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
Increase collaborative humanitarian multi-year planning and funding
Reduce the earmarking of donor contributions
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: Agnes Dhur and Gerard Van Driessche 

Main progress in the last 2 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 to date, work has primarily been conceptual in nature, it is envisaged that this work will be more field focused in the latter half of 2018.

Technical improvements

Analysis results are often a list of sectoral needs with no clear linkages between them. The extent of overlaps for the same people and/or the same geographic areas, and the interlinkages between needs, with some compounding or compensating each other, are not described. This limits the possibility to identify the scope for multi-sectoral and holistic responses.  To support the objective of common understanding of needs that is people-centered, multi-sectoral and the causal factors, a joint inter-sectoral analysis framework is being developed by the Joint Inter-Sectoral Analysis Group (JIAG) and Global Cluster Coordinator Group (GCCG).    While the inter-sectoral analysis model and approach are being developed with the JIAG, OCHA led collaborative inter-agency efforts to assess needs during sudden-onset emergencies in 2017.

Partners were invited to contribute with data and information to produce a secondary data analysis in support to field teams during the response to hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean. Some 28 organizations including from the UN, Red Cross, regional disaster response agencies, NGOs and volunteer networks collaborated remotely to develop an initial understanding of the humanitarian situation[1] and consolidate response data. The outputs fed directly into the Caribbean Region and Dominica Flash Appeals.

Given the Libya’s limited field capacity, OCHA also convened JIAG partners[2] to provide remote and in-country support for inter-sectoral analysis for the Humanitarian Needs Overview in Libya, and were mobilized to share data and help with the analysis of available information to support field teams in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In both Libya and DRC, the collaboration enabled to center the analysis around specific groups of people and specific crisis drivers, rather than along sectoral needs.

The evidence base to inform our analysis requires an ability to compile and process data and information.  The Data Entry and Exploration Platform (DEEP) is an open-source initiative offering a structured way to do so for use in humanitarian needs analysis, while encouraging collaboration and transparency.

Enhanced coordination and collaboration between humanitarian and development actors has been a longstanding aspiration. As part of the Grand Bargain, efforts are underway to map existing data sources and approaches to needs assessments and analysis within the humanitarian and development sectors to identify linkages through which mutually supportive relationships can be established.   The objective is a joint analysis of the consequences of shocks and stresses and how to reduce needs and risks, enabling us to identify and address immediate lifesaving needs as well as understanding chronic problems, in order to take decisions on addressing both.  Development data, for example, can provide a baseline and projection ultimately towards sustainable development goals, while rapid humanitarian assessments can provide vital timely data in a new or escalating emergency that inform ongoing or planned development interventions.

The data and information collected with the aim of informing a response, is not always fully utilized.  Instead, there is a disconnect between the information required by decision-makers and that which is being collected.   This project aims to develop and pilot a common practical working for enhancing usability and usefulness of data and analysis through joint engagement of data users and producers, and a better connection between data providers and those who utilize the data to make decisions.

Institutional improvements

Much of the work of the GBNA is focused on the development of norms, standards, tools and guidance. At its most basic level, collaboration requires agreement on fundamental principles and trust.  Work on the Coordinated Needs Assessment Commitments:  Principles to Govern Collaborative Needs Assessments aims to outline a set of globally agreed core values and explicit guidelines which define a common ethos at the institutional, as opposed to individual, level, and principals by which we engage with those we seek to assist as well as each other. This initiative is being led by UNHCR and IOM.

Confidence in the data, information and needs analysis can be further supported through the development of a set of quality standards and evaluation criteria for needs assessments and analysis establishing minimum requirements, and critical processes and elements that can be used as a reference and applied by any organization.  This work is being led by ECHO.

Finally, The GBNA Commitments are ambitious, and achievement will require capacity in the form of sufficiently skilled and knowledgeable staff.  Through the Humanitarian Analysis Programme (HAP), ACAPS and JIPS have convened an inter-agency Steering Group to develop a programme to build advanced analytical skills.  Recognizing that one-off training result in limited retention of information, the HAP is a six-month programme including elements of practical application and mentorship.

Why should you engage?

A number of discussions have taken place on the Grand Bargain Commitments on Needs Assessments 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.

A Theory of Change was developed and is undergoing another revision to incorporate the views of NGOs and to define the GBNA Commitments in a manner that increases their relevance and appropriateness.

A number of activities within the workstream offer the opportunity 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 Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), WorldPop, the Global Education Cluster, the Global food security Cluster, IOM, UNOSAT, UNHCR, and WFP shared their data and helped with the analysis of available information to assist field teams.

[2] These include REACH, IOM, Mapaction, JIPS, UNFPA, WFP, UNHCR, FAO, UNDP, UNICEF, UNMAS, WHO, WorldPop and Mercy Corps



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