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Assessment & Analysis Cell


Building on lessons from the past few years in sudden-onset emergency response, a new concept for coordination of needs assessments and analysis has been developed. The concept is simple and can be adapted to any situation. It brings together partners with complementary expertise and capacities in remote sensing, secondary data collation, primary data collection, GIS, and humanitarian needs analysis to agree on a common strategy and effective collaboration to provide timely analysis support to decision makers during the first phase of a sudden onset response. The core A&A Cell partners are ACAPS, ERCC/Joint Research Centre, IFRC, MapAction, OCHA/UNDAC, IMPACT/REACH and UNOSAT. Local or specialised partners may contribute depending on the emergency. 

When a disaster strikes, OCHA will activate the network to initiate cooperation. Partners quickly agree on initial priorities and immediately start working remotely, using commonly accessible tools for online collaboration, to produce analytical outputs like initial briefing notes, impact estimations and maps. If a field component is needed, OCHA/UNDAC and the operational partners can deploy experts to establish a physical A&A Cell under the umbrella of an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC)/OnSite Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) in support of the Government and the Humanitarian Country Team. The remote component will remain operational as part of the cell and support with data collation, interpretation, scientific advice, and data processing. 

By using a network approach for collaboration, the A&A Cell leverages the joint capacities of OCHA and operational partners to produce timely, user-friendly humanitarian needs analyses to inform strategic and operational decision-making in sudden onset disasters.

Once established, whether remotely, in the field, or both, the A&A Cell aims to:

  • Develop a shared understanding of the humanitarian situation, in particular current and forecasted humanitarian needs, priority areas, groups and sectors, and gaps.
  • Support EOC/OSOCC management, affected Governments and Humanitarian Country Teams as required in developing an operational picture of the humanitarian situation and inform multi sectoral strategic decision making.
  • Help coordinate ongoing assessments and facilitate joint analysis among humanitarian partners, e.g., Government, agencies, clusters, NGOs, etc.

The field component of the A&A Cell will determine information needs on the ground, facilitate and support the design, planning and coordination of needs assessments, chair Assessment Working Groups, establish assessment registries, stimulate shared analysis, and manage information about planned and ongoing assessments to harmonize efforts and avoiding assessment fatigue.

The work of the A&A Cell also aims to bridge the ongoing relief operation with early recovery. The initial needs analysis will should help inform post-distribution monitoring efforts to ensure that assessment data stays updated in real time. 

The A&A Cell concept is managed by the Assessment, Planning and Monitoring Branch (APMB) and the Response Support Branch (RSB), UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Geneva. For more details please consult the UNDAC Handbook 2018.