Identifying potential future changes
ACAPS Global Risk Analysis outlines a number of key contexts where a notable deterioration may occur within the next six months, leading to a spike in humanitarian needs.
The objective of ACAPS Quarterly/Annual risk analysis is to enable humanitarian decision makers to understand potential future changes that would likely have humanitarian consequences. By exposing the more probable developments and understanding their impact, they can be included in planning and preparedness which should improve response.
At ACAPS, risk analysis enables us to:
- ensure our monitoring of countries and crises is forward-looking and our consequent analysis more informed;
- gain advance warning about countries and crises on which we ought to report in more depth;
- respond to specific requests for risk reports.
All of which aim to inform the ACAPS audience, and thus the humanitarian community, of likely future events.
ACAPS analysts conduct daily monitoring and independent analysis of more than 150 countries to support evidence-based decision-making in the humanitarian sector.
Risk analysis depends on a solid understanding of the context and on investigating the interaction of the variables that cause or resist change. Risk analysis is a process that should be repeated at regular intervals and the change in risk recorded over time. Regular reviews of risks that analyse why previously identified risks did or did not materialise will help strengthen the analyst’s ability to create chains of events that point towards the emergence of a hazard and assess probability.
Risk is a function of impact and probability: i.e. the risk posed by a potential hazard increases as either the expected impact of the hazard increases or the probability that it will occur increases. Risk analysis is not an exact science.
The occurrence of a risk prompts a change from the status quo that leads to a notable deterioration in the humanitarian situation and a higher number of people in need (exposure), or a higher severity of need (intensity). The crises identified in the quarterly report are selected because there are certain triggers that may emerge over the coming six months that point towards this potential shift. A deteriorating humanitarian situation that continues at the same rate is considered a trend rather than a risk. Such crises are not included in the report, as while the humanitarian situation may be deteriorating, the rate of deterioration is not expected to exceed the current trend.
ACAPS develops ad hoc scenarios, to help provide necessary analysis of how situations may evolve and identify the potential humanitarian impact.
Scenarios project 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 needs assessments, scenarios are used to plan for possible future humanitarian crises and needs.
There are different approaches to examining possible futures. For most humanitarian settings, ACAPS recommends the ‘chain of plausibility’ approach, which starts with identifying the variables that are likely drive change in the humanitarian situation. For each scenario the likely trigger events and humanitarian impacts are then identified, as well as an estimation of the humanitarian caseload and likelihood of each scenario occurring.
Previous scenario building by ACAPS:
- European asylum-seeker crisis - November 2015
- Impact of El Niño and La Niña in Indonesia - March 2016
- Northeast Nigeria - October 2016
- Middle East - EU migration - February 2017
- Migrant/refugee crisis in Europe - April 2017
- Movement back to Syria - September 2017
- Migration in West and North Africa - November 2018
- Displacement and access in Afghanistan - June 2019
For further information about the possibility of receiving ACAPS support with scenario-building, please contact us at info(at)acaps.org
Guidance & tools
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.
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.