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Review of Coordinated Assessment and Joint Analysis Processes and Outputs - Sept 2016

This is a review commissioned by OCHA's Programme Support Branch/Coordinated Assessment Support Section (CASS).

The Review was conducted by two independent consultants between June and August 2016. It included field visits in 7 countries (Central African Republic, Colombia, Jordan and Turkey for the Whole of Syria operation, Iraq, Nigeria and the Philippines), with more limited interviews undertaken in other countries mostly remotely.

The main objective of the review was to better understand the factors that hinder or support the conduct, quality and relevance of coordinated assessment outputs for various stakeholders, including UN agencies, international and national NGOs, and donors. The main results indicate that:

  • While progress has been made on multi-sectoral coordinated assessments, most assessments remain sector- or agency-driven. The value of coordinated assessment is constrained by its limited relevance for operational (versus strategic) planning, adaptation to the context, and value to access donors' funding in a competitive humanitarian environment. The Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) also presents limits in dynamic situations that require more frequent monitoring of the situation and needs. Preparedness for coordinated assessments was also found mostly lacking.
  • Among the factors supporting coordinated assessments, strong senior management support and commitment was found important, as well as increased agency participation with adequate resources and sufficiently skilled staff. The increased involvement of non-operational third parties was found beneficial as they bring technical skills and more independent analysis, but their contribution to capacity building in-country and buy-in from agencies could be increased. OCHA's role in supporting coordinated assessments is highly valued, while facing limitations in terms of sufficient staff with the required experience and skills both at field and Headquarters' level.
  • Guidance for coordinated assessments is available but not necessarily well known. Additional selected pieces of guidance would be useful on topics such as more in-depth analysis in protracted crises, integration of gender, communication with communities and cash transfer programming in assessments, and assessments in urban contexts. More transparency on analysis methods is also encouraged to ensure the validity and trust of estimates of the number of People in Need and severity analysis.

A series of practical recommendations was made to address limiting factors and achieve more useful and higher quality coordinated assessments (for more details, please see the Review report and summary):

Process:

- Promote assessment harmonization so that results of sectoral assessments can still be analysed inter-sectorally.
- Shift to a regular monitoring and analysis of trends (and programmes), instead of one-off assessments and analysis. This requires strengthening capacities within OCHA Country Offices and commitment at inter-agency/inter-sector level.
- Systematically set up Assessment Working Groups at country level to coordinate and sustain the engagement of stakeholders. In the field, also increase the involvement of national organisations in coordinated assessments, including training and translation of guidance and reports in local language.

Partnership:

- Consistent with the Grand Bargain commitments, involve technical third parties in a more predictable basis, and mobilise funding for their engagement. Also continue to build partnerships with a range of humanitarian and other actors to support coordinated assessments and analysis, and improve existing guidance and approaches.
- Also in line with commitments made at the Grand Bargain, advocate to donors so that they encourage the involvement of their operational partners in coordinated assessments. In parallel, increase the general understanding of the value of coordinated assessments, including their limitations.

Capacities:

- Increase OCHA capacity to facilitate coordinated assessments, by implementing a strategy to reinforce staff skills. 
- Reinforce preparedness for coordinated assessments, especially in countries at high risk of emergencies.

Methods and tools:

- Improve the quality of coordinated assessment outputs and inter-sectoral analysis, including transparency on methods, and development of analytical framework and indicators and thresholds to assess the severity of needs.
- Produce a modular multi-sector assessment toolbox with templates that are easily adaptable to each country and crisis context.
- Fine-tune existing guidance to support coordinated assessments in protracted crises and urban contexts, and strengthen the analysis of cross-cutting issues such as gender, communicating with communities, and cash transfer programming.

CASS will take the lead to integrate these recommendations in its workplan for next year and the following, subject to other priorities as part of OCHA Strategic Framework and staff and budget limits. PSB/CASS will also follow-up with Country and Regional Offices and agencies as required for those recommendations that fall more directly under their remit.

Do not hesitate to reach out to CASS (salazar@un.org) for any additional information you may need.

Organization(s): 
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Original Publication Date: 
28 Sep 2016
Document type: 
Evaluation and Lessons Learned
Theme(s): 
Multi-Cluster Initial Rapid Assessment
Needs Assessment