European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations

Service tools

Assessing needs, vulnerability and risk

© European Union/ECHO/Mathias Eick

Why is this important?

In accordance with the humanitarian principles, established by the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, the EU seeks to address the needs of the most vulnerable people facing a humanitarian crisis and disaster. A needs-based approach is therefore necessary to ensure aid is provided in different countries according to their respective needs, independent of any pressure. The approach also guarantees the credibility and transparency of EU humanitarian aid.

How do we ensure a needs-based approach?

The European Commission's Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has developed a two-phase framework for assessing and analysing needs in specific countries and crises. This framework provides the evidence base for prioritisation of needs, funding allocation, and development of humanitarian implementation plans (HIPs).

The first phase is a global evaluation with two dimensions:

  • Index for Risk Management (INFORM) is a tool based on national indicators and data which allows for a comparative analysis of countries to identify their level of risk to humanitarian crisis and disaster. It includes three dimensions of risk: natural and man-made hazards exposure, population vulnerability and national coping capacity. The INFORM data are also used for calculating a Crisis Index that identifies countries suffering from a natural disaster and/or conflict and/or hosting a large number of uprooted people.
  • The Forgotten Crisis Assessment (FCA) identifies serious humanitarian crisis situations where the affected populations do not receive enough international aid or even none at all. These crises are characterised by low media coverage, a lack of donor interest (as measured through aid per capita) and a weak political commitment to solve the crisis, resulting in an insufficient presence of humanitarian actors.

The second phase of the framework focuses on context and response analysis.

  • Integrated Analysis Framework (IAF) is an in-depth assessment carried out by European Commission's humanitarian experts. It consists of a qualitative assessment of humanitarian needs per single crisis, also taking into account the population affected and foreseeable trends.

How do we support an evidence-based decision-making?

The European Commission is committed to improving the capacities, quality and coordination of needs-assessment approaches across the humanitarian sector. It supports:

  • The work of the Inter-agency Standing Committee (IASC) related to assessment and analysis tools and guidance (such as the roll-out of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle).
  • Funding of global needs assessment initiatives under the Enhanced Response Capacity (ERC) mechanism with partner organisations.
  • Promoting efforts aimed at improving coordinated needs assessment methodologies and processes in humanitarian assistance, including through donor platforms, such as the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) initiative.
  • Supporting the global INFORM initiative, and national and regional assessments of the risk of humanitarian crises and disasters that are based on the INFORM methodology and process.
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