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close this bookCounting and Identification of Beneficiary Populations in Emergency Operations (ODI, 1997, 110 p.)
close this folder1. Introduction
View the document1.1 Objectives
View the document1.2 Terminology
View the document1.3 Target audience
View the document1.4 Structure

1.2 Terminology

For the purposes of this Review, the key terms are defined as follows:

i) ‘Counting’ is used to describe the method of obtaining total figures of potential beneficiaries in an emergency operation, in order to plan the global allocation of resources. The terms quantification, enumeration, and quantitative data gathering also refer to numbers rather than qualities;

ii) ‘Identification’ of individuals or groups of concern (e.g. for distribution of assistance) goes beyond just counting or estimating total numbers. It is essentially a matter of ‘knowing‘ which individuals and communities are involved in or affected by the crisis. This is obviously important in the assessment of who should have access to what resources, and/or may require what degree of assistance or, crucially, protection. It is also essential in determining the distribution of assistance and the provision of protection. There are a number of ways of obtaining such information. The method used will depend upon the overall objective - water provision, food distribution, protection, etc. Individuals might be identified for participation in an assistance programme, by, for example, the community itself, without necessarily being formally registered.

iii) The term ‘registration’ describes the activity of expressly collecting and formally recording specific qualitative and/or quantitative information about individuals of concern to emergency operations, sometimes called a ‘head count’ or ‘person to person’ exercise. Certain needs, such as protection or the conferring of refugee status may demand full registration of individuals. Registration may, or may not, however, be an appropriate means of obtaining other types of information described in i) and ii) above (counting and identification).

iv) The term ‘beneficiary’ is used to describe those affected by a crisis, and in need of assistance. It is recognised that the term is somewhat wanting, in that it implies a passivity that is by no means intended. So-called beneficiaries are generally - and should be - active participants in determining their own fates. More than just ‘beneficiaries’, they should be seen as actors, partners, and even directors of international relief operations. The term beneficiary is used in this Review, however, simply because it is the term used most commonly in literature on this subject. The recommendations given in this Review apply to internally displaced persons (IDP’s), refugees and victims of ‘natural disasters’3.

v) ‘Emergency assistance operations’: for the purposes of this Review, the use of the term emergency is taken to mean any life-threatening situation in which the means, resources and capacities immediately available are overwhelmed by the critical needs of any individual or group of people. It is thus a relative term, and can cover emergencies in which as few as tens of people are under threat, but the situation is well beyond the means available. It also covers ‘mega-emergencies’ in which hundreds of thousands, even millions of people have critical needs that cannot be met by the resources immediately available. The threat to life can be measured by morbidity and mortality rates.4 While all humanitarian assistance is by no means delivered through international aid programmes, this Review deals principally with such large-scale international operations.