This study focuses on the impact of interventions to prepare communities in the face of natural or weather-related emergencies and humanitarian situations.
Natural disasters, such as floods and earthquakes, can cause great losses in human and physical capital. The impact of these events can be particularly disastrous in developing countries that are often underprepared for such emergencies. Catastrophes intensify already existing community vulnerabilities, such as a lack of proper shelter, livelihoods and sanitation, contributing to malnutrition and the spread of disease.
Pakistan is particularly prone to natural disasters, which leave behind critical gaps in basic services and heighten vulnerabilities within the affected communities. Natural disasters are often followed by chronic malnutrition. In this setting, humanitarian interventions targeting areas that face a high likelihood of recurrent exposure to natural disasters or emergencies are key to preventing degradation of the already fragile communities and making them more resilient to future disasters.
The core question addressed in this study is whether regions that are exposed to disasters causing developmental degradation can overcome their geographical disadvantage through better preparedness to extreme weather shocks.
This study evaluated the impact of the Basic Humanitarian Aid Package (BHP), a residual recovery and preparedness programme delivered by the NGO ACTED in two rural districts of Sindh, Pakistan in 2016. The BHP includes interventions in shelter and non-food items; water, sanitation and hygiene; and food security and livelihoods.
The purpose of the BHP is to build local resilience by meeting life-saving needs, supporting community-level recovery and enhancing coping capacities for future events.
In early 2016, the BHP programme was randomly allocated to 148 clusters of sub-villages, while an additional 139 clusters did not receive the humanitarian package (the control group).
The implementation of BHP followed the randomisation. Midline data collection took place between November 2016 and January 2017, when the BHP implementation was completed. The final wave of data collection was conducted between November 2017 and January 2018.
This study provides evidence of the socio-economic impacts of BHP and beneficiary behaviour adaptation resulting from the enhancement training delivered by ACTED.
Overall, treated villages were more likely to have safe shelters, better sanitation and safe water, and more likely to apply new fertility and livestock management techniques.
With the help of three-year panel data and a random allocation of village clusters to the programme, authors find that the eﬀects persisted one year after programme closure in the respective areas.
Additionally, these interventions translated into a higher likelihood for villagers to own livestock, as well as villages facing fewer damaged shelters in areas that were affected by extreme weather events.
The evaluation also showed that the villagers adopted and applied the preparedness messages delivered by ACTED.
In the course of the three-year study, approximately one in every five villages experienced an extreme weather event and to a similar extent in treatment and control clusters. Exploring the interaction effect of humanitarian aid and extreme weather events (especially exceptionally heavy rainfalls in the summer of 2016), the study captured household's resilience with respect to the coping strategies chosen, income and health-related outcomes.
In affected areas, households with ex-ante recovery and preparedness interventions have ex-post fewer damaged shelters and more livestock. In the case of extreme weather events, households that resided in clusters that received the BHP had fewer problems with respect to meeting their food needs. Living in a cluster that received treatment reduced the number of households where at least one member had diarrhea or was sick during the previous month.