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A coordinated approach to the assessment of an emergency and to the prioritisation of the needs of affected people lays the foundation for a coherent and efficient humanitarian response.

For protracted crises, the depth and volume of information needed for an effective response increases as it evolves. This often translates into a requirement for in-depth cluster/sector, thematic or agency-specific assessments to inform planning and operations, which in turn necessitates a harmonized assessment approach with joint needs analysis.

Evidence base

Needs assessment provides the evidence base for strategic planning, as well as the baseline information upon which situation and response monitoring systems will rely. It should therefor form a continous process throughout the humanitarian programme cycle.

Coordinated assessments are carried out in partnership with all humanitarian actors in order to assess the humanitarian situation and to identify the needs of the affected population. Local and national authorities, civil society and affected communities are encouraged to participate in this process, the output of which is a humanitarian needs overview (HNO).

Key output: Humanitarian needs overview

Humanitarian needs overviews should be produced twice a year to support the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) in developing a shared understanding of the impact and evolution of a crisis and to inform response planning. This document presents a comprehensive analysis of the overall situation and associated needs. It is structured along the analytical framework developed for the Multi-Cluster/Sector Intial Rapid Assessment (MIRA).

The humanitarian needs overview builds and expands upon the needs analysis chapter of the former CAP document, consisting of a discrete step in the implementation of the programme cycle. Its development is a shared responsibility among all humanitarian actors, requiring strong collaboration between programme and information management staff as well as support from the OCHA country office and the inter-cluster coordination mechanism.

Severity ranking

To support the prioritization of needs, HCTs have the option to use a standardized tool based on a severity ranking approach. The tool provides a method and structure to prioritize needs by categorising and weighing indicators along geographical areas, sectors, inter-sectoral aspects and demographics. It can be adapted to either data poor or data rich contexts. Findings derived from applying this tool should be included in the humanitarian needs overview. The tool is optional, and other tools developed for different contexts may alternatively be used for severity ranking.

Key output: Humanitarian dashboard

In addition, each country will continue to produce a humanitarian dashboard to present data on needs, response monitoring and gaps per crisis in an easily digestible format, based on the information presented in the humanitarian needs overview.