Emergency needs assessments

When Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies help people affected by disasters or crises, they start by conducting emergency needs assessments. These assessments help them understand the extent and impact of the damage a disaster or crisis has caused, as well as the ability of the affected population to meet its immediate survival needs.

Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies are well-placed to assess the needs of people affected by disasters or crises due to their permanent and widespread presence within communities, even in hard-to-reach areas.

The impacts of disasters or crises vary from one to another, but affected people typically need the following types of support in the immediate aftermath: food, safe drinking water, shelter, essential items (such as blankets, heaters and water containers), medical care, sanitation and waste disposal, psychosocial support and protection.

Emergency needs assessments help National Societies and the IFRC define potential response options, evaluate the priority needs of affected communities, and determine whether support is required from our global disaster response system. 

They are vital for ensuring our network makes informed decisions so we can provide effective humanitarian support to people affected by disasters or crises.

Watch: Our approach to emergency needs assessments

Phases of assessment

Initial assessment (within 48 hours)

Rapid assessment (within 7 days)

In-depth assessment (within 40 days)

Resources for National Societies

Jordan Red Crescent volunteers walk through Ajloun in 2013 following a heavy snow storm to conduct needs assessments with local communities and help them navigate the difficult conditions

Jordan Red Crescent volunteers walk through Ajloun in 2013 following a heavy snow storm to conduct needs assessments with local communities and help them navigate the difficult conditions

Photo: IFRC/Ibrahim Malla

The IFRC and our member National Societies have been investing in improved needs assessments for many years. We are working to increase our collective competencies in assessment and planning in emergencies.

If you are from a National Society and would like to access our latest resources and operational guidance on conducting emergency needs assessments, visit Fednet or contact NS.preparedness@ifrc.org

And for details of surge personnel and services we can provide to support emergency needs assessments, including our new assessment cell, visit the IFRC Go website.