Technical Working Session: July 23 - 25, 2002

"Standardizing Survey Methodology:


Policy Session: July 26, 2002

"Promoting Policy and Program Priorities Based on Data



Introduction to Workshop

Anne Ralte, Humanitarian Assistance Advisor, Bureau for Policy and Program Coordination, USAID

 Thank you all for coming and especially to those who have traveled so far to be here.  Thank you for your interest and participation in this discussion.  Most of all, thank you for your care and commitment to those who need our help.  The overwhelming response shows that this workshop is needed.  It is for those who need our help that we strive to improve our methods.  It is for those who need our help that we are here today.

 We have one objective for the Technical Working Session, from Tuesday through Thursday (July 23 - 25).  It is to recommend a standardized, generic survey methodology that captures the most essential set of data in every emergency for making decisions. This workshop provides a forum for addressing problems and limitations with what is currently being used.  It is the first workshop that is bringing together all relief organizations to deal with this critical problem.  Therefore, the issues are many, but due to time constraints, some issues will have to be dealt as a follow-up. This is the first part of a process that will continue, in particular the training of our implementing partners. The methodology should be technically sound and simple, that is do-able by our partners, in particular PVOs/NGOs. This should be the balance. I encourage you (PVOs/NGOs) to be active in the discussions and make this methodology work for you.

The process will continue through the Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) initiative. This is an interagency effort to deal with commonly shared issues in monitoring, reporting and evaluation of humanitarian assistance.  As a beginning, SMART is addressing health and nutrition indicators that are commonly used in relief situations.  This workshop will provide the foundation to develop commonly shared indicators for transition, and/or other indicators for emergencies. This workshop is also part of a broader technical assistance support system being established, so that our implementing partners have the tools and resources needed to get the job done.  We would like to establish a listserve to tap the technical pool of experts (represented in this workshop) who will be available for rapid response to questions from field practitioners.  A website (which will be linked to Reliefweb, Nutritionnet and others) has been established that will connect all participating organizations.  It serves as a workspace to park relevant information.  I ask that the recommendations from this workshop be made in the spirit of appreciation for the field worker, and to help their work - which is our collective work. This will also help us measure what progress we have made as a group, and how well we have done our work.

The Policy Session on July 26th brings us together with policy and decision-makers. There is a need to understand each other, and for technical people to communicate the valuable data in a language that is understandable. This session will not completely solve this gap, but hopefully will give us an idea of how decisions are made, and how technical data could be presented to influence decision-making that will save lives.

This is the effort of many organizations, and we owe lots of thanks to lots of people. First, thank you to American Red Cross for providing us this conference hall. We appreciate their staff time. Others who sponsored the workshop are Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (State/PRM), and USAID - Africa Bureau, Global Health, and the Office of Food for Peace of the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance.  A special thank you to State/PRM for coming through with last minute funding requests, and for helping us move this forward as a joint U.S. Government effort.

We could not have undertaken this workshop without the assistance of the Food and Nutrition Technical Assistance Project (FANTA) and Food Aid Management (FAM) who coordinated this workshop. A special thank you to Trish and Emma for dealing so well with the unexpected increase of participants from the planned level of 50 to over 100.

We also thank those organizations and individuals who provided valuable technical input in developing this agenda.  We thank the organizations for supporting their participation and their time. This includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in particular Brad Woodruff, Debarati Sapir-Guha from the Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Diseases (CRED), Nancy Mock from Tulane University (who has launched this website and is coordinating the Information Management Group), Maire Connolly and Alessandro Colombo from World Health Organization (WHO), Brian Jones and Claudine Prudhon from the Refugee Nutrition Information System, the United Nations Standing Committee on Nutrition (RNIS/SCN), Rita Bhatia from World Food Program (WFP), and Marjatta Tolvenan from UNICEF.  We are also grateful to SCF/UK, World Vision, CARE and others who agreed to help us with this workshop on very short notice. Thank you for all your support, and making the process so easy to coordinate.

Last but not least, I thank my bureau, the Bureau for Policy and Program Coordination, for supporting this groundbreaking effort.  Many organizations are here because of the vision launched several years ago.  A special thank you to Bill Renison who got all of us involved back then in this important process.

Let's all work together now and keep focused on why we are here. It is not about ourselves, but our commitment to helping those who need us.  It is about saving lives.

I hope you will find your time spent here worthwhile.

Thank you all.





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