ASSESSING SEVERITY to support evidence-based decision making
ACAPS analysis assesses the severity of different components of a crisis in order to support evidence-based decision making. We use the INFORM Severity Index to enable comparisons of scale and severity across the world; we assess the level of humanitarian access in various contexts; and we analyse the level of humanitarian needs for certain population groups in specific contexts.
The INFORM Severity Index
The INFORM Severity Index is a regularly updated, and easily interpreted model for measuring the severity of humanitarian crisis globally. This global severity analysis is coherent with other types of severity analysis conducted by ACAPS, in the field, at a subnational level.
The INFORM Severity Index is a composite index, which brings together 31 core indicators, organized in three dimensions: impact, conditions of affected people, and complexity. All the indicators are scored on a scale of 1 to 5. These scores are then aggregated into components, the three dimensions (Impact, Conditions, Complexity), and the overall severity category based on the analytical framework. The three dimensions have been weighted according to their contribution to severity: impact of the crisis (20%); conditions of affected people (50%); complexity (30%). The weightings are currently a best estimate and will be refined using expert analysis and statistical methods. Each crisis will fall into 1 of 5 categories based on their score ranging from very low to high.
The INFORM Severity Index aggregates information from a range of credible, publicly available sources, such as UN agencies, governments and other multilateral organisations. This includes for example the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) and Integrated Food Security Phase classification (IPC) where available. Expert judgement is involved in deciding what data to include. A reliability level estimate is provided for each crisis.
The INFORM Severity Index also uses and provides information on the ‘distribution of severity’, i.e. the number of people that fall into different categories of severity within the same crisis, which constitutes the second pillar of the model. Not all people affected by a crisis are equally affected and they have different levels of need that require a different response. This distribution is important for understanding the overall severity of a crisis. It is also important to capture and present this distribution, considering that crises having low overall severity may have some people who are severely affected.
The INFORM Severity Index is an open and free tool for everybody, you can find the model updated on a monthly basis on ACAPS and INFORM websites.
OTHER TECHNICAL BRIEFS ON SEVERITY
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.
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.
PERSISTENCE OF SEVERITY PATTERNS OVER TIME
SEVERITY AND PRIORITY - THEIR MEASUREMENTS IN RAPID NEEDS ASSESSMENTS
This note investigates how to construct and use the severity and priority scales.