Inter-Agency Appeals and Needs Assessments

Summary of published report1

Children sleeping rough in Kitgum, Uganda

For over a decade, the Consolidated Inter- Agency Appeal Process (CAP) has provided the framework for joint programming, common prioritisation and joint resource mobilisation for humanitarian assistance. However, a number of serious concerns have been raised as to the ability of CAP to meet these objectives. For example, needs assessments are not carried out on a consistent basis, with the consequence that it is often difficult to compare appeals and to rationalise allocations between them. Various efforts have been deployed during the last few years to make the CAP more relevant and effective. For example, a review of CAP in September 2001 resulted in a 19-point Action Plan to improve the workings of the CAP. More recently, UNICEF and WHO commissioned a review, which intends to initiate and facilitate inter-agency dialogue on the consolidation of needs assessments for use in the CAP. The review commenced in May 2003 and some of the findings are summarised here.

Practically all CAP appeals were 'skimmed' through, in search of indications on how needs were measured and expressed and how they were linked to programmes. Six appeals were examined in depth (Angola, Burundi, Chechnya, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Somalia and Uganda). During this process, approximately 120 different assessment guidelines were collated into a database.

Children in Huichon County, Democratic People´s Republic of Korea

An extraordinary finding of the review was that in the 2003 CAP, no direct link could be found between the needs of the population and the programmes formulated to address them. Needs were not identified or described per se. They could be inferred from the operational objectives stated in the various sectors of the Common Humanitarian Action Plan (CHAP). However, these objectives are supposed to take into account factors other than needs, such as vulnerabilities/capacities of the affected population, the capacity of the implementing organisation and the prevailing political, social and economic situation of the country. Information about needs is therefore buried under layers of 'noise' coming from other sources of information. The report authors state that the lack of a systematic approach to needs assessments should not come as a surprise. The Technical Guidelines for the Consolidated Appeals do not provide advice on needs assessment, nor do they foresee a section in the CAP document dedicated to needs assessments.

The review provides recommendations on how the results of individual agency needs assessment could be consolidated and analysed by Country Teams as part of the formulation of the CHAPs, according to a framework and process which are consistent across all CAP countries. The report advocates for increased coordination and inter-agency cooperation in needs assessment but does not enter into the subject of individual assessment methodologies. Choice of method has to remain with individual agencies to be adapted to the information specific to the various sectors. Rather, it provides an assessment framework that will bring greater transparency to the entire process.

Furthermore, the report does not provide prescriptions for an automatic translation of assessment information into humanitarian needs. Country Teams may decide to use the concepts described in the review, and in particular in the proposed rights-based assessment framework, to judge the severity of a humanitarian crisis and to set priorities concerning programming.

For further information, contact GIGnos: Piero Calvi-Parisetti, email: calvip@gignos.ch, tel: +41(0)78-8490669

Based in Geneva, GIGnos is a private research institute working with Governments, international organisations and academia in the areas of disaster reduction, preparedness, response and rehabilitation. See online: http://www.gignos.ch/

Show footnotes

1GIGnos (2003). An assessment matrix for the CAP. A basis for improving inter-agency assessments. 29th Sep 2003

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Reference this page

Inter-Agency Appeals and Needs Assessments. Field Exchange 21, March 2004. p9. www.ennonline.net/fex/21/interagency