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ECB Project on TwitterThe Emergency Food Security and Livelihoods 48hr assessment tool is now available in #Bahasa #Indonesia: http://t.co/Ij4HZCDcys 20th May
ECB Project & ACAPS collaborate to improve humanitarian needs assessments
Communicating with a group of women during the joint needs assessment in southern Bangladesh. © ACAPS 2011
Published on 6 October 2011
The Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) is dedicated to improving the assessment of needs in complex emergencies, disasters and crises, and as such is a key partner of the ECB Project, as both projects recognize improved information should contribute to an improved response.
We have been working together to strengthen multi-sector inter-agency approaches to assessment, in ways that are compatible with the guidance and tools of the Needs Assessment Task Force (NATF), and that also meet the needs of country level stakeholders within existing coordination mechanisms.
Over the last 12 months, ACAPS has worked together with four of the ECB consortia.
In Bolivia, ACAPS supported the development of a joint assessment methodology to understand recovery needs after floods, enhancing coordination among consortia members. Bolivia started testing with the JNA tool and approach in early 2010.
ACAPS partnered with the ECB Project to identify ways to support ongoing coordinated assessments and information needs for the famine in the Horn of Africa. This has included developing Secondary Data Reviews (SDR) on the evolving situation, planning assessment training for national staff in Somalia, and ongoing technical assessment support.
Coordinated Assessment in Bangladesh
This monsoon season, heavier than usual rains resulted in flooding in many areas of Bangladesh. Prolonged water-logging caused significant displacement as many people re-located themselves to high ground on roadsides and embankments, as well as to collective centers such as schools. Some people continue to reside in homes surrounded by water cutting them off from facilities, while others continue to live in houses that are damaged, collapsed and badly flooded.
Injured man in Bangladesh uses a makeshift raft to get from is house, through the waste high water to the road. After it became clear flood waters were not receding, many assessment reports were released by different agencies. The ECB Project initially resisted a joint assessment, preferring not to duplicate the activities of others and focus on consolidating the information already available. The differences in assessment scope, methods and tools made this extremely challenging, in many cases methodologies were unclear, as were the tools used.
Kaiser Rejve, Humanitarian Program Coordinator for Oxfam GB comments:
"In the first weeks after the water-logging started, we had more than 10 reports from different partners. But none gave us an overall picture of the situation and they were difficult to compare because they were all so different."
These challenges resulted in the ECB Project team gaining the support from 20 INGOs and NGOs for a coordinated assessment. At the request of ECB teams in Bangladesh, ACAPS first carried out a scoping study on the current status of assessments.
Preliminary findings and lessons learned
Initial findings indicated overwhelmingly the short-term community priority is food. Predictions indicate it could be several months before the water recedes, when the reconstruction of houses will become a major priority for communities. Livelihoods have been significantly affected, with agriculture, shrimp cultivation and fishing almost completely destroyed in affected areas.
Gaps in capacity relating to assessments were highlighted, as was the importance of advance planning and defining roles and responsibilities based on available resources.
Coordination emerged as an issue, both in relation to ensuring the assessment was well executed, and so that it fitted within a unified system to avoid duplication and to allow information sharing.
Abdul Wahed, Emergency Response & Preparedness Coordinator, CARE Bangladesh, comments:
"The assessment in the south west has highlighted the importance of coordination. With the full buy-in of so many INGOs and the interest of UN partners and government, the next challenge for us is to bring about more participation into one coordinated assessment process, including the UN and the Government."
ECB Bangladesh is planning a lessons learned workshop in October based around the assessment, and engaging all stakeholders to help develop a strong needs assessment culture in Bangladesh. Donors in Bangladesh have also expressed interest in the link between better information and better responses.
Helen Bryer, at the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in Bangladesh comments:
Strong needs assessments are at the heart of any effective response, allowing all actors to target their support where it can add the most value, and help the most people. DFID is committed to working with key stakeholders to build better capacity to assess needs, and to support a coordinated response that reaches the most affected and vulnerable.
In a country like Bangladesh which faces small to medium scale emergencies almost yearly, having the capacity, skills and coordination in place to carry out needs assessments is important. The opportunity for the ECB Project and the broader humanitarian community to learn from this assessment is something that should not be over-looked.
Lars Peter Nissen, Director of ACAPS comments:
"ACAPS is very pleased to have been able to provide support to the ECB Project and other humanitarian actors in Bangladesh on this coordinated assessment. In such a disaster prone context, what is most important now is that agencies make time to look closely at the learning from this real-time experience and use this to map out how assessments can be improved in the future. ACAPS is ready to support this leaning process."
The floods assessment process in Bangladesh
- Review/development of tools
- Decision on methodology
- Training of teams
- Field data collection
- Team debriefing
- Data entry
- Data analysis and interpretation
- Report preparation and review
- Development of a dissemination strategy
The assessment methodology:
- Quantitative information on magnitude and scope of the situation, collected from local government
- Qualitative information on community impact, obtained through community group discussion and direct observation
- Teams of 5 were formed taking into consideration gender, sector knowledge and a mix of agencies
- Teams traveled by car, motor-cycle, rickshaw, boat and foot to reach 63 sites in the affected area
Written by Sandie Walton-Ellery, ACAPs. Sandie reported during the Bangladesh joint needs assessment.
17 May 2013: ECB Project publish new Case Study on Simulations
The new case study addresses the questions ‘What is a simulation and why use them?’, before focusing on six different simulation types to compare, contrast and draw lessons from. Read more
16 May 2013: Government, donors and humanitarian community prepare for joint needs assessment after Cyclone Mahasen
Arout 50 representatives from the donor community and International Non-Governmental Organizations in Bangladesh have held a meeting at the Save the Children office to decide on a response plan for when Cyclone Mahasen makes landfall. Read more
15 May 2013: Humanitarian agencies prepare for cyclone Mahasen
ECB Project Agencies and ACAPS representatives are preparing for cyclone Mahasen which according to reports from the Bangladesh Meteorological Department is anticipated will make landfall around the Chittagong area on Thursday 16th May. Read more
The Good Enough Guide to Assessments (GEGA) is being designed by the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), using the ‘good enough’ approach, to produce a simple, practical handbook on needs assessments. As part of the GEGA review process, three ECB Project consortia successfully held consultation workshops to provide feedback on the guide. Read more