Needs assessment

Carrying out a needs assessment is a critical step in the process of deciding how to respond to the needs of children in emergencies if we want to ensure that responses meet the most significant needs in the most appropriate ways.

Joint assessments and collaboration

Local agencies should be aware of and where appropriate contribute to the cluster rapid assessments and joint assessments. In the initial stages of an emergency, multi-sector assessments will be carried out, followed by sector-specific assessments in the following weeks.

Find out who is doing what, and where these assessments are taking place, before starting assessments of your own. Check the Child Protection Working Group/Area of Responsibility  as well as finding out what other agencies are doing. Make use of available information rather than asking people for information they have already provided.

Carrying out a needs assessment:

You many need to conduct your own needs assessments in the community you are intending to work with to enable an in depth understanding of these areas which will not be covered by joint assessments, and to enable a quality response to be delivered in a short time scale, enabling quality and appropriate programme responses for children from an early stage in the crisis.

Desk review

Find out as much as you can about the situation by searching for data from other reports and assessments which have already been carried out.

Useful sources of information:

Observations, interviews and focus group discussions

Develop key questions to answer through observation, interviews and focus group discussions. A simple survey based on the Child Protection Rapid Assessment questions is available here.

For more detailed guidelines on carrying out needs assessments see:

Participatory tools

Participatory research is based on the assumption that community members are the best ‘experts’ about their own community and situations.

Community members, especially children, should only be involved where participation does not pose a risk to their safety.

Tools for participatory needs assessment with children 

Click the links below for explanations of participatory research tools with children:

Also see Save the Children (2016), Children’s MIRA: Listening to Children during emergencies 

Tools for participatory needs assessment with adults

Additional guidelines for participatory research tools can be found here

What next?

How to use the information you discover: See more information on choosing a programme


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