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Can severity profiles offer an alternative to persons-in-need estimates? An experiment with data from Syria

With “Can severity profiles offer an alternative to persons-in-need estimates? An experiment with data from Syria”, ACAPS contributes to the discussion of how best to profile persons affected by disasters and crises. A statistical technique known as “Latent Profile Analysis” is used to link causal indicators to sectoral severity ratings when useful persons-in-need estimates are not available. With data on almost 5,000 localities in Syria, six profiles are estimated, each with levels of severity and a particular causal signature. Such groupings of affected communities may be more informative to response planners than mere one-dimensional rankings.

04/10/2017 File 2.34 MB

Expert Judgment - The use of expert judgment in humanitarian analysis: theory, methods and applications

With this study on the use of expert judgment in humanitarian analysis, ACAPS explores the theory of expert judgment. The note provides methods for the elicitation of expert judgement and several case studies to illustrate its practical applicability within humanitarian contexts. The overall objective of this work is to enhance the use of expert judgment in humanitarian settings. The summary and full note speak primarily to humanitarian analysts who oversee the production of expert judgment, but it is also instructive for decision-makers, the experts themselves and for interested stakeholders.

07/08/2017 File 6.12 MB English

Expert Judgment Summary - August 2017

07/08/2017 File 722.02 KB English

Cognitive Biases in Humanitarian Analysis - Illustration (poster)

20/06/2017 File 1.22 MB

The Analysis Spectrum - Illustration (poster)

20/06/2017 File 866.67 KB

Spotting Dubious Data - Illustration (poster)

20/06/2017 File 1.87 MB

The Stages of Analytical Maturity - Illustration (poster)

20/06/2017 File 893.95 KB

The Analysis Canvas - Illustration (poster)

20/06/2017 File 348.63 KB

Sources of Error in Humanitarian Assessments - Illustration (poster)

20/06/2017 File 984.7 KB

The Analysis Workflow - Illustration (poster)

20/06/2017 File 658.6 KB

Scenario Building in Preparation for or during Humanitarian Crises

Scenario building, an analysis of how situations might evolve, is an essential part of humanitarian operations as it informs contingency planning and preparedness measures ahead of possible developments. It can also help to ensure programming is sufficiently robust to withstand changes in the operational environment.

This brief provides a step by step approach on how to build scenarios. The methodology can be applied to a range of settings and timeframes, from a protracted conflict to a sudden onset disaster.

18/08/2016 File 1.01 MB

Severity Measures in Humanitarian Needs Assessments

For the past several years, ACAPS has assisted the development and application of severity measures. The assistance was provided in the shape of analytic tools, personnel on mission as well as remote statistical support. This note builds on key lessons from past needs assessments and recommends good practices for how to measure severity for future ones. It discusses two dominant types of severity measures, illustrated with the measurement efforts that the humanitarian community undertook in two major theaters: sectoral persons-in-need estimates combined with severity ratings (2016 Syria Humanitarian Needs Overview), and non-sectoral indices combining vulnerability, exposure and intensity indicators (2015 earthquakes in Nepal). It demonstrates specific improvements in both types. 

11/08/2016 File 1.9 MB

Questionnaire Design for Needs Assessments in Humanitarian Emergencies

This technical brief aims to support the design of questionnaires for use in humanitarian emergencies by providing a set of guiding principles and a step-by-step process.

25/07/2016 File 1.12 MB

Questionnaire Design for Needs Assessments in Humanitarian Emergencies, Summary

This summary provides an overview of the basic rules to build an effective questionnaire. It is divided into three parts: purpose and principles of questionnaire design, the ten steps of designing a questionnaire and a set of do’s.

25/07/2016 File 190.6 KB

"Homo Analyticus" - Humanitarian Analyst Profile

Humanitarian analysts apply specific frameworks, structured techniques and analytical standards to review, evaluate and make sense of the often partial information available. They tailor their analysis to their end user’s specific questions (e.g., who are the affected groups most in need of assistance after the earthquake), contributing to the design and implementation of more efficient humanitarian programmes.

23/06/2016 File 614.99 KB English

Data Cleaning

This document provides guidance for data analysts to find the right data cleaning strategy when dealing with needs assessment data. The guidance is applicable to both primary and secondary data. It complements the ACAPS technical note on How to approach a dataset which specifically details data cleaning operations for primary data entered into an Excel spreadsheet during rapid assessments.

15/04/2016 File 705.47 KB English

Logical Reasoning in Humanitarian Analysis

The aim of logic is to develop a system of methods and principles that can be used as criteria for evaluating the arguments of others – and as guides in constructing arguments of our own. It is thus critically important for analysts to apply logical reasoning in order to provide good analytical products.

07/04/2016 File 863.17 KB English

Cognitive Biases

Biases are normal processes designed to make decisions quickly. They are unconscious, automatic and non-controllable and there is no magical solution to overcome these reflexes. However, knowing their effects, when and where they apply as well as some key structured techniques, can help mitigate their negative consequences. Systematically identifying their effects on your analysis is a habit that each analyst should possess.

23/03/2016 File 816.3 KB English


Scientific thinking needs to be taught and cultivated so it becomes seemingly intuitive when humanitarians conduct analysis under pressure and tight deadlines.

05/03/2016 File 719.5 KB English

Information Gaps in Multiple Needs Assessments in Disaster and Conflict Areas

16/02/2016 File 1.08 MB

Persistence of Severity Patterns over Time

16/02/2016 File 640.51 KB

Information Gaps in Multiple Needs in Disaster and Conflict Areas – Demo Files, February 2016

16/02/2016 File 2.37 MB

Review of Multisectoral Coordinated Needs Assessment Reports

In 2015, ACAPS undertook a review of 105 multisectoral coordinated needs assessment (CNA) reports released over the previous ten years. The objective of this document was to determine trends in reporting relevance and methods, and to identify factors that influence the completeness and speed of reporting.

01/01/2016 File 910.68 KB

Spotting Dubious Data

This technical brief provides practical guidance on how to interpret the context. It provides a list of common problems found in the numbers appearing in humanitarian reports and illustrates these problems with examples.

30/11/2015 File 688.61 KB English

Lessons Learned: Social Media Monitoring during Humanitarian Crises

21/09/2015 File 1004.64 KB

The use of Data Envelopment Analysis to calculate priority scores in needs assessments, Jul 2015

08/07/2015 File 509.75 KB

Data Envelopment Analysis - Demo files, Jul 2015

01/07/2015 File 983.96 KB

Rapid Humanitarian Assessment in Urban Settings

This Brief provides guidance on carrying out joint rapid assessments of humanitarian needs in urban environments within the first weeks of a disaster. Organisations can useit to ensure that joint assessments are carried out appropriately in urban areas, and to update their assessment practice.

01/04/2015 File 1.07 MB

Confidence in Needs Assessment Data, April 2015

01/04/2015 File 923.75 KB

Moderate Need, Acute Need, Valid categories for humanitarian needs assessments, March 2015

26/03/2015 File 569.88 KB

Demographic Profile, Using Secondary Data

The purpose of this technical brief is to assist humanitarian workers in using secondary demographic data in emergencies. It recommends building a context specific demographic profile based on available information. It proposes some rule-of-thumb standards, which can be adapted to the local context, tailoring to the purpose and the time available.

01/08/2014 File 1.3 MB

Pocket Guide: Information & Communication Questions in Rapid Needs Assessments

23/07/2014 File 975.72 KB

Composite Measures of Local Disaster Impact - Demonstration Workbook (Excel file)

27/05/2014 File 535.8 KB

Composite Measures of Local Disaster Impact - Lessons from Typhoon Yolanda, Philippines

27/05/2014 File 983.14 KB

Secondary Data Review - Sudden Onset Natural Disasters

01/05/2014 File 994.91 KB

Quick and Easy Guide: Assessing Information & Communications Needs Booklet

01/05/2014 File 2.14 MB

Secondary Data Review - Sudden Onset Natural Disasters - Annexes

01/05/2014 File 7.29 MB

Severity and Priority - Their Measurements in Rapid Needs Assessments

This note investigates how to construct and use the severity and priority scales.

08/08/2013 File 658.3 KB

How to Approach a Dataset: Part 1 - Database Design

01/08/2013 File 1.03 MB

How to Approach a Dataset: Part 1 - Database Design (Excel file)

01/08/2013 File 489.52 KB

Compared to What: Analytical Thinking and Needs Assessment

This technical brief breaks down the analysis process into simple steps to show that analysis consists of a fairly limited set of basic moves.

01/08/2013 File 961.3 KB

How Sure Are You? Judging Quality and Usability of Data Collected during Rapid Needs Assessments

The objective of this technical brief is to provide guidance on how you could assess the quality of information used as evidence for decision-making during humanitarian needs assessments. It aims to assist analysts in understanding the distinction between sources and information, assessing the quality of different data types (primary and secondary data), and using appropriate criteria for judging information generated through quantitative or qualitative research methods.

01/08/2013 File 707.2 KB

Scenario Development - Summary Brief

A scenario projects alternative ways in which a situation might evolve. It is a set of informed assumptions about a situation that may require humanitarian action. Building scenarios involves speculating about an uncertain future and envisaging different possible outcomes for a given initial situation. When applied to the framework of a needs assessment, scenarios are used to plan for possible future humanitarian crises and needs.

18/06/2013 File 434.27 KB

Call Detail Records : The Use of Mobile Phone Data to Track and Predict Population Displacement in Disasters

This paper describes the potential use of anonymised mobile phone activity data as a way to predict the movement of groups of people in disasters.

12/06/2013 File 472.67 KB

How to Approach a Dataset: Part 3 - Analysis

01/03/2013 File 234.9 KB

How to Approach a Dataset : Part 2 - Data Preparation (Excel file)

01/03/2013 File 512.17 KB

How to Approach a Dataset: Part 3 - Analysis

01/03/2013 File 1020.7 KB

How to Approach a Dataset: Part 2 - Data Preparation

01/03/2013 File 968.58 KB

The Use of Evidence in Humanitarian Decision Making

This paper reports the results of a study undertaken during 2012 by Tufts University for the Assessment Capacities Project ACAPS, as part of the latter’s “Operational Learning” strand of work. This study is designed to complement the work of ACAPS on strengthening needs assessment by addressing the question of how assessments and other sources of information and analysis are used by humanitarian decision makers. The study is based on a combination of literature review, case studies, and key informant interviews.

01/01/2013 File 765.48 KB

A computer simulation of needs assessments in disasters. The impact of sample size, logistical difficulty and measurement error

The computer simulation was part of a larger study of data management and data analysis in Phase 1 and 2 assessments. Twelve models were run, varying three parameters: sample size, logistical difficulty and level of measurement error.

01/11/2012 File 992.09 KB

Coordinated Assessments in Emergencies. What We Know Now: Key Lessons from Field Experience

This document uses lessons learned from recent coordinated assessments to distil key points, advice, and pitfalls in carrying out a Coordinated Assessment during the first weeks of a disaster. It provides a general introduction to what has been learned about coordinated assessments in terms of what works and what does not. As such, it is aimed towards humanitarian personnel responding to or preparing for emergencies both at field and headquarters level.

01/11/2012 File 402.91 KB

Disaster Summary Sheet, Armed Conflict

This disaster summary sheet (DSS) provides a general profile of the potential impact of an armed conflict. The DSS helps understanding what the actual impact and priority needs during an armed crisis may be, based on experience and lessons learnt from previous crises.

01/11/2012 File 395.71 KB

Estimation of Affected Population Figures

The aim of this Technical brief is to inform on how to to effective, timely, accurate and reliable information on the numbers and locations of people affected by a crisis is crucial for an effective and efficient humanitarian response. Without statistics and demographics, effective assistance and protection would ultimately become impossible.

01/10/2012 File 875.86 KB

Table Design

This technical brief has as objective to show readers best practices in how to design effective tables thus improving their visual communication.

01/09/2012 File 1.39 MB

Documenting Methods and Data in Rapid Needs Aassessments

This note offers guidance for writing the methodology section of rapid needs assessment reports. It also enumerates good practices in documenting the databases that the assessment team leaves behind for its principals, successors and other interested parties.

16/05/2012 File 458.26 KB

Composite Measures Demonstration

08/05/2012 File 1.44 MB

Composite Measures and Rapid Needs Assessments

More and more quantitative data are available as pre-crisis or in crisis information and very little is known about how they can more effectively be used by assessment practitioners for better humanitarian targeting. This document provides practical guidance on the use of composite measures in the context of rapid assessment.

08/05/2012 File 1.21 MB

Qualitative and Quantitative Research Techniques

Collection, collation, analysis, and synthesis of qualitative and quantitative information, gathered and analysed using appropriate sources, tools, and methods is the cornerstone of rapid needs assessments that allows decision makers to plan a timely, appropriate, and coordinated emergency response.

01/05/2012 File 358.95 KB

Rapid Estimation of Affected Population Figures

This document provide an an exhaustive and structured review of methods, which have been incorporated by humanitarian agencies or that are of potential for use in estimating human population size in an emergency context.

01/05/2012 File 1.53 MB

Use of Colour in Data Display

The aim of this technical brief is to inspire humanitarian data analysts and enhance their capacity to communicate their findings through effective charts and graphs.

01/05/2012 File 2.14 MB

Flash Appeals Review (2008-2010)

This study aims at reviewing how needs are presented and analysed in 18 Appeals (Initial and Revised) of nine major crises over the past three years in order to identify best practices and major shortcomings for improving the development of future Flash Appeals.

01/04/2012 File 2.13 MB

Flash Appeals Review (2008-2010): Dashboard

01/04/2012 File 957.35 KB

Assessment Team: Job Descriptions

Standard job descriptions for each potential positions of an assessment team (from drivers to assessment coordinators).

01/03/2012 File 991.22 KB

Building an Effective Assessment Team

This document is designed to guide the first steps of assembling, managing and training an assessment team to perform a joint rapid assessment in the first weeks of a disaster.

01/03/2012 File 581.32 KB

Severity Rating: Yemen Data Analyses Demo

24/01/2012 File 786.15 KB

Severity Rating: Assessment Data Management Template

24/01/2012 File 54.93 KB

Severity Rating: Data Management Note

24/01/2012 File 663.54 KB

Severity Rating: Analysis Note

24/01/2012 File 910.92 KB

NOMAD Mobile Data Collection Systems Research

NOMAD in partnership with CartONG and ACAPS published a research paper reviewing existing mobile data collection software systems, projects, and initiatives.

16/01/2012 File 1.23 MB

Disaster Summary Sheet, Floods

Not all disasters have the same impact or affect the population in the same way. This document focuses on impact and priority needs in floods context.

01/01/2012 File 1 MB

Disaster Summary Sheet, Earthquakes

This can be used immediately after receiving an earthquake alert as a framework for estimating the impact of the disaster.

01/01/2012 File 647.82 KB

Direct Observation and Key Informant Interview Techniques

How to maximize observation and gather information on: who are the most affected, where are they and what are their key priority needs.

01/10/2011 File 409.85 KB

Key Informant and Direct Observation: Pocket version

This document highlights key issues to remember when conducting key informants interviews and direct observation. A practical 2-pager to bring to the field!

01/10/2011 File 236.45 KB

Heat Maps as Tools to Summarise Priorities

01/10/2011 File 773.27 KB

Heat Maps as Tools to Summarise Priorities (Annex)

01/10/2011 File 104.21 KB

Purposive Sampling and Site Selection

This technical brief provides guidance on how to select relevant groups and identify the most appropriate sites to assess.

01/10/2011 File 628.83 KB

Survey of Surveys

This document is an initial attempt to lay the groundwork for a more structured approach to Survey of surveys (SoS) data collection and a path to generating more meaningful SoS information products.

01/07/2011 File 683.87 KB

Disaster Summary Sheet, Tropical Cyclones

What are the actual impact and priority needs after a cyclone? Based on experience and lessons learned from medium and large scale tropical cyclones that have occurred in the past this document answers these questions.

01/07/2011 File 368.17 KB

Review of Information Needs

To better understand the information needs of emergency decision makers in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, ACAPS has collected and analysed information needs from different organizations to improve information about needs being made available to emergency decision makers within the first days of a crisis.

13/05/2011 File 224.81 KB