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close this bookCommunity Emergency Preparedness: A Manual for Managers and Policy-Makers (WHO, 1999, 141 p.)
close this folderChapter 6 Monitoring and evaluation
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentProject management
View the documentChecklists
View the documentExercises
View the documentSummary

Project management

The means of monitoring and evaluating during the implementation phase of a project include: measuring the progress toward project objectives; performing an analysis to find the cause of deviations in the project; and determining corrective actions. (See Annex 1 for more details.)

Projects involve analysing the present and past, predicting the future, making changes, and developing new ideas and products for future use. Very often the analyses, predictions, changes, and new ideas and products are not entirely correct, and over time the environment in which the project is being implemented will change. In each part of the emergency preparedness process described in this manual it is possible to make mistakes, and there is always room for improvement.

Policies describe long-term goals and assign responsibilities, and may establish work practices and decision criteria. It is possible, however, that a policy goal may be set too high to be achieved or be incorrect in other ways. Policy review cannot be continuous, or the basis for all emergency management programmes would be continually altering and individual projects would not be completed. Policy-makers should remain receptive to criticism and suggestions, and should periodically review policies in the light of experience, changes in the policy and emergency management environment, and new challenges that arise, remembering that policy development is a participatory process. If a policy is embodied in legislation, a common reaction to suggestions for change is “But we can’t, it’s the law!” Laws are made to be useful and can be changed when they no longer serve their purpose.

Vulnerability assessment can determine community vulnerabilities, describe hazards and the harm they may cause, and provide information for all aspects of emergency management. The accuracy of a vulnerability assessment is determined by the quality of:

- community participation;
- the information used;
- the resources applied;
- the assumptions about the community, the environment, and the hazards;
- the conceptual models.

Vulnerability assessment will never present a perfectly correct picture of vulnerability, hazards, and potential emergencies. When an emergency has occurred, it is often discovered that the models used to describe the behaviour of a hazard are incorrect. For example, actual floods rarely follow precisely the flood heights and time scales predicted. The models therefore need to be fine-tuned. Assumptions about community vulnerability sometimes prove unfounded, and predictions of community behaviour during emergencies are not always correct. Thus, the analysis of emergencies - even minor ones that cause little harm - can yield information that will make a vulnerability assessment more accurate.

There is also inevitable change in the community, environment, and vulnerability. Effective vulnerability reduction and emergency preparedness programmes will create changes for the better, and economic, environmental, and social influences may create changes for the worse. Thus, vulnerability assessment needs to be reviewed periodically.

Emergency planning is intended to protect the community and its environment, and to reduce uncertainty and confusion during emergencies. Sometimes emergency plans do not work. One of the most common reasons for this is that plans were developed in isolation and not communicated to the right people. Other reasons may include:

- poor communication (both technical and personal) during the emergency;

- lack of coordination of response work, leading to duplication, inefficiency, and ineffectiveness;

- lack of resources for the problems at hand.

After each emergency, an analysis of the events and actions that occurred is required. Each organization involved should hold debriefings, and then there should be a single debriefing for representatives of all organizations. A debriefing entails presenting facts of the emergency, describing the role that each person or organization played, and evaluating the actions taken. While debriefings are instructive for those who participate, they should also be documented and used to improve emergency planning.