3.1 Stages in an emergency response

Assessment and design (for detailed assessment guidelines see Assessment)

  • A needs assessment is an information gathering exercise to determine the most urgent needs of an affected population as well as the resources required to meet those needs. Needs assessment usually starts with a rapid assessment, which is then followed by a more detailed assessment later on in the response.
  • The design stage is where the details of a project are worked out, based on the assessment results, including what to do, where to do it, and the resources and costs required to implement the project.

Implementation, monitoring and adaptation (see Monitoring and evaluation)

  • Emergency activities are implemented as soon as possible. Implementation of first response activities should take place at the same time as initial assessments.
  • Because the context changes relatively quickly, monitoring should be continuous and time should be allocated to regularly review results in real time. This allows activities to be adapted or modified to take account of the changing needs of the affected population and changes in the operational conditions (for example, political or security situation).

Evaluation and learning

  • An in-depth, systematic, objective review of actions is undertaken.
  • Results of evaluative activities feed into organisational learning, including the adaptation and modification of programmes, and design of new programmes. The results of an evaluation may also help to better inform exit or transition strategies.

Exit or transition

  • Transition is the stage when emergency programmes shift from short-term relief activities into longer-term rehabilitation and development programmes (or conversely, when programmes must transition from regular development mode into emergency mode).
  • Exit is when emergency resources are withdrawn, and emergency response operations close down or are handed over to local partners to continue.