Indonesia + 1 more

The role of needs assessment in the tsunami response (July 2006)

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
Originally published


By Dr Claude de Ville de Goyet & Lezlie C Morinière, International Centre for Migration and Health (ICMH)

Executive summary

The tsunami struck the Indian Ocean region on 26 December 2004. In the 14 affected countries, over 225,000 people died or are still missing. Overall, an estimated two million people have been directly or indirectly affected, and 1.7 million of these were internally displaced.

This evaluation is one of five thematic evaluations undertaken by the Tsunami Evaluation Coalition (TEC) on the international humanitarian response to the tsunami. The other four in the series cover: coordination; the impact of the response on local and national capacities; linkages between relief, rehabilitation and development; and the funding response to the tsunami. This report evaluates the adequacy, appropriateness and effectiveness of the assessment of need in the first three months after the tsunami.

It focuses on the impact of assessment on the response of international agencies and institutional donors and, ultimately, on the affected populations.

Over 300 officials or actors from over 50 agencies were interviewed for this study in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand and seven donor countries. National consultants and research associates assisted in the review of approximately 200 reports prepared in the first months after the tsunami. Nonstructured interviews with 135 affected individuals were also conducted during the field visits.
There are several distinct types of needs assessment that are not easily compared:

• assessments of short-term, fastchanging and most immediate humanitarian needs, such as health, food and shelter, in contrast with assessments of damage and loss (economic valuation of recovery needs)

• cross-sectoral assessments versus more specialised thematic or sectoral surveys

• formal, structured and often scientific assessments as compared to descriptive compilations fuelling situation analysis

• assessments available or intended for general, common use as opposed to those left unshared and kept for internal agency planning.

The main body of this report reviews assessments intended to influence the decision making of the international community at large. Most findings focus particularly on UN or interagency reports, as needs assessment from the Red Cross movement were not formally available to the evaluators. Selected sectoral or thematic assessments – on health, water and sanitation, food and nutrition, livelihood recovery (in particular fishing) and shelter – are reviewed in greater depth in the annexes to this report.