10. Conducting the assessment

The assessment team should get a briefing on the CO’s capacity, including information on the programmatic focus of the CO (for example, Strategic Plan summary) and a summary of the EPP. This will help the team to understand the capacity of the CO and make realistic recommendations including the partnership with other actors.


At a minimum, the assessment team should gather and analyse basic information outlined below. See also  section 10.6  for more information on assessment checklists.

General humanitarian situation

  • Location and conditions of disaster area
  • Affected population-size, demographics, location (disaggregated by gender and age)
  • Impact of disaster-physical, social, economic, political, security, environmental
  • Capacities and vulnerabilities of disaster-affected population
  • Priority needs of women, men, boys and girls-food, water and sanitation, shelter, health
  • Contextual information-gender roles and relations, cultural issues, conflict and power dynamics, violence, discrimination and protection issues, civil-military relations

Response to date

  • Organisation and response of disaster-affected community, with perspectives from both women and men
  • Response of responsible authorities
  • Local NGOs
  • International NGOs
  • UN agencies
  • Donors
  • Other actors-for example, military

Operating conditions

  • Security analysis
  • Availability of (or damage to) logistics infrastructure-ports, roads, airports, warehousing
  • Market conditions and availability of relief items locally
  • Availability of support infrastructure-office, accommodation, telecommunications infrastructure, transportation
  • Relevant government regulations and requirements for operations
  • Cost estimates for budget development
  • Availability of skilled personnel

Disaster-affected men and women should be actively involved in every part of the response, including the assessment phase.

Before assessment

  • Determine and clearly state the objectives of the assessment.
  • If you can, inform the local community and local authorities well before the assessment takes place.
  • Include both women and men in the project team.
  • Make a list of vulnerable groups to be identified during the assessment.
  • Check what other NGOs have done in that community and get a copy of their reports.

During assessment

  • Introduce team members and their roles.
  • Explain the time frame for assessment.
  • Invite representatives of local people to participate.
  • Create space for individuals or groups to speak openly.
  • Hold separate discussions and interviews with different groups-for example, local officials, community groups, men, women and local staff.
  • Ask these groups for their opinions on needs and priorities.
  • Inform them about any decisions taken.

Note: If it is not possible to consult all groups within the community at one time, state clearly which groups have been omitted on this occasion and return to meet them as soon as possible. Write up your findings and describe your methodology and its limitations. Use the analysis for future decision-making.

Make use of as many available information sources as possible. By seeking information from many different sources, the assessment team can cross-reference different responses to determine the best single estimate or conclusion and avoid bias. This is called ‘triangulation’ of data.

Key sources of information include:

  • disaster-affected communities
  • Leaders, vulnerable groups, women, health workers, school teachers, institutions, community based organisations, youth, etc.
  • local government representatives and offices
  • local and international NGOs and coordinating bodies
  • UN agencies
  • Humanitarian Information Centres
  • donor agencies
  • local and international news media
  • suppliers and commercial organisations

Select the most appropriate data collection methods to gather the required information. It is advisable to use a wide range of data collection methods, and for the team to be well prepared and skilled in the use of the chosen methods.

The assessment will yield clearer results if the methodology is well planned beforehand. Key informant interviews and directed observations are methods used regularly, although are often poorly planned. Predetermine who to interview, what questions to ask (test the questions before, if possible) and how to ask them, and decide what needs to be observed, what things you will be looking for, and how to record that data. In addition to key informant interviews and direct observation, there are many other methodologies that can provide important information, as outlined in section 10.5.1.

10.5.1 Methods for information gathering

Methods for information gathering

Available data collection methods Tools and ‘how to’ guides
Key informant


Annex 4.6 IFRC 2005. Guidelines for emergency assessment, Chapter 7

Annex 4.5 The good enough guide, Tool 5

Focus groups Annex 4.6 IFRC 2005. Guidelines for emergency assessment, Chapter 7

Annex 4.5The good enough guide, Tool 6

Direct observation Annex 4.5 The good enough guide, Tool 9
Surveys Annex 4.5 The good enough guide, Tool 7
Participatory rural appraisal methods-for example, mapping, seasonal calendars, timelines and proportional piling. Annex 4.7 ALNAP Participation Handbook

Satellite imagery, phone / internet interviews, fly-over (with plane, helicopter or drone) and email exchanges are also useful data collection methods to consider.

Tools such as checklists and forms are useful guides for assessment teams.

Checklists help to provide a reminder of what information the assessment team should collect. Checklists can be general or sector-specific. The assessment team should choose checklists that are appropriate to the objectives of the assessment mission. The following are good checklists to use.

Assessment checklists for sectors and cross-cutting issues are also provided at Chapter 8 Sector guidelines, and Chapter 9 Cross-cutting issues.

Annex xx provides a list of tools used for various sectors and different emergency phases.

Please note that CARE WASH in emergencies unit has developed a WASH assessment tool (11-2013): http://water.care2share.wikispaces.net/Emergency+WASH+Training%2C+Tools+and+Resources

Interagency assessment forms are sometimes used in large emergencies. There is no standard global form, as formats are tailored to each specific emergency. They promote common methodologies and facilitate sharing of assessment data. It is always good practice to share assessment data and results with government and peer agencies. For samples see Annex 4.11 Sample interagency forms, and Annex 4.2ECB forms

10.6.1 Assessment format: UN clusters Interagency Rapid Assessment tool

UN clusters have developed an interagency rapid assessment tool (MIRA). This should be used by CARE.

See Annex 4.21 Interagency Rapid Assessment tool.