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Compendium on methods and tools to evaluate impacts of, and vulnerability and adaptation to, climate change

Guidelines for Emergency Assessment

These guidelines provide advice on the organization of emergency assessments, starting with an introduction of key concepts and then outlining each step. The steps are roughly laid out in the order required during an assessment. The chapter on fieldwork notes some basic principles that should underlie activities, such as participation, inclusion or marginal groups, looking out for biases, etc. Results of the general assessment can indicate where more technical assessment is needed. The framework can be easily adapted to incorporate climate change issues as it provides fairly general guidelines on the assessment process.

Appropriate Use

Aimed at generalists in the Red Cross Red Crescent community conducting an assessment to provide an overview of the situation. The guidelines cover the following steps, some of which may overlap:

  1. Planning;
  2. Office tasks;
  3. Fieldwork (organization and management);
  4. Analysis;
  5. Reporting.

The chapter on fieldwork includes detailed descriptions of various types of information gathering exercises and issues to consider for each one, including tips on establishing trust, cultural sensitivities, suggested questions, and extensive checklists that were compiled by sector specialists. It gives very clear, easily understandable directions for carrying out activities. The chapter on analysis provides worksheets team members may use to synthesize information. These are largely based on IFRC’s vulnerability and capacity framework (see References).

Scope Local affected areas.
Key Output
  • Planning – Determination of whether an assessment is needed, objectives and terms of reference, and type of assessment (rapid/detailed/continual);
  • Office tasks – Arrangements for coordination, required resources identified, team assembled and briefed, key locations identified;
  • Fieldwork – Sufficient information gathered in selected locations on issues identified during planning phase;
  • Analysis – Identification of the main problems, affected populations, and local capacity; recommendations for further action;
  • Reporting – Clear, concise reports following a recommended format: summary; background information; details and assumptions; needs, coping strategies, and assistance; program proposals.
Key Input

The guidelines recommend that each of these steps are generally undertaken sequentially, so that the output of the planning phase is used as an input to the office-based tasks, and so on.

  • Planning – Information from secondary sources on the nature of the emergency and urgency of an assessment;
  • Office tasks – Objectives and terms of reference; information on potential team members’ skills;
  • Fieldwork – Secondary information, interviews with community members and authorities, group exercises, household visits, etc.;
  • Analysis – Summaries of information that have been checked for consistency, discussion among team members;
  • Reporting – Results of the analysis.
Ease of Use Readily usable by anyone conducting an assessment.
Training Required None
Training Available Contact regional and country offices:
Computer Requirements None, although word processing and spreadsheets may be useful for analysis and reporting.
Documentation IFRC. 2005. Guidelines for Emergency Assessment. Geneva: International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Based on IFRC’s experience in conducting assessments following disasters around the world.

Contacts for Framework, Documentation, Technical Assistance

International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies

PO Box 372, CH-1211, Geneva 19, Switzerland; Tel: +41.22.730.4222; Fax: +41.22.733.0395; e-mail:; website:

Cost Free

IFRC. 1999. Code of conduct for the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and Non-Governmental Organizations in Disaster Relief. Geneva: International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,

IFRC. 1999. Vulnerability and capacity assessment: an International Federation guide. Geneva:International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies,

IFRC. 2000. Better Programming Initiative: options for better aid programming in post-conflict settings. Geneva: International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Sphere Project. 2003. Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Disaster Response. Geneva: Sphere Project,