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On June 25, 2015, Microlinks hosted a webinar in Washington, D.C. on three organizations' experiences to date with the relatively new Pre-Crisis Market Mapping Analysis (PCMMA) approach. Emily Sloane (International Rescue Committee), Emily Farr (Oxfam America), and Dina Brick (Catholic Relief Service) presented lessons learned from recent PCMMAs they helped to conduct in Pakistan, Ethiopia and Sudan, respectively, highlighting various challenges encountered as well as the approach's potential to improve the efficiency of, and decrease the need for, emergency response.
In this recent post on his Haiti Blog, Dr. Timothy Schwartz does credit EMMA as an “intuitively useful and easy to apply tool,” but his praise ends there. Recognizing that the tool is increasingly being used to guide humanitarian agencies in designing emergency responses, he highlights several fairly serious erroneous conclusions made during the numerous EMMA assessments conducted in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. For example, EMMA teams mistakenly identified male-owned gardens as female-owned ones and reported a significant decrease in incomes in an area later shown to be drowning in remittance payments. Such errors are perhaps to be expected, suggests Schwartz, when assessments are carried out by humanitarian first responders, or "people who have little understanding of the local culture or economy, or who are seeking to corroborate specific expectations."
According to Schwartz, such errors stem from researchers' failure to identify formal sector business interests, pressure to conform to NGO mandates such as prioritizing assistance for women, the avoidance of stigmatized environmentally or politically incorrect industries, such as the Haitian market for local timber and the risk of locals exagerrating (and researchers believing) the extent of their suffering in order to qualify for increased humanitarian assistance, especially during the gap analysis portion of EMMA.
The author concludes his post with, “Most of the problems identified with the EMMA strategy could be summed up as byproducts of researchers who are unfamiliar with the country and working for institutions embedded in the formal economy trying to research and assess in a couple weeks what is an overwhelmingly informal, highly complex, and poorly understood economy. The conundrum is especially applicable in the case of Haiti.”
To see the full article, please go to the Haiti Blog.