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Needs Assessment and Analysis

Evidence has shown that coordinating needs assessments and analysis improvise our ability to effectively and efficiently respond to crises and enhances trust in the overall humanitarian response. The identification of needs cannot exist in isolation of an overall analysis of the context in which the crises has occurred, and the current situation. Conducting this analysis using a joint, inter-sectoral approach allows for a more holistic understanding of the inter-relationships between needs, their root causes and underlying vulnerabilities and allows for a more targeted response.

A coordinated approach to needs assessments involves humanitarian and, where possible, development actors to plan and carry out needs assessments to avoid duplication, reduce gaps and obtain a stronger overall vision of the crises. Harmonized assessments occur when agencies collect, process and analyze data separate, but where data is sufficiently comparable to be compiled and used in a shared analysis. Joint assessments occur when data collection, processing and analysis form one single processes among agencies within and among clusters/sectors and result in a single report.

Coordinated assessments form the basis for context specific and needs-based strategic planning and system-wide monitoring, and constitute the first phase of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle.

A series of tools and guidance to support and strengthen coordinated assessments in humanitarian contexts are available, such as:

  • IASC Operational Guidance for Coordinated Assessments: The guidance explains the agreed methodologies, approaches and roles and responsibilities identified as best practice for coordinating assessments and analysis.
  • IASC Multi-Cluster/Sector Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) guidance: The guidance explains how to jointly design and execute a joint, multi-sectoral needs assessment in the initial weeks of an emergency, including IASC system-wide level 3 emergency responses (L3). It is a precursor to subsequent cluster/sectoral needs assessments.
  • Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) template: The HNO document compiles results from various sectoral and multi-sectoral assessments to identify priority humanitarian needs to be addressed. It feeds into the next stage of the programme cycle, strategic planning. It also highlights information gaps and country plans to address these gaps.
  • Humanitarian Indicator Registry: The registry lists the principal needs and response monitoring indicators for each sector/cluster and provides a unique identifier, similar to a p-code, for every indicator.
  • The Humanitarian Dashboard: It?is one of the four priority OCHA information products and is an IASC agreed tool that presents a succinct and primarily visual overview of progress towards meeting needs in a humanitarian response. It allows stakeholders to quickly understand the strategic priorities of a response, the key figures characterizing the crisis, and the most important humanitarian needs and related response per sector.
  • Kobo Toolbox: Kobo Toolbox is a suite of open source software for field mobile data collection and analysis, which can be used in needs assessments to promote a standardised, reliable, simple and efficient approach.
  • Data Entry and Exploratory Platform (DEEP): DEEP is a collaborative online platform that supports the coordinated collection, sharing and analysis of crisis data to improve monitoring, context, situation and risk analysis. It allows various actors to jointly define scope, methods, processes and tools to make sense of structured and unstructured data from a variety of sources.

The Needs and Response Analysis Section (NARAS) within the Assessment Planning and Monitoring Branch (APMB) in Geneva provides guidance and coordinative support to assist humanitarian actors in a reaching common understanding of the humanitarian situation and needs, and to guide the next steps of strategic planning, monitoring and resource-mobilization.

NARAS also leads internal efforts to build OCHA and partners’ capacity to coordinate multi-sectoral assessments and analysis. This includes clarifying the OCHA policy on coordinated assessments, enhancing staff capacity at global, regional and country levels to coordinate assessment and analysis, and providing technical advice to OCHA field offices on assessments and joint analysis across sectors.