Assessing Communication and Information Needs in an Emergency: ACAPS and CDAC Network Collaborate on New Guidance

Source: Tue, 22 Jul 2014 09:47 AM
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CDAC Network Members have been working in collaboration with needs assessment specialists ACAPS to develop guidelines on incorporating questions on communication and information needs in humanitarian needs assessments.

This guidance is being made available on the new CDAC Network website today, and Patrice Chataigner, Head of Analysis at ACAPS, has written a short blog to introduce it.

Since 2010, ACAPS (The Assessment Capacities Project) has been supporting the implementation of coordinated needs assessments in humanitarian crises, bringing agencies together to carry out multi-cluster and multi stakeholder assessments. Over the last five years, considerable efforts have been made to improve practice and provide better guidance in carrying out more effective and faster needs assessments. Increasingly, cross-cutting issues such as communicating with disaster affected people are being included in questionnaires or secondary data reviews, and are identified as something humanitarian agencies urgently need information about in the early stage of a crisis.

As the experience of CDAC Network Members shows, understanding the way disaster-affected communities give, receive, share and trust information is critical to designing an appropriate humanitarian response. This guidance builds on the work of the infoasaid project and CDAC Network Members, who successfully advocated to get two questions included in the MIRA (Multi Cluster/Sector Rapid Assessment). More recently the new guidance developed by the CDAC Network and ACAPS has supported questions on communication and information needs being systematically included in other standard rapid assessment initiatives, such as the KIRA – the Kenya Inter-agency Rapid Assessment Tool – and the Joint Needs Assessment Tool in Bangladesh. Translators without Borders was one of the CDAC Network Members involved in using the guidance to successfully lobby for questions on communication and information to be included in the KIRA, and have blogged about this experience.

Before launching this new guidance, CDAC Network Members and ACAPS have been testing the questions in the field – most recently in Syria. The Syria Integrated Needs Assessment in December 2013 incorporated some of the questions, and discovered that 42% of the sub districts interviewed had no, or poor, access to information related to humanitarian activities. This data triggered an increased awareness amongst operating agencies about the importance of communication and information provision. It persuaded agencies to pay more attention to communication with local committees and the affected population, in an attempt to ensure communities are aware of existing support mechanisms and delivery channels, thus increasing the population’s access to humanitarian assistance. Methodologies for future assessments were also revised to include more questions on communicating with affected communities, as the importance of having this data for an effective response was realised.

Click here to access the new ‘Quick and Easy Guide to Assessing Information and Communication Needs in Humanitarian Response’.

Here you will also find a suite of ‘Common Communication Needs Assessment Tools’ developed by the Media Development Agencies of the CDAC Network. This suite includes more in depth questionnaires on communication channels and information sources, as well as tools to determine media station damage.

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The CDAC Network is a growing platform of more than 30 humanitarian, media development, social innovation, technology, and telecommunication organisations, dedicated to saving lives and making aid more effective through communication, information exchange and community engagement.

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