8.1 Organising an After Action Review

CARE’s policy requires COs to hold an AAR for each large-scale (Type 2 and 4) humanitarian crisis. Country Offices responding to smaller (Type 1) crisis are also encouraged to conduct a brief ‘lessons learned’ exercise following the response.

What is an After Action Review (AAR)?

An AAR is an internal performance review and lessons learned exercise that takes place within the first 3-4 months of a crisis response. It usually takes a workshop format and brings together key staff who have been involved in the response from the CO, CARE Lead and other parts of CARE.  It is independently facilitated (i.e. external to the response) and takes into account external and internal feedback collected before the workshop. An AAR draws both positive and negative lessons, and leads to recommendations to CARE management for improving humanitarian response policy and practice.

What is the purpose of an AAR?

The overall goal of the AAR is to contribute to CARE’s understanding of its crisis response performance and to help to promote learning and accountability throughout CARE International. More specifically, the AAR:

  • Provides a space for staff to capture key learning at a critical juncture of a humanitarian crisis response
  • Generates lessons learned that can be shared across CI
  • Makes recommendations to CARE management (CO, CI and CARE Members) for improving humanitarian response policy and practice


The following annexes can assist with organising an After Action Review:

Annex 9.10      Practical guidance for organising an AAR

Annex 9.10a      Terms of Reference for AAR facilitator

Annex 9.10b     Sample AAR agenda

Annex 9.10c      Sample AAR report