Fostering NGO's and frontline responders' engagement


The 10 Grand Bargain workstreams

Greater Transparency
More support and funding tools to local and national responders
Increase the use and coordination of cash-based programming
Reduce Duplication and Management costs with periodic functional reviews
Improve Joint and Impartial Needs Assessments
A Participation Revolution: include people receiving aid in making the decisions which affect their lives
Enhanced quality funding through reduced earmarking and multi-year planning and funding
Enhanced quality funding through reduced earmarking and multi-year planning and funding
Harmonize and simplify reporting requirements
Enhance engagement between humanitarian and development actors

Improve Joint and Impartial Needs Assessments


Aid organisations and donors commit to:

  1. Provide a single, comprehensive, cross-sectoral, methodologically sound and impartial overall assessment of needs for each crisis to inform strategic decisions on how to respond and fund thereby reducing the number of assessments and appeals produced by individual organisations.
  2. Coordinate and streamline data collection to ensure compatibility, quality and comparability and minimising intrusion into the lives of affected people. Conduct the overall assessment in a transparent, collaborative process led by the Humanitarian Coordinator/Resident Coordinator with full involvement of the Humanitarian Country Team and the clusters/sectors and in the case of sudden onset disasters, where possible, by the government. Ensure sector-specific assessments for operational planning are undertaken under the umbrella of a coordinated plan of assessments at inter-cluster/sector level.
  3. Share needs assessment data in a timely manner, with the appropriate mitigation of protection and privacy risks. Jointly decide on assumptions and analytical methods used for projections and estimates.
  4. Dedicate resources and involve independent specialists within the clusters to strengthen data collection and analysis in a fully transparent, collaborative process, which includes a brief summary of the methodological and analytical limitations of the assessment.
  5. Prioritise humanitarian response across sectors based on evidence established by the analysis. As part of the IASC Humanitarian Response Plan process on the ground, it is the responsibility of the empowered Humanitarian Coordinator/Resident Coordinator to ensure the development of the prioritised, evidence-based response plans.
  6. Commission independent reviews and evaluations of the quality of needs assessment findings and their use in prioritisation to strengthen the confidence of all stakeholders in the needs assessment.
  7. Conduct risk and vulnerability analysis with development partners and local authorities, in adherence to humanitarian principles, to ensure the alignment of humanitarian and development programming.

The co-conveners: OCHA and ECHO
NGOs co-champion: VOICE
Helpful contacts: Kimberly Lietz and Gerard Van Driessche
Official IASC page on this workstream available here

Main progress in the last 3 years:

The Grand Bargain Commitments on Needs Assessments are a mix of assessment outputs (e.g. comprehensive and cross-sectoral), methods and resources to assessments (e.g. transparent, collaborative, shared data, with adequate capacities and independent reviews), and components of assessments (e.g. risks and vulnerability analysis).  Through a series of workshops, participants identified a set of priority issues and associated activities. While the ODI second annual independent report was critical on the progress, in 2018 substantial progress has been made mainly due to high-level investment from the Eminent Person and coordinated action from OCHA and ECHO as co-conveners. However, the workstream still faces substantial political challenges, including a lack of confidence among aid organization that their investments in enhancing the quality of needs assessment and analysis will result in more informed and principled allocation of resources by donors [1].

Accomplishments in 2019:

  • The Grand Bargain on Needs Assessments package of tools and guidance was released in June 2019 at the time of the Grand Bargain Annual Meeting, this included:
    • Coordinated Needs Assessment Ethos
    • Quality Criteria and Evaluation Methodology for Needs Assessments
    • Joint Inter-Sectoral Analysis Framework (initial draft)
    • Guidance on Ensuring Useful and Usable Data (EDUAAR)
  • A workshop was held on joint humanitarian-development-peace analysis which resulted in a set of key messages for senior management and initial thoughts on next steps
  • Capacity Strengthening: OCHA has expanded its Advanced Training on Analysis in Humanitarian Settings (ATHAS) training to include participants from other UN Agencies, NGOs and donors.
  • Engagement with NGOs through Save the Children/OCHA workshop for senior NGO staff (October 2019)
  • Advocacy with senior management, IASC and donors on attention, resourcing and incentivization. A number of donor meetings and fora were organized in 2019 with a specific focus on providing coordinated support to humanitarian agencies on the GBNA.
  • Field application of the tools and guidance was initiated through the 2020 enhanced Humanitarian Programme Cycle, which included revisions to guidance, templates and approaches to strengthen linkages between situation, multi-sectoral needs and response monitoring
  • Data Entry and Exploration Platform (DEEP) being used in 35 countries, and 25 crises. While its main use is to support strategic planning, it is also being used by OHCHR and ICRC for other purposes. Throughout 2019 additional features were added, including strengthened security, situation analysis features, user guides and tutorials, and translation into Spanish.
  • While communications, rollout and application of GBNA tools and guidance was a priority for 2019, emphasis was primarily on the joint intersectoral analysis elements as linked to the 2020 enhanced HPC.

Why should you engage?

A number of discussions have taken place on the Grand Bargain Commitments on Needs Assessments (GBNA) during which many organizations have expressed concern with the wording that, it is argued, reflects neither identified best practice, a coherent vision, nor the current main barriers to an evidence-based, cross-sectoral analysis of needs and causal factors to inform response priorities. Then, a Theory of Change was developed which clarified the actionable steps required to make progress on the commitments. Moreover, a number of activities within the workstream have been held to encourage greater participation. It remains important to exert considerable influence in how we operate and it is a timely point to engage as workstream partners look towards field application of the tools, guidance and policies.

How can you engage?


[1] The Grand Bargain Annual Report 2019, ODI June 2019



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