The assessment of needs that will arise from immediate and
consequential losses will help to prioritize the rehabilitation and
reconstruction actions. Initial assessment of a disaster naturally focuses on
emergency needs, however, the losses that occur in each sector correspond to a
wide range of needs to be met by the local communities, various ministries,
local authority departments, NGOs and sometimes international donors and
agencies. From the start of the emergency onwards, each of these groups will be
making jointly, or separately, some assessment of the situation initially for
relief response and eventually for rehabilitation and reconstruction decisions.
Conflict of opinions and difference of perceptions on what is needed in what
priority will be all too common.
Creating a clear picture of the situation for
decision-making involves collecting reliable information on each sector by
Creating a clear picture of the situation for decision making
involves collecting reliable information on each sector by experienced staff. It
also requires consultation with the affected communities and their leaders in
order to establish their perceptions and priorities. A comprehensive analysis of
data collection and assessment processes are in the module, Disaster
Assessment, in this series. The critical issues which relate to
rehabilitation and reconstruction can be summarized as follows:
Monitor the situation
in order to make decisions for the long-term inputs which may sometimes be based
on early, fragmentary assessment of the situation. Continuous monitoring of the
changes as the situation develops is essential in order to revise the decisions.
For example shelter needs may increase due to aftershocks, the long stay of
flood water on the ground or by climatic changes such as the onset of monsoon
rains. Equally, availability of building stock and migration to other areas can
reduce this need.
Balance psychological, social and
economic needs with physical ones. High physical damage may distort the
focus of attention to the neglect of other less tangible
Recognize that communities
are not homogenous. Some groups such as the politically well-connected or
the economically better off can be more vocal in voicing their needs. Additional
assessment may be necessary to cover the specific needs of the disadvantaged
groups: the elderly, children, single headed families, physical or mentally
handicapped, the very poor, minorities etc. Generalized response targeting the
average surviving family may leave out those most in need of support.
Consider the less obvious needs.
They may be essential in meeting the high investment inputs. For example,
supporting administration, creating work for the disaster victims can speed up
Distinguish needs from wants.
Disasters can increase expectations at all levels: communities from the
authorities, local government from the central government, national governments
from the international donors. Rank the needs and prioritize the necessary
inputs to improve the conditions for the worst affected and the least able
groups Identify the capacities and resources of the affected population.
Do not assume that they are passive victims and aim to strengthen what is
available for increased self reliance. This also applies to the strengthening of
the local authorities and the national bodies.
Identify the un-met needs at each
stage of decision making. As the situation develops conditions, problems and
availability of resources change.
Ensure that the needs in all sectors
and affected areas are assessed. There is often a tendency to focus on the
worst affected areas, the most tangible or easily quantifiable damage. Equally,
the make up of the assessment team or the bias of an agency can create a
distorted picture of needs by highlighting the selected sectors where they have
Identify the critical needs upon which
other sectors may depend for recovery. Business and industry cannot function
without communication, transport and energy facilities; provision of health
facilities will be meaningless without available staff, medicine and equipment;
physical reconstruction requires production of construction materials; rural
areas depend on market centers and vice versa.
Ensure that the assessment also covers
what is not needed. Provisions that are not needed or are
inappropriate can have an adverse effect on the recovery process. It is
therefore essential that the assessment highlights what is locally available or
manageable and hence should not be provided, as well as stating what will not be
socially economically, or culturally