I don't know about you ... but for me the following is self-serving and not very informative. The information is from the InterAction website http://www.interaction.org/crisis-list/earthquake-haiti and purports to inform how members of the InterAction network have performed in the Haiti crisis. The example is from Lutheran World Relief, but there were 40 odd other organizations in the InterAction list that could be have been used as an example instead.
Lutheran World Relief's Response to the Earthquake in HaitiThe description sounds like it is telling you something with several "numbers" quoted:
Donation Phone #: 800-597-5972
700 Light St
Baltimore, MD, 21230, United States
LWR has committed $2.25 million for relief and development efforts, and is working with partners on the ground to provide food, water, sanitation and shelter both in the capital of Port-au-Prince and in rural communities affected by mass migration. In addition to significant financial support, LWR has committed 1,600 health kits, 11,500 quilts and 1,500 layettes, material resources valued at nearly $500,000. LWR is also implementing a long term response with a focus on agricultural rehabilitation and rural livelihoods, and has dispatched a team to coordinate with our partners on the ground. For more information or to donate please see www.lwr.org/haiti.
- $2.25 million committed for food, water, sanitation and shelter.
- 1,600 health kits, 11,500 quilts, 1,500 layettes ... a total of 14,600 items that apparently have a value of $500,000 ... that is a little more than $34 each.
And to add further information and confusion, there are "partners on the ground".
How on earth does anyone get a comfort level about the accounting and accountability with dataflows like this. I am impressed, but thoroughly confused ... and as a former auditor, awfully suspicious that there is much more of puffery than of substance.
I am reminded of some work I did many years ago when an international organization delivered some 50,000 metric tons of rice ... valuing it at $700/MT or a total of $35 million. The problem was that the world price of rice at the time was only $200/MT and it would have been more appropriate to value the donation at $10 million. For many mis-information like this does not matter much ... for me, and many serious minded analysts this is important.
I believe we can do a whole lot better reporting critical information, and making information more credible and more verifiable.
There should be summary information that is clear about the various elements of cost ... salaries, food, non-food items, equipment, travel, field expenses, etc.
There should be clarity about the time period ... is it a month, is it cumulative since the start, etc.
There should be clarity about what the money numbers mean ... what has been mobilized, what has been disbursed, what has been committed, what is still in the bank!
There should be spatial information ... where have the activities funded taken place. This ties into a community centric analysis that is central to Community Analytics (CA)
There should be organization information and multi-level fund flow analysis. High level organizations lose track quickly as funds flow down through multiple levels of subsidiary organization.
In the end, it should be possible to relate how much resource has been consumed with how much impact has been achieved. At the moment the "accountability" process seems to go no further than simply to justify further donations from a quite dumb public!