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Independent evaluation of CAMEALEON

September 2022 — By Conflict Management Consulting

CAMEALEON is an independent initiative to provide monitoring, evaluation, accountability and learning support to the World Food Programme (WFP)’s multi-purpose cash (MPC) programme for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. Established in 2017, CAMEALEON’s main purpose is to bridge evidence gaps, strengthen transparency and accountability to beneficiaries, provide quality assurance, reinforce Value for Money (VfM) and inform continuous improvement of the WFP multi-purpose cash programme. CAMEALEON also aims to inform and improve cash programming globally.

This evaluation aimed to assess the programmatic impact of CAMEALEON and to what extent its research, analysis and recommendations have contributed to strengthen the WFP multi-purpose cash programme and informed the wider cash response in Lebanon. The evaluation also considered what contributions CAMEALEON has made to humanitarian cash thinking and practice globally, including independent MEAL provision for large-scale cash programmes.

The evaluation findings show that CAMEALEON has made an important contribution to the effectiveness and efficiency of WFP’s multi-purpose cash programme and has provided much sought-after VfM information that has allowed for better accountability of UN agencies. However, the lack of a system to track the implementation details of accepted recommendations has made it difficult to gather detailed evidence of CAMEALEON’s impact on WFP programming.

CAMEALEON has produced a considerable number of research and analysis products that aim to strengthen the accountability
systems and safe programming provisions of WFP’s multi-purpose cash programme. Overall, the evaluation team concludes that CAMEALEON has added significant value in Lebanon in terms of creating greater transparency and accountability within the UN system and to affected populations—the Syrian refugee households for whom the WFP cash programme provides a lifeline.

However, the evaluation findings show that CAMEALEON’s impact on programme delivery can be improved, as the recipients still face many challenges highlighted by CAMEALEON’s recommendations. Challenges include safety at ATMs, costs related to communicating with WFP and journeys to the ATMs, and finally, the lack of clarity on the targeting criteria used by WFP.
CAMEALEON has had success in influencing the wider cash response in Lebanon and has been celebrated by the humanitarian community for the quality of its products, the dedication of its team and its impact on the quality of the cash responses globally. CAMEALEON has been active at the regional and global level and is widely respected as an institution contributing to important learning on the quality of the humanitarian response.

CAMEALEON has faced many challenges that critically impact its ability to deliver effective MEAL services. Basic questions regarding CAMEALEON’s core mandate and ways of working with WFP (scope, co-planning, research questions, and methodologies), as well as donor engagement need clarity and commitment in order for any next phases to operate successfully.
Concerns raised during the 2020 IRMA learning review regarding the membership of WFP on the Steering Committee, and sign off on CAMEALEON research and recommendations remain unresolved. Negotiation and sign off processes make CAMEALEON less effective and impact the timeliness of CAMEALEON’s products.

Another major challenge to CAMEALEON’s effectiveness and efficiency is that UNHCR is not under the third-party MEAL system or part of the governance structure, despite having a very similar cash assistance portfolio to WFP and shared systems under the LOUISE platform. As a result, CAMEALEON has not been able to make many formal recommendations on targeting due to the shared system with UNHCR. WFP has questioned whether the research sample sizes are representative, thus casting doubt on the validity of research findings. The evaluation also highlights that difficulty accessing WFP data is a significant factor impacting CAMEALEON’S work. The situation has forced the CAMEALEON team to adopt a piecemeal approach to data collection and instead obtain data through its own research.

The lack of understanding of WFP’s systems and inability to plan side by side with WFP was also a key challenge affecting the efficiency of CAMEALEON’s work. Many key informants stressed that there had been greater expectations on the programme donors to support CAMEALEON’s request to access WFP data and track how accepted recommendations were taken forward and operationalized. The findings show that there has been a general lack of accountability and engagement in this regard from the donor, although steps have been taken to bring onboard a donor focal point to facilitate greater engagement.