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James Darcy ACAPs workshop on multi-sectoral assessment Revinge, Sweden May 2010. Needs assessment and decision-making. 3 functions of assessment. to inform organisational decisions about response, throughout the life of a programme

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James Darcy

ACAPs workshop on multi-sectoral assessment

Revinge, Sweden

May 2010

Needs assessment and decision-making

3 functions of assessment
3 functions of assessment

  • to inform organisational decisions about response, throughout the life of a programme

  • to influence others’ decisions (including donors and host governments)

  • to justify response decisions and appeals for funds (& provide baseline for impact assessment)

Context for this discussion
Context for this discussion

  • Perceived credibility gap

  • Donors’ own assessments (DART etc)

  • Push for more joined-up, better prioritised response (how exactly does JNA help with this?)

  • Political resistance in country

  • Fragmentation and discontinuity in diagnostic processes (assessment, monitoring, evaluation)

  • Misunderstanding (mis-portrayal?) of the role of aid

Issues arising with multi sector assessment
Issues arising with multi-sector assessment

Form should follow function. So... what is the purpose of multi-sector assessment? What is its utility? (Compare JNA, MSA, etc)

  • Issues arising:

    • Conceptual

    • Methodological

    • Process

    • Operational

Mapping the evolution of a crisis
Mapping the evolution of a crisis




‘Crisis’ threshold





Needs-based decision-making

‘Need’ is not a precisely definable or measurable quantity, and needs assessment is not an exact science: it involves estimation, interpretation and judgement, as well as measurement, observation and analysis.

Decision-making, similarly, involves judgement and the weighing of multiple factors. The question is what constitutes a sufficiently well-informed decision, and how to ensure that decisions are adequately informed by good needs analysis.

What types of decision at what level
What types of decision? At what level?

  • Strategic decisions about whether and how to respond – or to change a response – scale, role

  • Programmedesign decisions (sectoral approach etc)

  • Resource allocation decisions: What resources ($, people etc) to allocate and how to allocate them (cp macro and micro resource allocation)

  • Tactical/operational decisions

    Levels of decision:

    (i) Within organisations: HQ, regional, national, local

    (ii) System-wide or inter-organisational


UN agencies


Red Cross/ Crescent



National & local


+ agents

  • Non-state actors

  • Civil society: NGOs etc

  • - Other

International NGOs

Who is making the decisions…?




International donor governments

(humanitarian ODA)

National and regional offices

Common Funds

Governance and Coordination

Private individuals

Corporate etc

Linking assessment and response 1: getting to a programme


Information (baselines, livelihoods etc)

Early Warning



Situational analysis tools (social, economic, political, + sector specific: epidemiological, etc.)

Response analysis tools

(best practice, standards & protocols, evaluations, etc.)

Response analysis

(Design, resourcerequirements)


Programme design

  • Other factors:

  • Organisational policy

  • Resource availability

  • Added value

  • Politics

  • Etc.

Response Decision

Costed Programme

Situational analysis

Response analysis

Situational analysis

(Need/risk, vulnerability, capacities)

Caseload determination

Linking assessment and response decisions 2: getting to a number

EWS, vulnerability mapping, surveillance, scenario planning

Donor assessments

Population affected

International appeal

Donor resource allocation

Situational Assessments

Groups at most risk

Proposed interventions: programme design


& work plans



Information systems

Programme implementation

Situational analysis

Calculation of resource requirement

Response analysis



Different levels of analysis information need
Different levels of analysis & information need

  • Health cluster example

  • Compare:

  • Overall health sector

  • Sub-categories: resource availability, service coverage, risk factors, outcomes

  • Detailed indicators

  • Who needs which level of analysis?