In case of a humanitarian crisis, primary responsibility of search and rescue and providing assistance to the affected population lies with the Government. However, in situations where magnitude of the disaster is beyond its capacity to respond alone, Governments request the humanitarian community to complement response through joint effort and resources.

Often, needs assessment is also a collaborative effort of the two, and is necessary to analyze the impact of a crisis, and planning appropriate response to meet basic-life saving and livelihoods needs of affected populations.


Vanderbilt University


Assessing the impact of a humanitarian crisis on households requires information on; losses, coping strategies, income status, and immediate live saving and livelihood needs. Ideally, information that includes sex and age-related data on who has lost what etc. to meet individual needs. Similarly, information on damages to critical household and community   infrastructure (such as farm land, irrigation systems, village to market roads etc.) pave the way for planning rehabilitation and rebuilding activities. Household and community assessment should be based on discussions with the local communities, and specifically men, women, elderly, and youth groups to consider their specific needs.


Deciding the type of humanitarian intervention (in kind/commodities or cash/vouchers) requires an in-depth assessment to know if markets are functional, key basic items are available on reasonable prices, and assessing the pipeline of resupply as food and other basic items may be in the market but it might not be possible to replenish supply. It is also useful to consider who from the household goes to the market, who usually buys goods (men, women) and if some people are house-bound, what arrangements can be made to ensure that they have someone who will assist them in having access to the markets and goods. Assessing these basic market dynamics play a key role in ensuring humanitarian organisations have done their homework and will design their response in accordance with the realities and needs on ground.


Risk assessment is a method of identifying potential threats that may hamper a project. Threats may be internal (within the organization) or external (security, corruption, harsh weather etc.). By understanding the local context and possible risk factors, threats can be minimized or avoid by taking contingency measures.

Assessments help aid workers understand the needs of the population, availability of resources, and dynamics of the market and local environment before relief work can take place. Conducting accurate, effective and timely needs assessments pave the way for a well-organized intervention to help communities with their immediate needs and their recovery process.


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