|Disaster Assessment (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - United Nations Development Programme , 1994, 54 p.)|
· Assessment is a critical activity and essential component of the disaster preparedness and management continuum. It is through a formal assessment process that information is gathered and provided to the responsible decision-makers. Far too often assessment is an afterthought to the seemingly more urgent aspects of the recovery process, i.e. scheduling and delivering relief supplies. Furthermore, assessment is frequently seen as a one-time activity.
· This module has asserted that assessments must be planned for, systematically implemented and regularly conducted during the recovery process. It is through assessment that decision-makers can identify needs that lead to appropriate types of assistance. As important, assessment indicates what type of assistance is not needed thus decreasing inappropriate assistance. If assessment activities are conducted throughout the recovery process, decision-makers will be aware of emerging and unmet needs as well as mitigation and development opportunities. In addition, assessments can provide feedback on how the recovery is progressing which will allow for correction of programs which may be falling short of their objectives.
· Assessment is most effective when it is pre-designed as part of an overall preparedness plan which is tested and refined. Because the assessment process will differ for different types of hazards, the preparedness plan must take into account the range of possible situations the country might encounter. Information for assessment is best gathered through well designed observation and survey methods. These methods must take into account the ideas of a range of relief actors including disaster survivors. Assessments, therefore, should be coordinated.
· The UN system, as well as NGOs, must stand ready to assist national governments in conducting assessments and analyzing and interpreting the information received. The resident coordinator, representing the UN system, is the focal point for the international community to understand and respond to disaster situations.