Disasters of physical origin, including earthquakes, floods, landslides, tidal waves, tropical storms, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions, have affected millions of people globally over the past 100 years. Proportionately, there is far greater likelihood of being affected by such disasters in low-income countries than in high-income countries. Furthermore, low-income countries are in need of international assistance following disasters more often than high-income countries. The funding of international humanitarian assistance has increased from USD 12.9 billion in 2006 to an estimated USD 16.7 billion in 2010. The majority of this funding is channelled through humanitarian agencies and is supposed to be distributed based on the need of those affected, as assessed using needs assessments. Such needs assessments may be used to inform decisions internally, to influence others, to justify response decisions, and to obtain funding. Little is known about the quality of needs assessments in practical applications. Consequently, this paper reports on and analyses the views of operational decision-makers in major health-related humanitarian agencies on needs assessments.
2014. Vol. 38, no 3, 451-464 p.