Coordinated Assessments in emergencies - What we know now: Key lessons from field experience - Technical Brief

Report
from Assessment Capacities Project
Published on 21 Nov 2012

Introduction

A coordinated assessment (CA) refers to a “time-bound, multi-sectoral, multi-stakeholder process of collecting, analysing and interpreting data to assess needs and inform decisions on humanitarian and early recovery responses”.

The IASC defines a coordinated assessment as one “...planned and carried out in partnership by humanitarian actors, in order to document the impact of a particular crisis and to identify the needs of affected populations. The results of the assessment are shared with the broader humanitarian community.” Coordinated assessments can be joint or harmonised.

Recent years have seen a growing emphasis on the importance of a coordinated approach to assessments in the early days and weeks following a disaster. It is now widely agreed that a multi-sector and multi-stakeholder assessment should be undertaken during the initial days and weeks of a major crisis to provide initial information on its humanitarian impact and to assist stakeholders in coming to a shared understanding of the key priorities for response. Achieving a high quality, timely assessment of humanitarian needs, however, remains a challenge for the humanitarian community.

One outcome of the interest in coordinated assessments has been the execution of large scale primary data collection exercises after natural disasters, as was the case in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and Pakistan after the 2010 floods. While these exercises yielded a wealth of information about the crises, they were costly in terms of logistics and human resources, were challenged in terms of timeliness, and ultimately collected a lot of information that was not used for fund raising or response planning.

This document uses lessons learned from recent coordinated assessments to distil key points, advice, and pitfalls in carrying out a Coordinated Assessment during the first weeks of a disaster. It provides a general introduction to what has been learned about coordinated assessments in terms of what works and what does not. As such, it is aimed towards humanitarian personnel responding to or preparing for emergencies both at field and headquarters level.

The acronym “CA” in this document is used to describe Coordinated Assessments undertaken in the initial days and weeks of a disaster.