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close this bookAn Overview of Disaster Management (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - United Nations Development Programme , 1992, 136 p.)
close this folderChapter 10. Disaster assessment 1
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentObjectives of assessment
View the documentThe assessment process
View the documentAssessments for different disaster types
View the documentHow assessment data is used

Objectives of assessment

The first objective of a post-disaster assessment is to determine when an emergency exists. Next, define the actions and resources needed to reduce immediate threats to health and safety and to pre-empt future serious problems.

A frequent problem of assessment is to assume that all property losses or survival needs must be replaced or furnished from outside sources only. Instead the assessment must also identify the local response capacity, including organizational, medical, and logistical resources. The assessment must help decide how best to use existing resources for relief. It must also identify the priorities of the affected people themselves.

Another problem is that people making the assessment who are not from the disaster area may have a difficult time distinguishing chronic needs from problems created by the disaster. Knowledge of base line data is essential to identify the “starting point” for post-disaster needs. This information is established in the preparedness checklist in Chapter 7.

If the results of the assessment are to contribute to the design of a disaster response program, then the response agency must also know the policies of the government with regard to emergency assistance. These policies will affect the estimate for the additional support required from national and international sources for relief.

Figure 10.1 Evolving objectives of assessment


Warning Phase

Determine extent to which affected populations are taking measures to protect lives and facilities from expected hazard impact

Activate arrangements in the preparedness plan regarding the implementation of assessment

Emergency Phase

Confirm the reported emergency and estimate the overall magnitude of the damage

Identify characterize and quantify “populations at risk” in the disaster

Help to define and prioritize the actions and resources needed to reduce immediate risks

Identify local response capacity including organizational medical and logistic resources

Help anticipate future serious problems

Help manage and control the immediate response

Rehabilitation Phase

Identify the priorities of the affected people

Identify the policies of the government with regard to post-disaster assistance

Estimate the additional support required from national and international sources for relief and recovery

Monitor the outcome and effectiveness of continuing relief and rehabilitation measures

Recovery Phase

Determine the damage to economically significant resources and its implications for development policy

Assess the impact of the disaster on current development programs

Identify new development opportunities created by the disaster