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Response monitoring is a continuous process that tracks the humanitarian assistance delivered to affected populations compared to targets set out in the humanitarian response plan (HRP). 

Monitoring tracks the inputs, and the outputs resulting from interventions to affected populations, charts the outcomes of cluster activities, and measures progress towards the strategic objectives of the HRP, while considering the diversity of the affected population and their perspectives of the response. It is a key step in the programme cycle as it seeks to determine if the humanitarian community is doing what it has committed to doing in the HRP.


Response monitoring seeks to achieve two main goals:

  • to identify shortcomings in the delivery of humanitarian aid as planned in the HRP, and 
  • to improve accountability to affected populations and other stakeholders.

It is important to understand however that response monitoring explicitly does not aim to:

  • follow changes in the context or humanitarian needs, which is needs assessment
  • track operational aspects of the response, which is part of coordination, except in the initial weeks of a sudden-onset emergency
  • examine the performance of the coordination systems, which is process monitoring and is addressed through cluster performance monitoring and operational peer review
  • gauge the quality and impact of the response delivered, which is evaluation.

Preparing - Monitoring - Reporting

In the preparation stage, the clusters and inter-cluster coordination group prepare monitoring plans and codify these in a humanitarian response monitoring framework document. This framework is a set of practices, performed by all humanitarian actors, to collect and analyse response monitoring data.  At the preparatory stage response monitoring has strong linkages to three levels in the HRP process, namely when selecting indicators and setting targets for measuring against strategic objectives, and cluster objectives and outputs of cluster member activities.

Based on the monitoring framework document, humanitarian actors monitor the activities planned in the HRP, collecting and analysing the results at an agreed upon schedule. The monitoring data is made publicly available for use in public reports and forms the basis of the periodic monitoring report (PMR).

Key product: Periodic monitoring report (PMR)

This report is an internal management tool intended to help humanitarian country teams (HCTs) regularly examine whether sufficient progress is being made in reaching strategic and cluster objectives. It is designed to aid in determining why any of the objectives are not being met and to provide an evidence base for taking decisions about the direction of the response.  In addition, the report provides a structure to analyse changes in context and needs, provide an update on funding received versus requirements, and identify constraints and gaps.

In-depth, practical information on the production of the PMR, the roles and responsibilities of the various partners involved in the process and suggested reporting schedules are available in the Periodic Monitoring Report Guidance and template.

Key product: Humanitarian dashboard

The PMR and the humanitarian dashboard are complementary products. While the humanitarian dashboard provides a graphical overview of needs, the response and gaps, the PMR provides more in-depth data and analysis, which can inform strategic level discussions and decision-making. For guidance on the production of the humanitarian dashboard, see the Toolbox.