WFP support to Ebola recovery goes beyond food and nutrition assistance in Sierra Leone. In 2016, WFP launched an Ebola relief and recovery operation to rebuild livelihoods lost during the outbreak. To this end, WFP is supporting the Government’s Office of National Security (ONS) to build national capabilities in emergency preparedness and rapid response. ONS assumed the role of coordination of Ebola activities, which was previously run by the National Ebola Response Centre. WFP works closely with the Disaster Management Department within ONS to augment its logistics, early warning, and geospatial mapping capacity.
During the Ebola response, WFP constructed a training facility in Port Loko district, approximately 45 miles outside of the capital Freetown. The training facility continues to serve as an operational hub for WFP, government counterparts and humanitarian partners to conduct trainings and workshops on critical aspects of contingency planning for future emergencies in Sierra Leone. As part of WFP’s mandate to work with ONS to enhance national capabilities, WFP conducted an assessment in August 2016 to determine the technical areas ONS staff had prioritised for training. An overwhelming number of staff requested training on monitoring and evaluation (M&E). WFP has a dedicated M&E team based in Freetown, Port Loko and Kenema who developed a 2-day training and accompanying modules for ONS staff.
ONS staff from the central office in Freetown and district offices convened at the Port Loko training facility to learn the fundamentals of monitoring and evaluation (M&E), including the development of logical frameworks, data quality and management, and the stages of project cycles. Almost 80 percent of the participants currently work on research and M&E within their district office at ONS. However, half of the participants have between 1-2 years of professional work experience, thus, were selected as they would greatly benefit from the additional hands-on, practical training.
MuhammadNasir Khan, WFP M&E Officer who facilitated the training stressed the importance of putting in place a robust M&E system to track data that can sometimes be lost during an emergency. Furthermore, the process helps to improve accountability and can help to better tailor the response based on information collected during the monitoring exercise and evaluation findings. “Although we work across different departments, when there is an emergency, we all work as one”, Sabiatu Bakarr, an assistant researcher at ONS.
Participants took a pre-test before the workshop began to gauge their knowledge on M&E concepts and a post-test to see how they were able to apply what they learned in the training. The tests were given on graphic tablets to familiarize themselves with utilizing technology to manage data. Additionally, the WFP facilitators were able to upload the test results in real time and analyse the data to modify the training based on participants’ needs.
“It is an eye opener for me, it will help to improve the work we do as an institution. It gives me an advantage in my department to pass this knowledge onto my colleagues who have not been able to benefit from it,” John Kabba Sessay. Mr. Sesay is part of the newly established and dedicated monitoring and evaluation department. Mr. Sesay and his colleagues stressed the importance of learning about the logical framework and differentiating between inputs, outputs, outcomes, impacts when monitoring and assessing their projects.
For some of the participants, this is one of a series of WFP trainings they’ve attended at the Port Loko facility. In 2016, WFP conducted workshops on logistics, stock management and conducted a comprehensive Ebola simulation, which acted as a ‘stress test’ to improve the humanitarian community’s rapid response capabilities. WFP aims to incorporate lessons learned from the Ebola response into each training for ONS staff and strengthen coordination amongst the Government, WFP and partners. “The aspects of M&E required for project management complement our department’s work in disaster management”, John Kabba Sesay.
“We’re hoping to receive more of these trainings in early warning, data analysis and data management, so WFP can capacitate national institutions to respond to emergencies in the longer-term,” exclaimed Mr. Sesay after receiving his certificate for completing the training.