8. Learning and evaluation activities


  • Organise an After Action Review.
  • Conduct an evaluation when required.

CARE’s Policy on Evaluations is available at Annex 9.1. This policy highlights CARE’s commitment to learning from humanitarian response with a view to improve our practices and policies for future responses. All CARE COs are required to comply with this learning policy. Support and advice can be provided by CEG for learning activities.

CARE’s policy requires COs to hold an AAR after each large-scale (Type 2) emergency within 3-4 months of the start of the emergency event. Country Offices responding to smaller (Type 1) emergencies are also encouraged to conduct a brief ‘lessons learned’ exercise following the response.

The purpose of an AAR is to capture and learn from lessons, so that improvements can be made in CARE’s operational procedures, structures and policy. These will include recommendations to senior management in the CO, CARE and Lead Member. The AAR will usually take a workshop format that involves key staff in the emergency response from the CO, the Lead Member and other parts of CARE.

An AAR typically costs approximately USD5,000 plus participant costs.

The following annexes can assist with organising an After Action Review:

Annex 9.10      Practical guidance for organising an AAR

Annex 9.11      Terms of Reference for AAR facilitator

Annex 9.12      Sample AAR agenda

Annex 9.13      Sample AAR report

An evaluation can be defined as ‘…a systematic and impartial examination of humanitarian action intended to draw lessons to improve policy and practice and practice and enhance accountability‘ (ALNAP, 2001). CARE’s current policy states that external evaluations are optional but will usually be carried out in cases where at least one of the following conditions has been met:

  • involves a large-scale commitment of resources
  • has strategic implications for CARE
  • has piloted innovative approaches that could become standard good practice in future emergency responses.

An evaluation should be led by an external, independent facilitator. The terms of reference for the evaluation should describe how the results will be used.

As with the AAR, the CO has the primary responsibility to identify funding, and organise and manage the evaluation. An external evaluation led by a professional evaluator can typically costs USD20,000-35,000. In some circumstances, a joint evaluation with partner agencies may be more appropriate. While an evaluation (with the exception of real-time evaluations) usually don’t take place until several months after the emergency event, there are a few planning and budgeting steps that need to be taken during the early stages of an emergency response. For more details see the following annexes.

Annex 9.14      Sample TOR for an evaluation

Annex 9.15      Sample format for an evaluation report

Annex 9.16      ALNAP’s evaluation quality proforma