McRAM Pakistan A Lesson in Assessment Preparedness
The Multi-cluster Rapid Assessment Mechanism (McRAM) project commenced in Pakistan in March 2008 with the aim of designing a post-emergency assessment that: Assessment Preparedness • was collaborative (i.e. a multi-cluster assessment) • utilized Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) technology
McRAM Project Objective: …..to have a well designed, multi-cluster assessment mechanism in place and a system prepared to implement this mechanism at very short notice in order to improve the quality and timeliness of joint assessments.
McRAM Preparedness Within Contingency Planning PREPAREDNESS RESPONSE Contingency Planning Rapid Onset Emergency Pre-crisis Vulnerability Impact ………..…Recovery Vulnerability Baseline Early Warning Scenario Mapping Phase 1 Information gathering Phase 3 Sector Assessments Phase 2 Multi-cluster Assessment Phase 4 Multi-cluster Assessment Assess Response Preparedness Arrangements for Multi-Cluster Assessments NB, phase 4 multi-cluster assessments could be deployed to assess the effectiveness of humanitarian response.
Key Features of the McRAM • Preparedness • Community needs assessment • Joint Ownership and Commitment • Collaboration • Technology • Out-sourcing of data collection
Challenges in McRAM Preparedness • Galvanizing commitment • Establishing coordination and management structures • Identifying roles and responsibilities for carrying out an emergency assessment • Defining key initial information needs • Ensuring gender was mainstreamed • A multi-cluster assessment is complex • All emergencies are not the same • Funding preparedness and actual assessments.
1. Galvanizing commitment • For the agencies and organizations involved: a common needs assessment should represent more efficient deployment of resources • For the population affected: a common needs assessment to get the information required by multiple clusters reduces assessment fatigue. • Without genuine commitment to a joint assessment, agencies will continue with their own agency or sector specific assessments
Key features in Pakistan that contributed to galvanising joint commitment to the McRAM: • The Government of Pakistan accepted the need for a community based needs assessment. • The Pakistan Humanitarian Forum (PHF) committed that they would ask members to hold off on initial assessments and use McRAM data. • A functioning cluster system already existed in Pakistan. • The Pakistan HCT was already engaged in inter-agency contingency planning.
2. Identifying coordination and management structures • Formation of a McRAM Steering Committee consisting of the cluster coordinators, the PHF representative, the ICRC, the IFRC, and the NDMA, chaired by OCHA. • During ongoing contingency planning, this groups became the IASC Operations Group.
3. Identifying roles and responsibilities for carrying out an emergency assessment • A core McRAM team comprising of a Project Coordinator, programmers and a Social Scientist. • In Pakistan linguistic and cultural differences, difficult terrain and vast distances make information gathering difficult with implications for timeliness, logistics and cost. • The solution to this in the Pakistan context was to have stand-by arrangements with local partners.
4. Identifying key initial information needs • A country sector specialist may not necessarily be able to design a good set of questions! • Improved access to global guidance such as IASC tools would be an advantage for this part of the process, but these need to be embedded in country level ownership.
5. Ensuring gender was mainstreamed • Gender poses particular challenges in the Pakistan context. • Ensuring female field researchers was a challenge in Pakistan but, through good local partners, not impossible. • A separate report on Mainstreaming Gender in the McRAM was compiled.
6. A multi-cluster assessment is complex • Having field teams pre-trained as part of assessment preparedness. • Dedicate sufficient time to this. • Ensure cluster input.
7. All emergencies are not the same • Be ready with a set of different options; e.g. Household, community, camp management, health facility.
8. Ensuring information is timely • Use available technology • Prioritise information management from the outset in the assessment design.
9. Funding • Preparedness requires commitment and resources. • The level of commitment and resources in preparedness impacts the quality, timeliness and usefulness of an actual assessment.
Involvement in McRAM Preparedness Responsibility Over-arching support Ensure Gov’t support RC/HC Humanitarian Country Team Funding?? UNICEF Oversight Direction for Assessment Ensure Cluster Involvement Approve design and SOPs IASC Operations Group Management + Execution Liaison with clusters & partners Finalization of questionnaires Document SOPs for Assessment Training of Survey Teams Programming of questions / database / reporting formats • Assessment Team • Coordinator • Technical / MIS / GIS Execution Support Deploy teams & logistics Partner Organization
Revisiting McRAM Preparedness... • A “neutral home” for the McRAM • After 2 years, what was left: • Ownership • Tool • Consensus on the concept • Some data expertise • Equipment • “Assessment Maintenance”