Evaluation of NPA’s approach in humanitarian assistance and relief based on cooperation with local partners

About the publication

  • Published: May 2015
  • Series: --
  • Type: NGO reviews
  • Carried out by: Scott Jones and Kelly Simcock, Mind the Gap
  • Commissioned by: Norsk Folkehjelp
  • Country: Somalia, Lebanon
  • Theme: Emergency assistance and relief
  • Pages: 64
  • Serial number: --
  • ISBN: --
  • ISSN: --
  • Organization: Norsk Folkehjelp
  • Project number: QZA 11/0896-1
NB! The publication is ONLY available online and can not be ordered on paper.


NPA aims to uphold a capacity to respond to crisis situations, and will always do so in cooperation with local partners. While the main focus of NPA over the last decade has been long-term cooperation, humanitarian assistance constitutes approximately 14 % of NPAs total international turnover. NPA’s involvement in humanitarian assistance and relief has had less focus than our long-term cooperation, and is in need of a process of more systematic organizational learning based on existing experience. We wish that this evaluation shall contribute to such organizational learning and to systematizing the NPA experience in humanitarian assistance.


This is an internal report to NPA’s International Department on an evaluation of NPA’s experience in humanitarian assistance and relief based on cooperation with local partners. The main evaluation purpose was to assess the effectiveness of NPA and partners to provide humanitarian assistance and relief, in order to contribute to organisational learning and development.


The evaluation employed a methodology which started with a desk study of relevant plans, reports and evaluations. The desk study reviewed NPA policies, proposals, applications and reports to donors, reports from partners, and project evaluations. The evaluation also included field studies to the selected countries (Somalia and Lebanon) and a review of relevant program documents, field visits and interviews with NPA staff, partners and their constituencies/ authorities in selected countries, interviews with staff at NPA HO, and possibly representatives from donors. 
The evaluation team will also receive supporting information from South Sudan, Myanmar and Iraq/Syria.

Key findings

NPA has developed a partnership model that ensures effective, relevant humanitarian assistance and which is capable of delivering long-term impact and building sustainable change. The benefits of a partnership model, and the lack of alternatives in some of the contexts evaluated, strongly indicate that a partnership model is by far the most effective approach to humanitarian assistance for NPA where at all possible. Indeed, NPA’s particular approach to partnership is grounded on three of the most important aspects of current cross-national thinking on humanitarian assistance: resilience, innovation and capacity building.


Partnership approaches should be the norm. Develop clear decision rules for exceptions

  • Develop more transparent and verifiable mechanisms for partner assessment and selection
  • Develop more transparent mechanisms for assessing the fundamental principle ‘Do No Harm’
  • Formalise NPA’s humanitarian assistance model in terms of ‘Resilence’
  • Make explicit how NPA’s values inform policy, strategy and translate into operational success
  • Examine mechanisms for improving NPA’s speed of decision-making in different crises scenarios
  • Formalise learning and knowledge management in Humanitarian Assistance, and NPA’s work more broadly, beginning with a review of existing strengths and gaps in how NPA captures, analyses and shares knowledge and learning
  • Improve the development and rigorous use of indicators not only for reporting but also for learning.
  • Consider possibilities for a specialist ‘home’ for learning and knowledge exchange/management – perhaps like a Learning Hub
  • Strengthen cross-partner learning and peer-review
  • Consider scope for NPA to contribute to humanitarian assistance research
  • Agree NPA’s distinctiveness and niche in humanitarian assistance
  • Review and describe how NPA is connected with humanitarian assistance networks and alliances.
  • Emphasise the value of the SOLIDAR alliance (and others) in the next International Strategy. In other documents, emphasise agreed NPA/alliance shared strategies, and how these reflect NPA’s humanitarian assistance and relief goals
  • Formalise decision rules about working with an alliance model
  • Introduce a standardised, locally flexible programme and project management system
  • Ensure that risk analysis is much more robust, and is routinely used
  • Ensure that relevant conflict analysis tools are known and used
  • Consider mainstreaming gender and environment analyses
  • Develop a corporately branded tool kit of relevant, simple, accessible and enaging tools for analysis
  • Develop a partnership assessment tool from partnership criteria in NPA’s Partnership Strategy
  • Decouple the phrase ‘humanitarian assistance’ from the word ‘relief’
  • Reframe ‘assistance’ and ‘relief’ within the language and conceptual framework of resilience thinking
  • Consider longer funding-cycles in line with a resilience approach to humanitarian assistance
  • Consider having a head office (and possibly regional) leader(s) for humanitarian assistance
  • Review the pros and cons of NPA’s decentrailised approach vis-à-vis humanitarian assistance, and perhaps more broadly
  • Invest in an internal and external marketing, communications and outreach strategy specifically for humanitarian assistance that explains clearly what NPA’s humanitarian assistance is actually achieving, and why it is so special

Comments from the organisation, if any

The NPA is currently developing a comprehensive strategy for the humanitarian sector. The recommendations from this evaluation will be fundamental in this strategy.

Published 02.06.2015
Last updated 02.06.2015