Strength in Numbers

Global Mapping Review of NGO Engagement in Coordinated Assessments
Andy Featherstone, on behalf of the ECB, July 2011

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Strength in Numbers: Global Mapping Review of NGO Engagement in Coordinated Assessments
Andy Featherstone, July 2011

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
1. Introduction Problem Statement The collection of data and information on the impact of disasters has long been considered a key element in being able to ensure that the most appropriate assistance of the right quality is provided at the right time but evidence suggests that practice falls short of aspirations. With no single commonly accepted methodology, it has been difficult to respond to accusations that the sector is approaching the important task of humanitarian response inefficiently, a claim that was made by the 2005 Humanitarian Response Review (HRR) and which has since been echoed in successive evaluations of the response to large-scale humanitarian crises. While there has been growing acknowledgement of the importance of pooling knowledge and resources which has led to the development of methodologies to support coordinated multi-sectoral assessments, practical uptake of these has remained low and the results have often been disappointing, either taking too long to organize or failing to provide timely results which agencies can use to guide their humanitarian work. Purpose of the Research In seeking to make recommendations for ways to strengthen the practice of coordinated assessments (and in particular the role that the Emergency Capacity Building Project can play), this study will map experience from recent humanitarian responses, distil good practice and analyse lessons learnt. It will review the considerable progress that has been made across the burgeoning assessment initiative architecture and will use the growing body of knowledge to make recommendations for how the ECB and broader humanitarian community can focus their efforts in the future. Coordinated Needs Assessment: What? When? Why? Who? Coordinated needs assessments are ‘those which are planned and carried out in partnership with other humanitarian actors, with the results shared for the benefit of the broader humanitarian community to identify the needs of the affected population of a humanitarian crisis.’1 They can be carried out at any time after a disaster has occurred and can strengthen the effectiveness of a humanitarian action by increasing the timeliness, efficiency, coherence and coordination of the response. The focus of this research is on CNA in the first 2 phases (0-72 hours and 4-14-days) after a disaster has struck. While there are many different types of CNA, emphasis will be placed on those which include the participation of NGOs. While joint UN agency assessments exist as a discrete subset of CNAs, they will not form a significant part of this report. 2. Towards A Review of Agency Practice in CNA While a rigorous review of practice is not possible due both to time constraints and the fractured nature with which assessment reports have been archived, an analysis of coordinated assessment practice from a literature review makes it possible to make some broad observations on the practice of CNA.
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Needs Assessment Task Force (2011) Operational Guidance for Coordinated Assessments in Humanitarian Crises, Inter-Agency Standing Committee

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Observations from a review of agency practice in 48 CNAs in 2003-2011  CNA practice benefits from strong government engagement;  CNAs are more often used in rapid onset natural disasters than for conflict-related crises;  In conflict-related crises one of the motivations for CNAs is for security purposes;  While food security assessments often benefit from strong coordination they are difficult to classify;  Disasters are increasingly assessed jointly with common methodologies used by agencies;  Many of the most timely CNAs were undertaken for mid-size emergencies;  Recent large-scale CNA tend to deliver results several weeks after the crisis;

Observations from a review of assessment practice in the Philippines in 2010  The important role played by the Red Cross Movement albeit with a focus on internal CNA;  Reasons for the lack of CNA in the first 2weeks after the typhoons:  Lack of awareness;  Competition for Resources;  De-prioritisation;  The lack of an Enabling Environment.  The limited participation of government;  The lack of National NGO participation.

3. Mapping the CNA Landscape Interest in CNA has significantly increased in the last 5-years and this has been matched by a corresponding increase in the number and diversity of initiatives, methodologies and tools that have sought to harness agency interest, corral resources and strengthen collective practice.
Global Initiatives  The IASC Needs Assessment Task Force (NATF)  Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS)  OCHA Assessment and Classification of Emergencies Project (ACE)  United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination (UNDAC) Country/Regional Initiatives  Sphere India Unified Response Strategy (URS)  Vietnam Joint Disaster Rapid Needs Assessment (JDRNA)  Bangladesh Rapid Initial Report (RIR) and Rapid Emergency Needs Assessment (RENA)  Unicef Multi-Sector Indicator Block Mapping (MSiB) in Haiti Inter-agency Methodologies  Emergency Capacity Building Project – Joint Needs Assessment (JNA)  Emergency Market Mapping Analysis (EMMA)  Household Economy Analysis and the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC)  The Multi-Cluster Rapid Initial Assessment  Multi-Cluster Initial/Rapid Assessment (MIRA)  The Humanitarian Dashboard  ACAPS Secondary Data Review (SDR)  Methodology for Rapid Humanitarian Assessment (REDLAC)  European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) Initial Needs Assessment Checklist (INAC)  Cluster Assessment Methodologies:  Local Estimate of Needs for Shelter & Settlement Toolkit (LENSS)  Health Resources Availability Mapping System (HeRAMS)  Global Health Cluster Rapid Health Assessment Guidelines (RHA)  Environmental Needs Assessment in Post-Disaster Situations  The Short Guide to Rapid Joint Education Needs Assessment Toolkit

4. Progress & Pitfalls in CNA While the evidence presented in section 3 suggests cause for optimism with a diversity of initiatives providing potential for change across the sector, it would be wrong to suggest that a tipping point has been reached and it is important to temper an analysis of new and emerging practice with feedback from agency practice and from the evidence provided in successive IASC Inter-Agency Real Time Evaluation reports. A review of theses leaves little doubt that the ALNAP-authored State of the

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Humanitarian System isn’t far off the mark in concluding that ‘needs assessment remains a key weakness in the system’.2 But as this research illustrates, these weaknesses are beginning to be addressed and important lessons have been learnt which mean that a good practice cycle for CNA is becoming ever closer to being realised.3
While important progress has been made in strengthening CNA methodology and in broadening participation, the aspirations of the humanitarian community are still not being adequately served by current practice. What is required is a framework which can galvanise the full support of the sector in the earliest phases after a disaster has struck and which can provide results across multiple sectors in a timeframe that will support operational decision-making. This research has shown that despite a ‘methodology gap’ (see box 3), innovation within the sector and a growing consensus about the importance of CNA means that the many of the elements of a cycle of good practice to address this gap have either been developed or are in development.

5. The Future of Needs Assessment: Collaborative, Coordinated and Capable The recent growth of interest in CNA has seen a growing convergence of thinking on the subject. The argument for CNA is gaining acceptance and the development and use of the JNA methodology should be considered good practice; that it has the support of a coalition of 6 of the world’s largest NGOs is important in terms of providing critical mass of field experience. Given its profile and given the partnerships that the ECB has entered into with ACAPS, the ECB has significant potential to spear-head change across the sector.

CNA practice needs to coalesce around a single approach that is contextually relevant and that is communicated across a multi-stakeholder platform.
Global Level  A significant knowledge gap exists across the humanitarian community which does little to promote participation in CNA. A communications strategy and materials should be developed by OCHA in 4 partnership with ACAPS for IASC agencies to promote CNA at regional and country level.  The partnership between ACAPs, NATF, OCHA and the ECB has significant potential to change practice and it would make good sense to harmonise objectives around the promotion and dissemination of good practice in CNA. Country Level
2

Harvey P et al (2010) The State of the Humanitarian System: Assessing Performance and Progress – A Pilot Study, Active Learning network for Accountability & Performance in Humanitarian Action, London, pp.29 3 The figure is based on a more detailed one-page diagram in box 4 in section 4 of the report 4 This recommendation is encompassed in the DRAFT 2011 NATF work plan which is available at http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/pageloader.aspx?page=content-subsidi-common-default&sb=75

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As part of its responsibilities for ensuring that humanitarian action in-country is ‘coordinated…principled, 5 timely, effective and efficient’ , each HCT (or inter-agency forum) should include in its annual work plan the development of a strategy that seeks to establish a coalition of support for CNA. OCHA should play a crucial support role. This process should be led by the HC (or RC/HC) and coordinated with the Cluster leads where appropriate.

ECB Member Agencies  The JNA makes a considerable contribution to CNA and has provided important lessons, but the tool itself and methodology that supports it would benefit from further development. The ECB should commission a technical evaluation of the JNA methodology with a view to understanding its strengths and weaknesses.  The need for contextualisation of the tool has been raised in both the Bolivia and Bangladesh pilot studies, and both country teams are seeking to build broad consensus across the humanitarian community around a single tool. The Indonesia team should prioritise discussions about the adoption of a single tool for all NGO, UN and government stakeholders.  The ECB should have a strategy to promote the use of CNA beyond its 5 pilot countries in order to foster far greater engagement within the NGO (both international and national) sector.

CNA will add most value where there is strong partnership across all humanitarian stakeholders which includes the host government and national NGOs.
Global level  The development of the MIRA approach should acknowledge the diversity of humanitarian contexts and the needs for assessment tools to be adapted to the context in which they are being used. A harmonised approach that uses a modular tool to collect both strategic and operational data will likely elicit the greatest participation from humanitarian stakeholders. ECB Member Agencies  In developing the JNA pilot in Bangladesh and Bolivia, the ECB have taken the important step of exploring strategies of how to promote government participation. With the recruitment of a project manager in Indonesia, it will be important for the ECB agencies to develop a strategy to enhance the participation of the National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB).

Successful CNA will ultimately require strong leadership both at country and HQ level
Global Level  While the NATF plays an important technical role, it is the IASC member agencies themselves (and the standing invitees particularly ICVA, Interaction, SCHR, IFRC and ICRC) who have the most significant part to play in changing practice at an agency level through committing to support pilot countries and emerging CNA practice as a means of promoting broader change across the sector. It will be important to use the IASC as a means to negotiate engagement in the promotion of the new approach. Country Level  It is ultimately the HCs (or RC/HC) responsibility for ensuring the development of an approach to CNA that has broad participation throughout the humanitarian community and which benefits from the technical support of OCHA (and cluster leads where appropriate). ECB Member Agencies  The ECB has made an important contribution to CNA through the development of the JNA but outside of the pilot countries, ECB agencies still regularly choose to opt out of CNAs or have uncoordinated assessments as their default mode of responding to crises. Humanitarian leaders of ECB member agencies should use the learning from the JNA to promote CNA practice in new and emerging crises.

An important lesson which is yet to be learnt is that early phase CNAs should adopt a ‘good
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Guidance on the role of HCTs is available from http://www.who.int/hac/network/interagency/inter_agency_guidelines_country_teams.pdf

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enough’ approach that allows for timely data collection, analysis and dissemination of results.
ECB Member Agencies  Given the ECBs experience in developing ‘the Good Enough Guide to Impact Measurement and 6 Accountability in Emergencies’ there is scope for a similar contribution to be made based on experience developing and trialling the JNA and building on the experience of the NATF and ACAPS.

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Emergency Capacity Building Project (2007) The Good Enough Guide: Impact and Accountability in Emergencies, Oxfam, Oxford. Available from http://www.ecbproject.org/GoodEnoughGuide

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Table of Contents Executive Summary Table of Contents Acronyms 1. Coordinated Needs Assessment - What? When? Why? Who? 1.1 Introduction 1.2 What is a CNA? 1.3 When are CNAs Undertaken? 1.4 Why Carry out CNAs? 1.5 Who are Involved in CNAs? 2. Mapping Agency Practice in CNA 2.1 Observations from a Review of CNA between 2003 and 2011 2.2 Analysing NGO Practice: The 2010 Typhoon Response in the Philippines 3. Mapping the CNA Landscape 3.1 Global Initiatives 3.2 Country & Regional Initiatives 3.3 Interagency Methodologies 4. Progress & Pitfalls in CNA 4.1 Important Lessons for CNA Practice 4.2 The ‘Methodology Gap’ and a Cycle of Good Practice 5. The Future of Needs Assessment: Collaborative, Coordinated and Capable 5.1 Recommendations 5.2 Conclusion Annexes (Separate Document) Annex 1 Bibliography Annex 2 Terms of Reference for the Mapping Study Annex 3 CNA in Practice 2003 - 2011 Annex 4 Evaluation of Needs Assessment Practice in IA IASC-RTE 2003 - 2011 Annex 5 Survey Questionnaire & Results Annex 6 Participant List Annex 7 Glossary of Terms 26 29 32 34 36 40 41 ii vii viii 01 01 02 02 03 03 04 04 06 09 09 11 12 16 17 20 21 23 24

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Acronyms ACAPS ACE ALNAP BNPB CNA COD DNA DER ECB ECHO EMMA ERNA FACT HCT HEA IASC IDP IHL INAC IPC IRA JAM KFSSG KPK LENSS McRAM MIRA MSiB NATF NDMA NGO NWFP PHF PIFERP PONJA REDLAC RENA RHA RINAH RIR RTE SDR TEC UN UNDAC UNEP UNOCHA URS Assessment Capacities Project Assessment & Classification of Emergencies [Project] Active Learning network for Accountability & Performance in Humanitarian Action Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management Coordinated Needs Assessment Common Operational Dataset Damage Needs Assessment [Haiti] Disaster & Emergency Response Group [Bangladesh] [The] Emergency Capacity Building Project European Commission Humanitarian Office Emergency Market Mapping Analysis Early Recovery Needs Assessment [Haiti] Field Assessment Coordination Team [IFRC] Humanitarian Country Team Household Economy Analysis Inter-Agency Standing Committee Internally Displaced Person International Humanitarian Law Initial Needs Assessment Checklist Integrated Phase Classification Initial Rapid Assessment Joint Assessment Mission [Darfur] Kenya Food Security Steering Group Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province Local Estimate of Needs for Shelter & Settlement Toolkit Multi-Cluster Rapid Assessment Mission [Pakistan] Multi-Cluster Initial and Rapid Assessment methodology Multi-Sector Indicator Block Mapping Needs Assessment Task Force National Disaster Management Authority [Pakistan] Non-governmental Organisation North-West Frontier Province [now KPK] Pakistan Humanitarian Forum Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan Post-Nargis Joint Assessment Risk, Emergency, and Disaster Task Force Inter-agency Workgroup for Latin America & the Caribbean Rapid Emergency Needs Assessment [Bangladesh] Rapid health Assessment Guidelines Rapid Initial Needs Assessment for Haiti Rapid Initial Report [Bangladesh] Real Time Evaluation Secondary Data Review Tsunami Evaluation Coalition United Nations United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination United Nations Environment Programme United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance [Sphere India] Unified response Strategy

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Strength in Numbers: Global Mapping Review of NGO Engagement in Coordinated Assessments
Andy Featherstone, July 2011

Disasters and humanitarian emergencies are increasing in magnitude and complexity. This presents a major challenge to NGOs that respond to these emergencies. In order to address this challenge, emergency directors from 7 agencies - CARE International, Catholic Relief Services, International Rescue Committee, Mercy Corps, Oxfam GB, Save the Children and World Vision International - came together to form the Emergency Capacity Building Project (ECB) in 2003 to discuss the most persistent obstacles in humanitarian aid delivery. The second phase of the project began in 2008, and seeks to improve the speed, quality and effectiveness of emergency preparedness and response in the humanitarian community by building capacity at the field, global organizational and humanitarian sector levels. The ECB Project places considerable emphasis on accountability of humanitarian actors to disaster-affected populations, and participating agencies see their main “valueadded” to needs assessments not only in improving the timeliness, coherence and quality of assessment data, but also in ensuring that the views of those most affected are adequately represented.

1. Coordinated Needs Assessment: What? When? Why? Who? 1.1 Introduction Problem Statement The collection of data and information on the impact of disasters has long been considered an important factor in being able to ensure the best possible response. With the provision of needsbased assistance a core commitment of humanitarian principles, methods of determining and prioritising needs as a means of providing assistance of the right quality at the right time has been a significant preoccupation for humanitarian agencies. Consequently the needs assessment ‘landscape’ is littered with competing methodologies and good practice guides which have resulted in a variety of approaches being adopted. With no single commonly accepted methodology, it has been difficult to respond to accusations that the sector is approaching the important task of humanitarian response inefficiently, a claim that was made by the 2005 Humanitarian Response Review (HRR) and which has since been echoed in successive evaluations of the response to largescale humanitarian crises. While there has been growing acknowledgement of the importance of pooling knowledge and resources which has led to the development of methodologies to support coordinated multi-sectoral assessments, practical uptake of these has remained low and the results have often been disappointing, either taking too long to organize or failing to provide timely results which agencies can use to guide their humanitarian work. Purpose of the Report In seeking to make recommendations for ways to strengthen the practice of coordinated assessments (and in particular the role that the ECB can play), this study maps experience from recent humanitarian responses, distils good practice and analyses lessons learnt. It reviews the considerable progress that has been made across the burgeoning assessment initiative architecture and will use the growing body of knowledge to make recommendations for how the ECB and broader humanitarian community can focus their efforts in the future.

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Methodology & Limitations This research is based on consultations with staff from a range of different humanitarian actors including the UN, NGOs, Red Cross Movement and interagency initiatives based in headquarters, regional and field positions.7 The interviews covered a wide range of field contexts (Pakistan, Bolivia, Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Haiti and Bangladesh). That the researcher was tasked with making recommendations about the development of existing ECB Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) tools meant that member agency staff comprised the bulk of those interviewed and were selected on the basis of their participation in CNA. As a result, many of those interviewed tended to have an understanding of CNA and tended to be supportive of the approach. Efforts were made to broaden participation through the use of online survey which 33 people participated in8 and to the extent that time allowed, attempts were made to elicit feedback from those agencies that could be considered as early-adopters of CNA methodologies as well as those who are more sceptical of their value. The research draws on a diverse set of literature on CNA practice which was gleaned from key informants and from an extensive web-based literature search. It is important to acknowledge the lack of rigour in this approach but also to highlight broader weaknesses in archiving CNAs which have only recently begun to be addressed through OCHAs survey of surveys which has significantly improved access to assessment data. Where possible, efforts have been taken to harmonise the approach and terminology used in the document with practice elsewhere (particularly the Assessment Capacities Project [ACAPS] and the Needs Assessment Task Force [NATF]) with a view to promoting consensus on key issues amongst policy-makers and practitioners. The limited time available for the research and development of the report (12-days) meant that at best this report provides a snapshot of CNA practice. While it is hoped that this provides useful analysis, it may also be used as a route map for practitioners who wish to research specific sections in more detail. To assist in this, an expanded bibliography is provided in annex 1. 1.2 WHAT is a CNA? CNAs are ‘those which are planned and carried out in partnership with other humanitarian actors, with the results shared for the benefit of the broader humanitarian community to identify the needs of the affected population of a humanitarian crisis.’9 In its Operational Guidance document (2011), the NATF provides a classification of CNAs by type which include the following 2 categories;  Harmonized Assessment: Data collection processing and analysis is undertaken separately, however the data is sufficiently comparable (due to the use of common operational datasets, key indicators, and geographical and temporal synchronisation) to be compiled into a single database, and to serve as the subject of a shared analysis. Joint Assessment: Data collection, processing and analysis form one single process among agencies within and between clusters/sectors. This leads to a single report. This is sometimes also referred to as a 'common assessment'.

1.2 WHEN are CNAs undertaken? CNAs are carried out at any time after a disaster has occurred. The most effective approach to a CNA will depend on the phase in which an assessment is conducted and there is growing consensus around a 4-phase framework which distinguishes between assessments carried out in;
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Participants include staff from the ECB, ACAPS, OCHA, Oxfam, MSF, IFRC, Mercy Corps International, Save the Children, Care International. See Annex 6 for a list of participants 8 The survey questionnaire and results can be found in Annex 5. The last question of the survey provides a profile of those who participated 9 Needs Assessment Task Force (2011) Operational Guidance for Coordinated Assessments in Humanitarian Crises, Inter-Agency Standing Committee

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   

Phase 1, 0-72 hours: During the first 72-hours after a crisis an initial CNA is undertaken to establish the severity of the crisis. Phase 2, 1-2 weeks: In the first 2-week a CNA is undertaken (often jointly by Clusters) in order to support operational planning. Phase 3, 3-2 weeks: In the second 2-weeks Clusters harmonise the in-depth sectoral assessments undertaken by their members and participate in inter-sectoral analysis. Phase 4, 5-weeks and beyond: Early recovery considerations take greatest priority.

The first 2 phases of the framework constitute the focus of this research, both of which are considered critical for the provision of life-saving humanitarian assistance. 1.3 WHY carry out CNAs? The importance of conducting needs assessment speaks to the core humanitarian principle of impartiality10, that the provision of assistance must be based on need alone which has its basis in International Humanitarian Law (IHL). The purpose of needs assessment is to support decisionmaking on whether to intervene, what interventions are required, to determine priorities and resource needs for response and to plan and design programmes. In saying this it’s important to stress that CNAs undertaken in the early phases after a disaster are most often associated with identifying macro-priorities rather than localized programme priorities. While a 2003 study by the Overseas Development Institute on needs assessment found ‘few examples where individual assessments were undertaken according an agreed common strategy in an attempt to provide a complete picture of relative need’11, a follow-up paper on Common Needs Assessment released in 201112 provides a comprehensive endorsement of CNA which provides a list of benefits which include the following;       Efficiency: By pooling resources, CNA can achieve significant savings over individual agency assessments and in the initial stages after a disaster can reduce the chances of duplication; Timeliness: Information across many different sectors can be collected simultaneously allowing for more timely analysis of the situation; Shared Learning: By working together on assessment, agencies can develop a shared analysis; Coherence: Multi-sectoral assessments can lead to better targeting of assistance; Coordination: By coordinating assessments, there is a greater likelihood that agencies will coordinate their programmes; Effectiveness: By having a clear picture of need soon after a crisis, it is possible to better target resources.

1.4 WHO are involved in CNAs? There are many different combinations of humanitarian agencies involved in CNA but there are 4 that types tend to predominate;  UN agency Joint Assessments: Participation in these is limited to UN agencies alone with the exception of government representatives. This type of assessment was most prevalent in the

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For a full explanation of the principle of impartiality please see http://ochanet.unocha.org/p/Documents/OOM_HumPrinciple_English.pdf 11 Darcy J & Hofmann C (2003) According to Need? Needs Assessment and Decision-Making in the Humanitarian Sector, Humanitarian Policy Group Report 15, September 2003, Overseas Development Institute, London, pp.6-7 12 Garfield R et al (2011) Common Needs Assessments and Humanitarian Action, Humanitarian practice Network, Network Paper, No. 69, January 2011 (Revised April 2011), Overseas Development Institute, London

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years before the reforms that followed the publication of the Humanitarian Response Review (HRR). Inter-agency Multi-Cluster Assessments: Coordinated by OCHA, participation in these is open to those involved in the Clusters and includes UN, NGOs and government. A joint assessment tool is often used to promote sharing and analysis of data. These are most often launched in the first 2weeks after a disaster. Inter-agency Sector-specific Clusters: UN, NGO and government participation is common with the purpose of creating a baseline or expanding on the data gathered during multi-cluster assessments. These occur most frequently in phase 3 although they can also be launched in phase 2. Joint NGO Assessments: These are most often linked to phase 1 assessments and have come about as a result of the greater agility of NGOs which often (but not always) allow a far swifter deployment of assessment capacity. The ECB’s JNA is the best example. In-Depth Multi-Cluster Monitoring Missions/Damage & Needs Assessments: These cut across sectors and are used either to assess overall needs as part of a periodic monitoring survey (the Myanmar Post-Nargis Joint Assessment [PONJA]) or are to determine accurate estimates of damage and associated needs. Participation often includes a much wider set of institutions which may include Development Banks and regional institutions. These types of CNA occur either in phase 3 or phase 4.

The focus of this research is on CNA which include the participation of NGOs. While joint UN agency assessments exist as a discrete subset of CNAs, they will not form a significant part of this report.

2. Mapping Agency Practise in Coordinated Needs Assessment
While anecdotal evidence suggests that rudimentary coordinated assessments have existed for as long as the humanitarian enterprise particularly where insecurity or poor access meant that interagency assessments made sense from a security or efficiency perspective, it is only recently that progress has been made in standardising approaches and documenting practice. Joint agency initiatives to address widespread disasters such as the 1984-85 famine in Ethiopia and Eritrea and the conflict in South Sudan in the 1980’s and 1990’s certainly witnessed significant inter-agency collaborations yet these were very often coordination in name only with a review noting that Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS)13 suffered ‘a number of structural problems impeding the ability of the multilateral system to respond to humanitarian needs in civil wars’, which included ‘difficulties of obtaining sound data’.14 2.1 Observations from a Review of CNA between 2003 and 2011 While a rigorous review of practice is not possible due both to time constraints and the fractured nature with which assessment reports have been archived, an analysis of 48 CNAs makes it possible to make some broad observations on the practice of CNA (see annex 3 for a list of these, disaggregated by assessment phase). The following observations are supported by the review; CNA practice benefits from strong government engagement While the challenge of ensuring multi-stakeholder engagement in CNA is well documented, the evidence suggests that it is in countries where government is an active participant in disaster
13

OLS was the vehicle through which a consortium of UN agencies and 35 NGOs provided life-saving assistance to Southern Sudanese communities affected by the civil war between 1989 when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2004 14 Agnes Aboum T et al, T (1990) A Critical Review of Operation Lifeline Sudan: A Report to the Aid Agencies, Humanitarianism & War Project, Tufts University, pp17. Available from http://repository.forcedmigration.org/show_metadata.jsp?pid=fmo:2666

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management that provides an enabling environment for CNA. While Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam are all vulnerable to natural or man-made disaster, each benefits from strong government participation in coordination and response. In addition to these 3 countries which dominate the phase 1 and phase 2 responses documented in the list, it is noteworthy that 3 of the other CNA highlighted, for Gambia (2010), Mozambique (2008) and Maldives (2007) were undertaken in partnership with the respective government disaster management body. CNAs are more often used in rapid onset natural disasters than for conflict-related crises The majority of the timeliest CNAs were undertaken in response to natural disasters.15 While the process of classifying assessments by phase lends itself far more easily to rapid onset events such as earthquakes or flash floods the impact of which are also often more geographically focused, the fact that governments are often party to internal conflicts certainly complicates the process of launching a CNA under such circumstances. The perceived challenges of working alongside Integrated UN Missions particularly in areas of active conflict can result in a separation between NGOs and UN agencies which has consequences for participation in CNA. The findings of the online survey which accompanied this research tend to support this; of the 13 CNAs that survey participants had been involved in, only 2 of these were conflicts (DRC, 2008-2010 and Libya 2011). In conflict-related crises one of the motivations for CNAs is for operational security purposes Despite the added complexities of launching CNAs in areas of violent conflict, the research suggests that threats to staff security can also provide a significant motivation for agencies participation in joint assessments. While these can be ad-hoc arrangements based around a broad ‘look-see’ objective, there are also examples where an effort is made to harmonise results. The IDP crisis in Pakistan (2009) offers several good examples of interagency groups conducting CNAs jointly.16 The response to the conflict in Darfur in 2002-3 which at the time was considered to be one of the most insecure environments for humanitarian aid staff saw many ad-hoc interagency groups conduct CNA as well as more formalised joint assessments. While food security assessments often benefit from strong coordination they are difficult to classify using the system of assessment phases The nature of cyclical food insecurity in places such as the Horn of Africa have led to the formalisation of surveillance mechanisms which include multi-stakeholder participation, regular monitoring and an early warning system as a trigger for assessments. These are so well established in countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Ethiopia that it is difficult to speak of distinct CNA as they form part of the broader system.17 Even where such coordination mechanisms haven’t been established, the nature of food insecurity which is often spread unevenly over huge areas also makes it difficult to classify assessments by phase.18 Disasters are increasingly assessed jointly with common methodologies used by agencies

15 16

24 out of 26 CNAs were in response to natural disasters for phase 1 and phase 2 responses. The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum’s assessment of Buner Province in 2009 is a good example of this. The report is available from http://oneresponse.info/Countries/Pakistan/Pages/Reports%20and%20Assessments.aspx 17 The Ethiopia Joint Emergency Operational Plan for 2004/5/6/8/9 is the output of a broader food security early warning system. For more details, see Oman A, Completing the Jigsaw Puzzle: Joint Assessment Missions (JAM) in Field Exchange, February 2011 Issue 40, Emergency Nutrition Network, pp.40, available from www.ennonline.net/pool/files/fex/fieldexchange40.pdf 18 The Nepal Winter Drought Assessment is a good example, available from http://www.google.co.uk/url?sa=t&source=web&cd=1&ved=0CB4QFjAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Freliefweb.int%2 Fnode%2F311118&ei=qS8dTuTnBcWXhQflnOnZBw&usg=AFQjCNEIkxXkZDI0P1mgYHX5CwbeoNYfpg&sig2=qf7 Rn6KBX7nObU5WGxmsdg

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It is noteworthy that 28 of the 48 CNAs reviewed as part of this research were undertaken in the last 3-years possibly indicating a growth in the practice of CNA, but likely also reflecting the growth in online information management and storage in support of humanitarian response.19 While the lack of rigour in how the sample was collected makes it difficult to draw too many conclusions the document review shows an increase in the use of joint assessment tools such as the Multi-Cluster Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) in Nepal, the Multi-Cluster Rapid Assessment Mission (McRAM) in Pakistan, the Rapid Initial Needs Assessment (RINAH) in Haiti and the JNA framework for common NGO assessments. A review of data from earlier CNAs suggests a predilection for harmonised needs assessment which borrowed heavily from agencies own assessment tools albeit with efforts to merge data sets into a single report. Evidence of the move towards the systematic use of common assessment formats can be seen from 2004 in Vietnam (Joint Rapid Assessment), from 2006 in Nepal (IRA), from 2004 in Bangladesh (RENA & RIR) and from 2006 in parts of India (Unified Response Strategy). Many of the timeliest CNAs were undertaken for mid-size emergencies While the greatest number of CNAs have been made in response to large disasters, mid-size emergencies is smaller countries have also provided examples of good practice. CNAs in countries such as Tajikistan (2010), the Maldives (2007), Gambia (2010) and Vietnam (2006, 2010) have benefitted from better coordination between agencies. There are numerous reasons why this might be the case, but having a smaller number of agencies which share a historical presence in the country, and who have far stronger links with each other presents the best possible environment for establishing close working relationships. It is in the large emergencies such as the Haiti Earthquake (2010) and Pakistan Floods (2010) that have witnessed a significant increase in the number of humanitarian agencies, where surge staff that are often unfamiliar with the context are deployed and where coordination is much more complex that there has been a far greater challenge in launching CNAs. In such contexts, that CNAs have been delivered at all is cause for optimism. Recent large-scale CNA tend to deliver results several weeks after the crisis While it is difficult to compare different large-scale CNA as both their methodologies and intent are often very different, one common criticism is that the results have not been timely. Such processes have been criticised for attempting to collect far too much information for the phase of the crisis which has led to information overload. There have been occasions when data has not been used or has been redundant which is wasteful of resources. While Myanmar’s PONJA (2009) or Pakistan’s PDNA (2010) were never intended to inform the early phase of the humanitarian response, the RINAH in Haiti (2010) and the Pakistan Floods McRAM assessment (2010) could have potentially delivered more timely information. That said, the 26-day period it took to plan, prepare collect and process data20 was impressive and provides a platform for learning for similar exercises in the future. 2.2 Analysing NGO Practice: The 2010 Typhoon Response in the Philippines While a study of CNA practice over time can support some broad observations about the frequency and nature of coordinated assessments, valuable information can also be gleaned from a metaanalysis of evaluation practice in a single emergency response. The consolidation of assessment data in OCHA’s survey of surveys provides a very rich source of information and the data compiled for the response to the Ketsana and Parma Typhoons which made landfall in the Philippines in September and October 2010 is particularly extensive.21 While the lack of a complete data set makes it impossible to analyse the timeliness of the assessments, the information does allow some broad
19

On this issue the results of the online survey are noteworthy; of all the CNAs that respondents have participated in, the earliest is in the joint assessment following the 2007 Kyrgyzstan earthquake and 20 out of the 22 were carried out between 2009 and 2011 20 For a detailed breakdown see http://www.acaps.org/img/documents/mcram-report-121010-mcramassessment-report.pdf 21 The survey of surveys can be found at the following link; http://ph.one.un.org/response/assessments.php

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observations to be made which have been supplemented by interviews with agency staff and lessons from the literature review.
Box 1: Assessment Practice during the 2010 Philippines typhoons

Typhoon Ketsana & Parma: Assessments Profile
UNDAC UN agency INGO Gov NNGO

The important role played by the Red Cross Movement albeit with a focus on internal CNA The Red Cross Movement performed extremely well in assessing post-typhoon needs with a focus on internally coordinating their assessments. The first assessment conducted to the affected area on the day Typhoon Ketsana made landfall was jointly undertaken by the International Federation of the Red Cross, 3 National Societies and the Donor agency, ECHO. In the 28-days that followed, different members of the movement conducted a total of 9 assessments. The IFRC also participated in the joint participatory protection assessment. While the IFRC has highly developed tools and Global resources for rapidly assessing and is committed to coordination with the broader humanitarian community, the timeliness of the assessment takes precedence and participation in CNA reflects this. The lack of CNA in Philippines: Failure of ‘culture’, lack of coordination or competition? Of the 29 assessments that were launched in the first two weeks of the typhoons, only 1 of them was a ‘joint assessment’ with the participation of ECHO, Philippines, Red Cross, IOM and WFP (none of which are NGOs). Of the 10 assessments launched in phase 3, 2 of them were CNA and included significant NGO participation. The first of these was a joint food security assessment was launched on 30th October and covered the areas affected by both cyclones; the second was a participatory protection assessment and was launched on 01st November, almost a month after the second of the 2 typhoons made landfall. The failure to initiate CNA was documented in the real time evaluation of the response which reported; ‘With few exceptions, needs assessments were generally carried out to feed into individual
partners’ information needs, mostly driven by mandates and individual organisations’ activities, and not according to a coordinated analysis and common approach through the cluster system, reducing the level of efficiency…*T+he many assessments meant that large quantities of data were produced, but many interviews highlighted that data was not 22 consolidated for the purpose of providing an overall picture of needs and existing gaps.’

The lack of CNAs is intriguing particularly given the context of preparedness across the sector in the Philippines. A review of the documentation and agency interviews in support of the research suggest

22

Polastro R et al (2010) Inter-Agency Real Time Evaluation (IA-RTE) of the Humanitarian Response to Typhoons Ketsana and Parma in the Philippines, April 2010, DARA, pp.18

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several potential explanations for the failure of timely CNAs in Philippines and in emergencies more broadly: Knowledge: Some agencies simply have far too little information about CNA and hence their default response is to launch independent assessments. Senior staff and field workers who were interviewed spoke of the limited knowledge that exists about the potential benefits of CNA and steps that have been taken to make it more effective and more inclusive. This speaks to a gap in knowledge which could be addressed through greater communication and dissemination of good practice. It also speaks to a broader need of developing a culture of CNA where agencies are aware of its potential and are proactively looking for opportunities to engage in these. Competition: The second explanation for the failure of NGOs to engage in CNAs is as a result of competition within the sector. While CNA speaks to important principles that underpin humanitarian action, these are not consistently prioritised above more basic requirements such as the need for programmes to secure funding. Where there are finite resources and where humanitarian needs are great there is a considerable (and understandable) motivation to act quickly and given the limited success of rapid CNA to date agencies may be reticent to prioritise CNAs over their own assessments. De-prioritisation: Some agencies choose not to prioritise CNAs; many of the larger agencies (including many of the ECB agencies) are keen to engage in CNA where these are launched in a timely manner, through a transparent and inclusive process and use a methodology that is considered fit for purpose. However, there are also agencies that wouldn’t usually choose to engage in CNA irrespective of the process. Three reasons are most often given; the needs for operational independence, the lack of timeliness and perceptions about the limited utility of the methodologies used. The Lack of an ‘Enabling’ Environment: The fourth reason speaks to the need for an enabling environment to support CNA. Where humanitarian coordination or leadership is weak interviews suggest that agencies may be reticent to participate in CNA. Where there is a strong and respected HC, an HCT that is playing a strategic humanitarian leadership role and where OCHA has been successful in supporting an effective coordination structure which has the confidence of the humanitarian community, then there is the greatest likelihood of agency participation in CNA. The limited participation of government The data indicates that the Department of Health and Department of Agriculture each undertook a single assessment; the government of Philippines also took part in a rapid assessment within 48hours of the typhoon as part of an interagency UN assessment.23 While participation in the latter is encouraging, it does raise an important issue which was reiterated often during the interviews and was also highlighted in the real time evaluation of the 2010 Haiti response; that government is often excluded or fails to engage in disaster response;
‘Immediately after the earthquake, national and local authorities were eager to coordinate with international relief actors. However, this initial close cooperation with the national authorities was not sustained over time. Many government agencies at the national and local levels felt (and in most cases were) excluded from humanitarian coordination and decision making. As a result, the relationship between humanitarian organisations and the

23

This assessment does not appear in the ‘Survey of Surveys’ but is reported in the IASC Inter-Agency RTE of the typhoon response. See annex 4 for the relevant excerpt from the report

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government has been strained and there is a risk that the humanitarian response will further weaken the government.’24

While the host government bears the primary responsibility for assisting disaster victims, to do this effectively requires that disaster risk is proactively managed and that an effective disaster management and coordination structure is in place and it is here that both UN agencies (particularly OCHA) and NGOs can play an important capacity building role. In summarising the current situation, Harvey (2010) is correct in concluding that ‘both sides need to work at the relationship.’25 The lack of National NGO participation The lack of national NGO engagement in CNA (or as participants in any assessments) is puzzling, particularly given the strength of civil society and the capacity of the sector in the Philippines. While this could simply be an issue of under-reporting, it’s more likely indicative of a common problem relating to partnership within the humanitarian sector which is often slow to incorporate national NGO participation in coordination fora.26 Given the capacity that exists nationally and the significant role that local capacity often plays in meeting humanitarian needs as first responder after a disaster it is essential that efforts are made at country-level to encourage participation. In his paper on the Principles of Partnership, Mahmood provides a compelling case for forging partnerships at the earliest opportunity after a crisis;
‘If International organisations and local organisations work together from the start which means beginning with a needs assessment and situation analysis instead of starting from the contract, the chances for a process of dialogue and mutual learning to emerge are much 27 higher’

In this, the ECB has developed good practice in partnering with a range of international and national agencies in the use of the JNA approach but more needs to be done to build a stronger, more inclusive foundation for CNA.

3. Mapping the Coordinated Needs Assessment Landscape Interest in CNA has significantly increased in the last 5-years and this has been matched by a corresponding increase in the number and diversity of initiatives, methodologies and tools that have sought to harness agency interest, coral resources and strengthen collective practice. Rather than trying to provide an exhaustive list (a task that was undertaken by OCHA in 200928), this section seeks to document practice that either is currently or has the potential in the future to contribute to a step change in CNA practice. 3.1 Global Initiatives The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) NATF
24

Grunewald et al (2010) Inter-agency Real time Evaluation in Haiti: 3-months after the Earthquake, Urgence, Rehabilitation & Developpement & Global Public Policy Institute, pp.43 25 Harvey P (2011) The Role of National Governments in International Humanitarian Response, ALNAP Meeting th paper, 26 Annual Meeting, 16-17 November 2010, pp.7 26 For further analysis and good practice associated with partnership in the humanitarian sector see NGO’s & Humanitarian Reform Project (2010) Humanitarian Reform: Basic Information Leaflet Series – Principles of Partnership 27 Mahmood J (20xx) Cooperation and Collaboration for Effective Humanitarian Action, pp.2. 28 OCHAs 2009 Assessment & Classification of Emergencies (ACE) Project is available from http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/downloaddoc.aspx?docID=4927&type=pdf

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The HRR and the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition (TEC) report were instrumental in creating a shared commitment amongst IASC members to improving cross-sector needs assessment in a collaborative, consultative and coordinated manner. It was this commitment that led to the creation of the NATF in March 2009. With its focus on the first 2-weeks of humanitarian response (phase 1 and 2), the NATF builds on already existing initiatives29 and lessons learned by various stakeholders at the country, regional and global level and has 5 key objectives; (i) to strengthen cross-sector needs assessment coordination and leadership, (ii) to improve technical support to inter-cluster/sector needs assessment initiatives, (iii) to increase advocacy, awareness raising and resource mobilisation in the area of needs assessment, (iv) to augment needs assessment capacity building efforts, and (iv) to enhance information management mechanisms. ACAPS ACAPS was established in December 2009 by a consortium of NGOs (HelpAge International, MERLIN and Norwegian Refugee Council) with the objective of strengthening global, regional and in-country needs assessment capacities with the ultimate goal of providing a strong evidence base for emergency decision-making, leading to better response. With a focus on strengthening coordinated assessment preparedness and practice, ACAPS (i) is developing innovative assessment tools and methodologies with the vision of developing commonly accepted coordinated multi-sector assessment methodology, (ii) provides training in coordination with NATF to build capacity in the sector, and (iii) has a team of experts who can be deployed at short notice to support in-country assessment processes before, during and crises. With a strong operational learning component, ACAPS is making a significant contribution to learning in the sector with a growing database of reference documents, lessons learnt and training materials available online. It is also working collaboratively with existing initiatives, providing operational support to both the NATF and working in partnership with the ECB. OCHA Assessment and Classification of Emergencies Project (ACE) Requested by the IASC Working Group in June 2007, OCHA established the ACE Project to explore opportunities to establish synergies between IASC members and to facilitate the development of an over-arching approach to assessment and analysis. Starting with an initial mapping exercise of assessment initiatives which was completed in 2009, ACE now leads the NATF and has been working towards the harmonisation of needs assessments within clusters and the efficient coordination of needs assessments across clusters through the development of a needs assessment toolbox, preparedness measures and capacity development. It also provides direct field support to OCHA for coordinated assessments. Two specific outputs of its work include the Humanitarian Dashboard30 and the Operational Guidance for Coordinated Assessments document31 both of which are now overseen by the NATF. United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination (UNDAC) The UNDAC is part of the UN system’s sudden onset emergency response system. Created in 1993, it is designed to help governments and humanitarian agencies conduct assessments, launch search and rescue operations and coordinate their activities during the first phases of a sudden-onset emergency. The UNDAC system comprises four components: experienced staff, pre-defined

29 30

Identified by an OCHA study referred to in the footnote above The goal of the humanitarian dashboard is to support evidence-based humanitarian decision making for more needs-based, effective, and timely action. The business world is well-accustomed to dashboards for senior executives to provide a real-time overview of core data, alert potential problems, and keep operations on track for desired results 31 IASC (2011) Operational Guidance for Coordinated Assessments in Humanitarian Crises, February 01 2011. Available from http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/downloaddoc.aspx?docID=4927&type=pdf

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methods for establishing coordination structures and for facilitating assessments, systems to mobilise and deploy UNDAC teams, and specialist equipment. The UNDAC team focuses on initial rapid assessment as soon as possible after the impact of a sudden onset disaster which is aimed at determining the extent of a disaster and its impact on the population as well as needs for international assistance during the immediate relief or survival phase. The methodology is outlined in the UNDAC handbook in a 9-page assessment checklist. Once the Multi-Cluster Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) tool has been fully developed it is planned that this will be adopted by UNDAC. 3.2 Country/Regional Initiatives Sphere India Unified Response Strategy (URS) Building on the knowledge of 25 Sphere32 member organisations, the URS is an inter-agency methodology with the aim of shortening disaster response times, clarifying roles and responsibilities and minimising the duplication of relief efforts. It was developed over a period of 8-months and was initially trialled in 3 States (with 2 more participating in a limited capacity) in response to 5 floods emergencies in 2007 where inter-agency groups were established and participated in common needs assessments. The methodology is based around a common assessment format designed for phase 1 response to crisis and for which common monitoring and evaluation tools are under development. An active Google Group platform has been established for information sharing and communication and an advocacy platform has been established to highlight gaps and concerns in provision of assistance. Efforts are now focused on establishing means to quickly activate and de-activate the URS and to promote unified responses to follow from the assessments. Vietnam Joint Disaster Rapid Needs Assessment (JDRNA) The initiative for the JDRNA was borne out of frustrations at the lack of clarity and comprehensive data collection in emergencies. The Disaster Working Group, which contains UN agencies, bilateral donors and NGOs, took initial steps to coordinate their activities which led to the creation of the JDRNA, a coordinated programme planning mechanism for humanitarian assistance. While early efforts were focused on joint needs assessment through the design and use of a common assessment format, the long-term goal of the group has been to build the capacity of local communities and authorities through encouraging their participation in the assessments. The multi-sector tool is designed for use in the first 5-days after a disaster to inform immediate response and provide an indication of early recovery needs. Based on Sphere standards and the Humanitarian Charter, the JDRNA seeks to increase the speed of response and reduce the risk of duplication. Outside of disaster response, the agencies involved in JDRNA meet twice annually, with a coordinating agency maintaining oversight of logistical capacity and taking the lead on triggering the mechanism and coordinating a joint call for donor assistance. Bangladesh Rapid Initial Report (RIR) and Rapid Emergency Needs Assessment (RENA) In 2004, the interagency Disaster and Emergency Response (DER) group in Bangladesh developed two methodologies to facilitate common and timely assessment of the effect of disasters on communities. The RIR form comprised a common report form to determine immediate life-saving needs within the first 12-48-hours after a crisis. The purpose of the RENA was to identify the impact
32

Sphere India, is a National coalition of humanitarian agencies in India. The members include Government of India, International and National non-government agencies, Ngo networks and UN agencies working in India. Further information is available from http://www.sphereindia.org.in/sphere_india.html

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of a disaster on a community, to prioritise the most urgent needs and methods of timely and effective delivery. The methodology emphasizes the importance of government consultations, of collecting qualitative and quantitative information, and prioritises focus group discussions rather than individual household interviews. Despite this, feedback on the tools suggests that they place greatest emphasis on quantitative data with too much focus on numbers rather than on people and humanitarian needs.33 A 6-page set of assessment guidelines outlines set of multi-sector questions and provides guidance on how to present responses and recommended information sources. There is currently no data entry platform designed for these tools and these are designed on an ad hoc basis for each assessment. The tools were reviewed and refined in 2008 and are available on the DER website. Unicef Multi-Sector Indicator Block Mapping (MSiB) in Haiti Developed by Unicef to meet the needs for a quick assessment of living conditions in the spontaneous settlements which were created after the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the MSiB is a qualitative assessment system to help guide an integrated response to needs. Each ‘block’ represents a set of qualitative indicators for each of 6 sectors which Unicef has a specialism in and a traffic-light status system indicates a judgment of living conditions. The method acts as a hotpot finder and supports both operational and strategic planning. Of note is that the methodology is entirely qualitative, using the knowledge of local enumerators as experts at judging the living conditions. The approach is systematic and includes calibration methods to provide a comparable data set. The methodology was designed and trialled in Haiti. While it was applied to a pre-existing emergency situation, its qualitative nature, its basis in local knowledge mean that it has potential application in emergencies in internal displacement or refugee situations. 3.3 Inter-Agency Methodologies ECB – JNA The ECB JNA tool in Indonesia focuses on the first phase after an emergency and allows the community of NGOs along with UN and government actors to work together to gather data quickly and effectively. Appropriate tools and formats have been developed in order to have a common, or at least a coherent way of collecting, presenting and using data. The JNA tool consists of a single data assessment form (the tool) and operational guidelines that cover how the organizations will work together, how to enter data, and how to compile the related reports. This data is then incorporated into a database which includes a web-based platform so the resulting compilation of relevant data can be quickly and efficiently shared in a user-friendly way amongst relevant actors. The tool, operational guidelines, database, and training make up the JNA system. The ECB JNA approach acknowledges and seeks to adhere to the principle that initial assessment and response activities are always conducted by local actors and aims to reinforce these capacities by developing simple systems suited to the local context that collect and share essential data and support coordinated approaches led by the government or the United Nations.34 Experience from the JNA in Indonesia has been documented in a number of research papers which are now contributing to the development of the methodology in 2 further ECB pilot countries, Bolivia and Bangladesh. Emergency Market Mapping Analysis (EMMA)
33

Emergency Capacity Building Project & Assessment Capacities Project (2011) DRAFT Scoping Study on Coordinated Approaches to Needs Assessment in Bangladesh, March 2011 34 Hardjoko M, Hockaday D & Hana Haller Crowe (20xx) The Emergency Capacity Building Project and the development of a Joint Needs Assessment tool: The Indonesia experience, the Emergency Capacity Building Project

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EMMA is a rapid market analysis designed to be used in the short-term aftermath of a sudden-onset crisis. Its rationale is that a better understanding of the most critical markets in an emergency situation enables decision makers (donors, NGOs, government, other humanitarian actors) to consider a broader range of responses. It is not intended to replace emergency needs assessments, more thorough household economic analyses such as the Household Economy Analysis (HEA), or full market assessments, but rather adds to the body of knowledge in the post-crisis period by providing timely information about the structure and functioning of key markets in the short term so that immediate programming can be based on market knowledge. The EMMA has been remarkably successful in galvanising the support of a broad range of NGOs and UN agencies around a common theme relatively soon after a disaster and has produced considerable shared knowledge on how markets have been affected by crisis. HEA and the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) HEA is an assessment method and is an analytical framework designed to predict livelihood outcomes (food and non-food shortages) using a combination of baseline livelihoods information and information about current or predicted hazards (such as drought, market failure, conflict, etc.) HEA provides decision makers with an evidence-based analysis of how many people are affected and where, why there is a problem, how long the effects will last, and what kinds of response would be most appropriate. The IPC is a classification scheme rather than a method of assessment and does not generate estimates of beneficiary numbers or amounts of assistance. Instead it organizes information on livelihood outcomes, health, and other humanitarian indicators into a classification system and presents the results according to a colour-coded system on a map. There are obvious links between ‘outcome’ as measured by HEA and phase. HEA takes into account the many and varied economic operations of individual households, generating information on important key reference outcomes included in the IPC (e.g. food access, coping strategies, dietary diversity, destitution/displacement, etc.). HEA can complement the IPC by (i) estimating numbers of people in need, types of assistance required, amounts of assistance required and the timeframe for delivering the assistance, and; (ii) predicting future phases.35 The Multi-Cluster Rapid Initial Assessment Born out of the IASC Real Time Evaluation (RTE) of the response to the 2007 Pakistan floods, the McRAM was developed in 2008 for use in a range of potential emergency situations. Benefitting from broad participation across the humanitarian sector (including from UN agencies, NGOs and the International Committee of the Red Cross), it was designed as a standardised data collection and reporting tool to address the problems of multiple assessments. Using innovative mobile technology the use of personal data assistants (PDAs) for data collection in the field allows for immediate data transfer to a central processing hub. Questionnaires have been developed by the clusters and revised following each assessment based on lessons learned and the McRAM has set the target of making available preliminary assessment reports within 24-48-hours. The McRAM was activated 4-times in 3 different Provinces in 2008 alone and uptake has been widespread and has included the Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF). It was most recently used across 4 flood affected Provinces between 24-29 August (one-month after the floods) in 2010. The aim of the assessment was to reach a purposive sample of the most affected districts and communities and produce a detailed summary of findings in line with the information needs defined by the clusters in Pakistan under the auspices of the Inter-cluster Assessment Working Group with a view to incorporating the results into the revision of the Pakistan Initial Floods Emergency Response Plan (PIFERP).
35

The Food Economy Group (2007), Household Economy Analysis and the Integrated Phase Classification, January 2007

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Multi-Cluster Initial/Rapid Assessment (MIRA) The Multi-cluster Initial Rapid Assessment36 was originally developed by the IASC in 2006. Developed as an action-oriented tool for joint rapid assessment, the MIRA was the outcome of a consultative process which included IASC agencies and government personnel. It is used in the initial phases after a disaster and provides basic information for decisions to be made on initial life-saving and lifesustaining responses across all critical sectors. The tool can provide the basis for expanded multicluster assessments in subsequent phases providing a comparable data set for analysis. In 2010 the MIRA was adopted as part of a package of tools and guidance being developed by the NATF. It now consists of a methodology for defining the Preliminary Scenario Definition, and for organizing a multi-cluster rapid assessment in the first 72-hours after a disaster. The MIRA also includes a technological platform which comprises a web-based application being developed by Voozanoo. One of the uses of this is to host the Humanitarian Dashboard (see below) that can be used to quickly build a multi-sectoral questionnaire, to serve as a repository for data collected through it, and to populate the indicators as defined in the NATF ‘Operational Guidance’ document.37 The Humanitarian Dashboard The goal of the humanitarian dashboard is to support evidence-based humanitarian decision making for more needs-based, effective, and timely action. The dashboard is supported by narrative text on the overall situation as well as sector specific details and references. From a needs assessment perspective the added value of the dashboard is that it (i) consolidates core and common information for humanitarian decision-makers in a structured, real time and easily accessible format, (ii) it provides a common platform for organising data and identifying trends in the needs landscape, and (iii) it allows agencies to better understand what is happening in other sectors through an interoperable format for presenting needs and coverage which potentially serves as a framework for cluster leads to consolidate needs assessment information within their clusters. While it offers the potential to present the results of CNA, in the absence of consensus on a single tool for needs assessment, it can add value through the presentation of findings from a series of uncoordinated assessments together on a single platform. It also provides a platform for the compilation and presentation of secondary data such as that collected by the ACAPS Secondary Data Review (SDR). ACAPS SDR A secondary data review is a means to obtain information during a needs assessment and plays an important role in complementing primary data and in providing a baseline. Furthermore, evidence suggests that time can be wasted in CNAs collecting data that already exists and can be collated as part of a SDR. If undertaken in a timely manner secondary data can provide an important source of information to support phase 1 and 2 emergency assessment activities. SDR can either be undertaken in the field or remotely and key to the success of the methodology is having sufficient resources to exploit a range of different sources of information which will include personal networks in addition to written and web-based material. While the success of SDR is dependent on the breadth of data collected, timeliness is key if the information is to be useful in the initial stages after a disaster.38

36 37

MIRA was known as IRA till 2008 at which time it was changed in line with IASC guidance. IASC (2011) Operational Guidance for Coordinated Assessments in Humanitarian Crises, February 01 2011. Available from http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/downloaddoc.aspx?docID=4927&type=pdf 38 A summary of the methodology can be found on the ACAPS website at; http://www.acaps.org/img/documents/secondary-data-review---summary-secondary-data-review--summary.pdf

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ACAPS have successfully used the methodology in recent crises, providing secondary data reviews for Pakistan (Aug 2010), Ivory Coast (Dec 2010), Libya (March 2011), South Sudan (June 2011), Yemen (June 2011). Posted on the ACAPS website and made available to field assessment teams, these provide a rich source of data and analysis.39 Methodology for Rapid Humanitarian Assessment (REDLAC) The Work Group for Risk, Emergencies and Disasters for the Latin America/Caribbean region’s Interagency Standing Committee (REDLAC)40 was formed with the aim of creating a platform for the exchange of information, reflection and actions that optimize preparedness and response actions for preventing and mitigating suffering of populations vulnerable to natural disasters in the region. The group focuses its interventions during the response and preparedness stages and coordinates tasks of prevention and mitigation with other actors. Coordination is the key to the strategy which has a distinct methodology and set of tools for rapid assessment. Together, these facilitate joint and integrated disaster response projects and provide a platform for interagency needs analysis. The methodology was based on an analysis of 12 agencies tools and in the final stages of design was tested through a simulation exercise. European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) Initial Needs Assessment Checklist (INAC) The INAC is a phase 1 multi-sector tool designed to contribute to the overall effort of immediate assessment and response to a humanitarian disaster. It has been designed as a common tool which can be used in a range of humanitarian contexts. As a phase 1 tool it is designed to provide only a basic indication of the crisis and the priority actions to be undertaken in the first days and weeks of the response. As soon as possible it should be supplemented by expanded rapid needs assessments to guide the design of emergency interventions. Cluster Assessment Methodologies Local Estimate of Needs for Shelter & Settlement Toolkit (LENSS): LENSS is a methodology developed and endorsed by the IASC Emergency Shelter Cluster with the objective of getting reliable assessments of housing and settlements needs after a crisis. The approach prioritises the participation of those affected by the disaster and emphasises the importance of a coordinated strategic approach to needs assessment. Health Resources Availability Mapping System (HeRAMS): Endorsed by the Global Health Cluster HeRAMS is the standard cluster tool for use throughout the different phases of an emergency response. Through the use of the tool the Global Health Cluster aims at promoting and supporting good practice in mapping health resources and services availability in emergencies so as to strengthen informed based decision making. Global Health Cluster Rapid Health Assessment Guidelines (RHA): Developed in 2007 the RHA is considered an integral part of the initial multi-cluster assessment in acute emergencies and was designed as a standardised cluster tool for multi-agency assessments. The document includes a team leader checklist, reporting format, field and health facility questionnaire and a secondary data template which can be contextualised to increase their relevance to different emergencies. Environmental Needs Assessment in Post-Disaster Situations: Jointly prepared in 2008 by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in partnership with the Cluster Working Group on Early
39 40

For more information on SDR, see http://www.acaps.org/en/pages/resources The group includes UN agencies (OCHA, UNDP, Unicef, UNFPA, WHO, UNHCR), INGOs (World Vision, Care, Oxfam, Plan, NNGOs and regional organisations (EIRD, CATHALAC) and the IFRC

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Recovery, the guide is intended as first step towards elaborating a systematic approach to addressing and assessing environmental impacts and concerns following natural disasters – especially those issues which might have a negative impact on the safety and welfare of people. The guide has been primarily designed to inform and influence the early recovery process. It is intended as a pilot tool and will be revised further as field tests are carried out. The Short Guide to Rapid Joint Education Needs Assessment Toolkit: This is part of a larger toolkit produced by the Global Education Cluster in 2010 called The Joint Education Needs Assessment Toolkit. The Short Guide is a stand-alone reference tool to help plan and conduct a rapid joint needs assessment as part of either a multi-cluster assessment or an education-specific needs assessment. The Short Guide consolidates and simplifies the critical information on needs assessments contained in the larger Toolkit.

4. Progress and Pitfalls in Coordinated Needs Assessment
While the evidence presented in section 3 suggests cause for optimism with a diversity of initiatives providing potential for change across the sector, it would be wrong to suggest that a tipping point has been reached and it is important to temper an analysis of new and emerging practice in recent years with feedback from agency practice. While it is impossible to achieve this with any degree of rigour, a review of recent IASC inter-agency evaluations41 provides snapshots of the performance of the sector in some of the larger and higher profile crises of the last 5-years (see annex 4 for a synthesis of evaluation comments on needs assessment). A Field-Perspective on CNA Practice Advocating for a step change in the way the world responds to humanitarian crises, the HRR42 which preceded the raft of humanitarian reforms which were rolled out from 2005 provides a benchmark with which to measure progress. The review made the important link between timely assessment information and rapid response but also highlighted the gap between policy on the one hand and agency practice on the other, concluding that there was ‘relatively little recognition of the need to share assessment information or engage in joint assessments.’ Successive IASC RTE evaluations add weight to the findings of the review. While each of these is light on detail and lighter still on analysis, they are uniformly negative about the ability of humanitarian agencies to coordinate effectively to assess needs. While a review of the evaluations suggests an increase in the prevalence of CNAs, particularly in the second phase after a disaster, it also suggests an associated increase in the total number of assessments undertaken, particularly in the case of more ‘accessible’ crises such as in Haiti, with the result that vital information about needs remains fractured. While the tools created to harvest and manipulate data from these disparate assessments have improved (such as the growth in the use of ‘survey of surveys’ and the continuing development of OCHA’s Humanitarian Dashboard), it is disappointing that feedback from the application of some of the CNA methodologies in practice is that they continue to have their flaws – either methodologically or in the speed with which they deliver results. From the evidence provided by successive IASC RTE reports there is little doubt that the statement in the 2010 ALNAP-authored State of the Humanitarian System isn’t far off the mark in concluding that ‘needs assessment remains
41

As part of the research IASC Inter-agency evaluations which were reviewed include; Darfur (2006) East Asia Tsunami (2006), Mozambique Cyclone/Floods (2007), Pakistan Cyclone/Floods (2007) Myanmar Cyclone Nargis (2008), Pakistan IDP crisis (2010), Philippines Typhoons (2010), Haiti Earthquake (2010), Pakistan Floods (2011) 42 Adinolfi C et al (2005) humanitarian Response Review, United Nations, New York & Geneva

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a key weakness in the system’.43 But as this research illustrates, these weaknesses are beginning to be addressed and this sections seeks to explore this by highlighting some of the important lessons that have been learnt and presenting a vision of CNA which is becoming ever closer to being realised. 4.1 Important Lessons for CNA Practice NGO Multi-tasking – prioritising coordination AND response One of the most significant challenges to achieving greater participation in CNA is the limited resources that NGOs have and their prioritisation of data collection for operational decision-making which often results in localised sectoral assessments rather than gathering data for strategic decision-making which requires a broader multi-sectoral approach. Assessments are all too often used as a vehicle to obtain funding and the level of detail required to prepare logical frameworks and to influence funding decisions is far greater than that required for strategic decision-making and because of the resource limitations that many NGOs have they are often in the position of having to make a choice between these two competing priorities which is highlighted in the joint ECB/ACAPS Bangladesh scoping study.
‘Some agencies expressed concern that assessment reports were based on donor funding interests rather than the actual needs and priorities of the affected populations. For example, if the perception was that donors were interested in funding shelter and food, then these would be the focus areas of the report. This concern was also mentioned by some donors who would like to see joint needs assessments that present a clear picture of the needs and priorities of the affected populations rather than funding proposals that have been “dressed 44 up” as post‐crisis needs assessments.’

Where NGOs have participated in CNAs they have often been disappointed by the limited utility of the data. It is important that all stakeholders are clear about the purpose of CNA – which is most often associated with the development of a flash appeal which is an essential part of the humanitarian financing architecture. Rapid multi-sector assessments such as these won’t, and indeed shouldn’t provide the level of information required to develop programmes. Moving from theory to practice – the importance of preparedness planning Successive reviews have documented the lack of capacity that agencies have to undertake needs assessment, the lack of familiarity with the tools being used and the lack of resources available for data consolidation and analysis. The first step in addressing the knowledge gap is in building a culture of CNA through clear communication and an approach that is inclusive builds on the Principles of Partnership. At a country level, responsibility for this rests with the members of the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) and where this doesn’t exist, with the relevant interagency forum. Ensuring the participation of both government and national NGOs in preparedness activities is essential to ensure engagement in CNA. Preparedness activities including assessment training and simulation exercises, capacity assessments and standby arrangements for logistics and financing are crucial for successful implementation of CNA. Participating in preparedness activities can also go some way to building trust between the diverse stakeholder groups within the humanitarian community which is also considered to be an important for successful operational coordination. In addition to technical capacity aspects of preparedness planning, pre-crisis information can also play an important role in informing
43

Harvey P et al (2010) The State of the Humanitarian System: Assessing Performance and Progress – A Pilot Study, Active Learning network for Accountability & Performance in Humanitarian Action, London, pp.29 44 Emergency Capacity Building Project & Assessment Capacities Project (2011) DRAFT Scoping Study on Coordinated Approaches to Needs Assessment in Bangladesh, March 2011

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assessments as part of a secondary data review, a view endorsed by a recent HPN paper which reports that ‘information on conditions prior to the emergency is often available but seldom sought or integrated into analysis.’45 This is best collected as part of disaster preparedness outside of an emergency response. In the Pakistan Floods, ‘the use of baseline information was considered an essential planning tool.’46 Reaching agreement on the process – the need to build consensus between diverse stakeholder groups concerning the process of the joint needs assessment The ECB learning review from the Mentawi and Merapi disasters47 documents the frustration felt as a result of the use of competing assessment methodologies which it considered inefficient. CNA can ultimately only fulfil its potential if there is consensus on the adoption of a single framework for assessment and getting ownership and participation in this represents the key challenge particularly when so many competing assessment tools and methodologies exist. Success in this will require more than trust as agencies will need to cede well-established ways of working if CNA ambitions are to be realised. This will require strong leadership at an agency level and talented coordination at a cluster and inter-cluster level. The support of the IASC in developing Common Operational Datasets (COD) in disaster preparedness and response48 and mandating international agencies as guardians for these is an important step towards harmonisation but agreement on a common assessment methodology has so far been elusive. In this process the participation of the relevant parts of government is absolutely essential. The evidence suggests that the countries where CNA is most regularly adopted and where it provides the most timely information are those where the government participates in the process.
Box 2: The potential for the ECB to ‘join up’ assessment practice in Bangladesh
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The assessment building blocks that already exist in Bangladesh and the willingness among stakeholders (including ECB consortium partners and others) for a more “joined‐up” approach to emergency needs assessment provides an opportunity to take advantage of recent needs assessment thinking and developments including the ECB consortium JNA work in Indonesia, the ACAPS project, the IASC Needs Assessment Task Force. The assessment process initiated under the DER group has the potential to be revived and built on in a way that acknowledges both the strengths and weaknesses of emergency assessment experiences in Bangladesh while incorporating the evolution of global knowledge and lessons learned on JNA.

Balancing the timeliness of the assessment with the needs for good information – towards an approach that is both agile and ‘good enough’ Reaching agreement on a common format for a CNA has been a vexed issue and the failure to achieve success in this is well-documented in the 2011 Humanitarian Practice Network report on Common Needs Assessment which concludes that ‘to date, every major CNA effort has been weakened by trying to be too many things to too many people’50. In the survey which accompanied this research timeliness was considered the most important aspect of a phase 1 survey yet it was
45

Garfield et al (2011) Common Needs Assessments and Humanitarian Action, Humanitarian Policy Group, Network Paper, No. 69, January 2011 (Revised April 2011), Overseas Development Institute, London, pp.6. 46 Taken from a transcript of an interview with an ACAPS roster member who participated in the Pakistan Floods McRAM. Available from http://www.acaps.org/en/news/pakistan-floods-interview 47 Emergency Capacity Building Project (2010) Joint Needs Assessment (JNA) Test Report: Mount Merapi Volcano Eruptions & Mentawi Island Tsunami 48 For a definition and discussion on CODs see www.reliefweb.int/node/388479. 49 Emergency Capacity Building Project & Assessment Capacities Project (2011) DRAFT Scoping Study on Coordinated Approaches to Needs Assessment in Bangladesh, March 2011 50 Garfield et al (2011) Common Needs Assessments and Humanitarian Action, Humanitarian Policy Group, Network Paper, No. 69, January 2011 (Revised April 2011), Overseas Development Institute, London, pp.5

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also considered to be one of the most difficult aspects of a CNA to successfully achieve.51 When asked to list the 3 most important steps that could be taken to improve CNA practice, the 2nd and 3rd most frequent responses related to improving the timeliness of the process and the standardisation of assessment tools. The key challenge is to reach consensus on a discrete number of questions to provide the basic information required about the extent of the disaster and priority needs of those affected by it. The adoption of a lowest common denominator approach has seen lengthy questionnaires which are too complex for field teams to accurately complete and which generate too much data meaning that analysis and results are not timely ,an issue raised in the ECB’s joint evaluation of the use of the JNA in Indonesia52;
‘The JNA process enabled data to be collected across a wider geographic area and for data on various sectors to be obtained in a short period of time. It started discussions on geographic targeting and there was less geographic overlap during the data collection process. However, the JNA tool was “not efficient” providing too much information for rapid assessment purposes and too little for in-depth assessment purposes.’

Furthermore experience has shown that when questionnaires are considered too lengthy, agencies tend to either modify the form to better suit their own needs, or skip parts which they consider to be less relevant which compromises the results53.While the McRAM is broadly considered to be a successful CNA, it delivered results in phase 3, over 3-weeks after the initial flash floods. While yet to be defined, a ‘good enough’ approach to data analysis and reporting might see initial ‘interim’ assessment findings released before the consolidation of a final report or may see assessment data released as part of a rolling exercise as it becomes available. This would allow timely follow-up and would speak to some of the concerns that agencies have about the tardiness of recent processes. The use of technology to analyse and present findings Methods to collate, analyse and present assessment findings have advanced significantly in recent years, with the use of mobile technology to register responses which can be uploaded onto online databases for analysis. While this has the potential to significantly speed up data collection it is not a panacea. Experience has shown that the technology can be cumbersome when applied in practice and analysis has been disappointing when the development of the database and analysis tools have been performed without a good understanding of how the information will be used in practice. In some parts of the world lack of internet connectivity may make it impossible to use such systems even when they have an offline capability. The most important lesson is that technology needs to support the needs of the assessment rather than vice versa. Trialling of new methods of data capture or processing should happen pre-disaster. Agencies adopting new technologies to support CNA should be conscious of the potential limitations (for data analysis for example) as well as their ability to enhance assessment. That said, experience from the McRAM provides reason for cautious optimism, but it’s important to heed the warning, ‘if used appropriately, digital data collection has

51

69% of survey participants ranked timeliness as the most important aspect of an evaluation from 5 choices with 37% considering it moderately or very difficult to deliver a timely assessment. See Annex 5 for the survey results 52 Wilson P (2010) Report of the Joint Evaluation of the Indonesian ECB Consortium’s response to the West Java and West Sumatra Earthquake, April 2010. Available from http://www.alnap.org/pool/files/ecb-jointevaluation-indonesia-earthquakes-response-april2010-findings.pdf 53 See http://www.ecbproject.org/pool/ecb-joint-needs-assessment-west-sumatra-case-study-finaldraftmay28-2010.pdf.

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the potential to vastly improve the accuracy and timeliness of the assessment results: but if used carelessly the advantages are quickly lost.’54 Using the assessment findings to guide timely decision-making for clusters/operational agencies There is a danger that implementation delays mean that tools and methodologies designed for phase 1 assessments are utilised only in phase 2 and that time lags in analysing data may mean that findings are only released in phase 3. The release of assessment findings designed to provide a multisectoral overview at a time when agencies require detailed sectoral analysis is both inefficient and potentially damaging to the response. This also presents the risk that agencies which join CNAs in good faith may choose to invest their limited resources to support their own assessments in the future. The findings of the IASC RTE of the Pakistan floods response tend to bear this out, stating that one of the reasons given for single agency needs assessment was that ‘that joint assessments took too long to be carried out; once the results from assessments were ready, the situation on the ground had already changed.’55 Providing the right kind of data at the right time is essential for fostering agency commitment to CNA and there is still important progress to make in this respect. This is borne out by the online survey, participants of which considered the timely analysis of data and dissemination of findings to be the second most important aspect on a phase 1 CNA (after timely commencement of the assessment), yet this was also considered to the most difficult aspect of a CNA to achieve.56 The importance of acknowledging that there will always be contexts when agencies will choose to NOT participate in CNA Interviews with NGOs in particular have highlighted a level of scepticism about the appropriateness of CNA under certain circumstances, particularly where there is a perception that participation may compromise humanitarian principles. Situations where the government is party to conflict or where there is an integrated UN Mission were raised as particularly problematic and in these situations broad participation in CNA will remain unlikely irrespective of the tools used or timeliness of the exercise. There are also a number of other countries where perceptions of the UN’s close proximity to government led to concern that participation may compromise their independence. CNA needs to be sensitive to these important issues of principle and should try to adapt to them; an approach that acknowledges the complexities of working jointly may favour a harmonised assessment tool, the results of which can be consolidated. 4.2 The ‘Methodology Gap’ and a Cycle of Good Practice While important progress has been made in strengthening the methodology for CNA and in broadening participation, the objectives of needs assessment are still not being adequately served by current practice. The ambitions of humanitarian reform, to provide predictable assistance based on comprehensive needs-based relief are not best served by the current model of needs assessments. Experience from the use of the JNA, McRAM and RINAH provide compelling evidence of the tardiness with which current CNA practice delivers results. While this can be short-circuited by providing ‘interim’ analysis, what is required is a framework which can galvanise the support of the humanitarian community in the earliest phases after a disaster has struck and which can provide results across multiple sectors in a timeframe that will support operational decision-making. This research has shown that despite this ‘methodology gap’, innovation within the sector and a growing consensus about the importance of CNA means that the many of the elements of a good practice cycle to address this gap have either been developed or are in development (see box 4).
54

Taken from a transcript of an interview with an ACAPS roster member who participated in the Pakistan Floods McRAM. Available from http://www.acaps.org/en/news/pakistan-floods-interview 55 Polastro R et al (2011) Inter-Agency Real Time Evaluation of the Humanitarian Response to Pakistan’s 2010 Flood Crisis, March 2011, Dara, pp.30 56 45% of participants ranked the timely analysis and dissemination of data as the first or second most important aspect of a CNA while 67% considered this either difficult or very difficult to achieve

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Box 3: The CNA ‘Methodology Gap’

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Recent CNA practice has seen assessments launched in the first weeks (phase 2) after a disaster but results haven’t been released until phase 3 or phase 4 by which time the situation has often changed or humanitarian agencies have conducted their own assessments and initiated programmes. This ‘methodology gap’ speaks to a mismatch between the complexity of the approach adopted for CNA and the context. In the first days after a disaster when the situation is most dynamic, a simple approach is essential if analysis and results are to be timely and able to inform planning. As the situation stabilises more complex tools can be used. In situations of conflict or multi-hazard disasters where the context is fluid, it will be necessary to regularly assess the approach to ensure it is appropriate to the context.

5. The Future of Needs Assessment? Collaborative, Coordinated and Capable With the growth of interest in the purpose and process of needs assessment since humanitarian reform established challenging targets for the delivery of life-saving assistance, there has been an increase in knowledge and capacity in the discipline. The establishment of the NATF and ACAPS and the considerable practical progress made by agencies and the ECB in particular has seen a growing convergence of thinking on key components for effective assessment. The theoretical argument for CNA has long been won and tools are slowly being developed to facilitate practice. The development and use of the JNA methodology is a valuable contribution to this and that it has the support of a coalition of 6 of the world’s largest NGOs is important in terms of providing critical mass of field experience. Given its profile and given the partnerships that the ECB has entered into with ACAPS, the ECB has significant potential to spear-head change across the sector. But the ECB needs to ensure that it makes use of the growth in knowledge. The experience of JNA in Indonesia has been an important learning opportunity and that the experience has been welldocumented has made an important contribution to the sector. The extension of its interest in CNA to Bangladesh and Bolivia provides an important opportunity to add momentum to an important change process in the way the humanitarian community undertakes assesses humanitarian need. However, the findings of this research also suggest that if the ECB is to play a full part in this change process it needs to continue spearheading innovation. While the theory of CNA has made considerable progress, the research has shown that practice still lags behind. It is now important that agencies and initiatives work together to build a strong coalition which can collectively prompt a tipping point. To achieve this, the research suggests a set of actions for the humanitarian community, implicit in which are actions for the ECB to take.

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The diagram has been developed from an ACAPS slideshow on CNA

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5.1 Recommendations

CNA practice needs to coalesce around a single approach that is contextually relevant and that is communicated across a multi-stakeholder platform.
Global Level  A significant knowledge gap exists across the humanitarian community which does little to promote participation in CNA. A communications strategy and materials should be developed by OCHA in 58 partnership with ACAPS for IASC agencies to promote CNA at regional and country level.  The partnership between ACAPs, NATF, OCHA and the ECB has significant potential to change practice and it would make good sense to harmonise objectives around the promotion and dissemination of good practice in CNA. Country Level  As part of its responsibilities for ensuring that humanitarian action in-country is ‘coordinated…principled, 59 timely, effective and efficient’ , each HCT (or inter-agency forum) should include in its annual work plan the development of a strategy that seeks to establish a coalition of support for CNA. OCHA should play a crucial support role. This process should be led by the HC (or RC/HC) and coordinated with the Cluster leads where appropriate. ECB Member Agencies  The JNA makes a considerable contribution to CNA and has provided important lessons, but the tool itself and methodology that supports it would benefit from further development. The ECB should commission a technical evaluation of the JNA methodology with a view to understanding its strengths and weaknesses.  The need for contextualisation of the tool has been raised in both the Bolivia and Bangladesh pilot studies, and both country teams are seeking to build broad consensus across the humanitarian community around a single tool. The Indonesia team should prioritise discussions about the adoption of a single tool for all NGO, UN and government stakeholders.  The ECB should have a strategy to promote the use of CNA beyond its 5 pilot countries in order to foster far greater engagement within the NGO (both international and national) sector.

CNA will add most value where there is strong partnership across all humanitarian stakeholders which include the host government and national NGOs.
Global level  The development of the MIRA approach should acknowledge the diversity of humanitarian contexts and the needs for assessment tools to be adapted to the context in which they are being used. A harmonised approach that uses a modular tool to collect both strategic and operational data will likely elicit the greatest participation from humanitarian stakeholders. ECB Member Agencies  In developing the JNA pilot in Bangladesh and Bolivia, the ECB have taken the important step of exploring strategies of how to promote government participation. With the recruitment of a project manager in Indonesia, it will be important for the ECB agencies to develop a strategy to enhance the participation of The National Board for Disaster Management (BNPB).

Successful CNA will ultimately require strong leadership both at country and HQ level
Global Level
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This recommendation is encompassed in the DRAFT 2011 NATF work plan which is available at http://www.humanitarianinfo.org/iasc/pageloader.aspx?page=content-subsidi-common-default&sb=75 59 Guidance on the role of HCTs is available from http://www.who.int/hac/network/interagency/inter_agency_guidelines_country_teams.pdf

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While the NATF plays an important technical role, it is the IASC member agencies themselves (and the standing invitees particularly ICVA, Interaction, SCHR, IFRC and ICRC) who have the most significant part to play in changing practice at an agency level through committing to support pilot countries and emerging CNA practice as a means of promoting broader change across the sector. It will be important to use the IASC as a means to negotiate engagement in the promotion of the new approach.

Country Level  It is ultimately the HCs (or RC/HC) responsibility for ensuring the development of an approach to CNA that has broad participation throughout the humanitarian community and which benefits from the technical support of OCHA (and cluster leads where appropriate). ECB Member Agencies  The ECB has made an important contribution to CNA through the development of the JNA but outside of the pilot countries, ECB agencies still regularly choose to opt out of CNAs or have uncoordinated assessments as their default mode of responding to crises. Humanitarian leaders of ECB member agencies should use the learning from the JNA to promote CNA practice in new and emerging crises.

An important lesson which is yet to be learnt is that early phase CNAs should adopt a ‘good enough’ approach that allows for timely data collection, analysis and dissemination of results.
ECB Member Agencies  Given the ECBs experience in developing ‘the Good Enough Guide to Impact Measurement and 60 Accountability in Emergencies’ there is scope for a similar contribution to be made based on experience developing and trialling the JNA and building on the experience of the NATF and ACAPS.

5.2 Conclusion One of the recommendations of the 1990 evaluation of OLS referred to earlier in this report noted that ‘…in a situation like the Sudan, special circumstances need to be taken into account and collaboration rather than competition emphasized.’61 While this research has shown that coordination in assessment and humanitarian response has undoubtedly improved in the 21-years since this recommendation was made, establishing the breadth and depth of humanitarian need continues to be all too often gleaned from a series of uncoordinated and often unconnected assessments. In the years since the Humanitarian Response Review revealed important gaps in humanitarian architecture, significant efforts have been made to address them; some of these have developed organically and others have come about as part of a strategy to improve the effectiveness of the global humanitarian system. While these initially led to an eclectic range of approaches to coordinating needs assessments, the development of good practice and stronger coordination across the sector has led to a convergence of thinking (if not practice). The growth of collaboration in the sector means that the combined effort of ECB, NATF and ACAPS provides an influential platform to drive good practice in CNA. It is now time for the significant theory that exists to be applied in mainstream humanitarian response and as a consortia of the world’s largest NGO’s, the ECB is well-placed to spearhead

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Emergency Capacity Building Project (2007) The Good Enough Guide: Impact and Accountability in Emergencies, Oxfam, Oxford. Available from http://www.ecbproject.org/GoodEnoughGuide 61 Agnes Aboum T et al, T (1990) A Critical Review of Operation Lifeline Sudan: A Report to the Aid Agencies, Humanitarianism & War Project, Tufts University, pp17. Available from http://repository.forcedmigration.org/show_metadata.jsp?pid=fmo:2666

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change. Mandated to improve the speed, quality and effectiveness of the humanitarian community to save lives the ECB has an important opportunity to influence important change.

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