

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Published by: Action Against Hunger / ACF-USA on Sep 24, 2012
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Meta-evaluation o ACF’s Emergency Fresh Food Voucher Programmes
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Meta-evaluation o  ACFs Emergency Food Voucher Programmesin 5 Countries
 
MeTa-evaluaTiOnO aC resHOOd vOuCHerPrOgraMMes
 
Many people have contributed to the development o the Meta-Evaluation o ACF’s Fresh Food VoucherProgrammes, and their inputs were received with much appreciation, though it is impossible to name themall. Thanks to all sta and country programme members who have contributed with discussions and ideas.This publication was developed by Kerren Hedlund in coordination with an internal ACF review working groupconsisting o Ben Allen, Maria Bernardez, Muriel Calo, Saul Guerrero, Julien Jacob, Julien Morel, PanosNavrozidis, Silke Pietzsch, Michael Yemene, and Chloe Milloz Bouby. Kendra Hughbanks has supported thenalisation o the meta-evaluation.The Meta–Evaluation or ACF’s Fresh Food Voucher Programmes was unded through the Cash LearningPartnership (CaLP) with nancial support rom ECHO.Photographic images used or the document were provided by ACF Bolivia, ACF Ivory Coast, ACF Kenya, ACF Occupied Palestine Territories, ACF Pakistan and ACF South Sudan.
 Acknowledgements
BoHtKyOccp Pt TtoPkt
 January 201
MeTa-evaluaTiOnO aC resHOOd vOuCHerPrOgraMMes
EUROPEAN COMMISSION
Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection
 
Meta-evaluation o ACF’s Emergency Fresh Food Voucher Programmes
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 ACF commissioned a meta-evaluation o 5 o its resh ood voucherprogrammes implemented between 2009-2011 during emergenciesin Bolivia, Dadaab reugee camps in Kenya, Haiti, Pakistan and theoccupied Palestinian Territories (oPT). The programmes were allpaper cash-vouchers exchanged or resh oods
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in local markets. Inthe case o Bolivia, Dadaab and Haiti, the resh ood voucher wasdesigned to complement a general ood distribution. In Pakistan,the voucher replaced general ood distribution ater marketsdemonstrated some degree o recovery. In oPT, the voucher initially targeted those vulnerable to ood insecurity who presumably hadsucient economic resources to meet staple ood needs. Objectivesranged primarily rom increasing dietary diversity and ensuring anadequate diet to reducing micronutrient malnutrition, preventingmortality or malnutrition, and other ood security and livelihoodsobjectives, e.g. reducing negative coping mechanisms. The primary ndings are as ollows:Fresh ood vouchers increased dietary diversity in all programmes, butwith mixed degree o result largely resulting rom aults in design andimplementation that can be better managed in the uture. In the caseo Haiti, dietary diversity only increased marginally (to pre-earthquakelevels which were already poor) in part due to the lack o a generalration which may have led a signicant portion o beneciaries to usesome o their voucher or staple oods. The importance o guaranteeinga staple ood supply either through cash-based interventions and/orin-kind distributions is essential, and lack thereo may have resultedin an increase in acute malnutrition in some project areas during theFFV programme in Bolivia. That said, in three o the 5 countries studieswhere comparisons are possible, the relative cost eectiveness (changein ood consumption) was signicantly higher or FFV compared to in-kind staple ood distribution only. FFV also correlated with lower rateso anaemia (Bolivia), increase in nutritional programme attendance(Dadaab), declines in acute malnutrition (Dadaab and Haiti), andincome replacement and thereore reallocation o income to otherlivelihoods needs and protection o assets (oPT and Pakistan). As thecause (and cure) o acute malnutrition is complex, attribution remainsa challenge. Furthermore, none o the programmes systematically measured beneciaries’ knowledge, attitude and practice (KAP) oa healthy diet. Thereore it is not clear that i simply cash had beenprovided, the programmes could have achieved the same impact aswell as saeguarding the other advantages o CBIs, e.g. fexibility andchoice, dignity and cost-eciency.By-in-large, needs assessments identied poor dietary diversity as aproblem, largely caused by lack o access to resh oods. Whereascausal analysis o acute and micronutrient malnutrition was usually poor with the exception o Bolivia. Where market assessments wererigorous (Haiti, Pakistan, and oPT) and market monitoring systemseective, ACF was much more ecient (and eective) at monitoringsupply, adjusting the value o the voucher, and assessing the impacto the voucher on local markets. Baselines and monitoring remain akey challenge where both process and impact monitoring indicators,tools and systems need to refect a programme’s objectives, and shouldinclude both individual and household indicators o a healthy diet,particularly when the outcome indicator is the child’s nutritional status.The lack o this important inormation makes it dicult to interpretunexpected outcomes such as when pre-FFV household dietary diversity increases presumably due to increased supply, whereaschildren o the same household remain acutely malnourished (Dadaab)and how complementary programmes, such as grants to small shopspost-crisis (Pakistan) can contribute to recovery and income generation.Fresh ood vouchers also demonstrated their utility as a marketsupport mechanism with increase in vendor incomes in all country programmes, particularly benetting women vendors in Haiti andDadaab, recovering shops post-food Pakistan, and the dairy sectorin oPT. Market assessments need to determine not only i markets canrespond to an increase in demand but also how can humanitarianinterventions support markets to recover. To do so equally rigorousmonitoring systems including baselines and appropriate indicatorssuch as monthly revenue, debt levels and/or recourse to credit needto be developed and systematically implemented. The lack o suchvaluable inormation made it dicult to veriy anecdotal reportsin Dadaab, Haiti and Pakistan. Particularly interesting is how anincrease in demand can result in an increase in supply and thereoreimproved ood consumption among non-beneciaries (Dadaab).Other ndings not specic to resh ood vouchers are included in thedetailed report, and consist o the importance o adequate planning,stang, monitoring, and nancial systems that ensure promptpayment o participating vendors. With experience and advancesin technologies these areas are improving. Accountability systemsneed to allow or beneciary eedback and ensure responsivenesso programmes to beneciary and vendor needs. The greatercollaboration between nancial institutions and humanitarianagencies can increase accountability and reduce costs.Fresh ood vouchers appear to be proving their utility as one tool toimprove ood consumption in emergencies, either as a complementto general ood distribution and/or when the voucher includes stapleoods. Fresh ood vouchers also show potential as a complement to,and importantly - when coordinated with - other nutrition-relatedactivities, e.g. supplementary and therapeutic eeding, nutritioneducation and other public health promotion activities, in line with ACF’s Maximising the Nutritional Impacts o Food Security andLivelihoods Interventions. However more analysis based on greaterrigor in nutritional causal analysis, dening objectives and programmelogic (the role o the voucher) as well as monitoring and evaluation isneeded in programmes implemented by ACF and other agencies. Moreexperience with and evaluation o voucher programmes will provideinsight into their appropriateness and their cost-eectiveness as acomplementary means o preventing, reducing or treating acute andmicronutrient malnutrition.
exct smmy o 
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With the exception o Pakistanvoucher which included staple oods.

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