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Multisectoral needs assessments

Last edited: July 03, 2013

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  • Multi-sectoral needs assessments–sometimes referred to as rapid assessments since they are typically conducted in a few days–seek to determine: the nature and scale of a crisis and the needs of a given population; whether a particular organization should intervene and that organization’s added value; and the scope and scale of an effective intervention, given existing resources (IRC, 2012). Different tools and approaches can be used to assess these needs in conflict/post-conflict settings. Typically, a team of humanitarian staff with different expertise will lead a multi-sectoral assessment when responding to an emergency to gather information on:
    • Water and Sanitation
    • Security
    • General Protection
    • Child Protection
    • Population Movements
    • Sexual Violence
    • Health/Reproductive health
    • Humanitarian Access
  • In the early stages of an emergency, there may not yet be VAWG technical staff deployed who can participate in an initial multi-sectoral assessment.  In this case, other staff members should collect basic information related to VAWG in a safe and ethical manner to inform future interventions.  In the absence of VAWG technical staff, multi-sectoral needs assessments often suffer from a dearth of concrete data regarding VAWG, in which case it is very important to undertake a specific VAWG rapid assessment as soon as possible (IRC, 2012). 

Important points regarding GBV in multi-sectoral assessments:

1) A lack of concrete data regarding GBV, and particularly sexual violence, is to be expected in an initial multi-sectoral assessment. Regardless of the culture, religion, or geographic region, sexual violence is significantly underreported and is rarely discussed openly. Rapid multi-sectoral assessments usually cannot – and should not strive to – accurately reflect the scale and nature of sexual violence in an emergency. What they can do is highlight broader safety concerns and help identify situations where additional GBV expertise, resources and possibly a GBV-specific assessment may be needed.

2) It is possible that the population will not be familiar with the vocabulary around gender-based violence. If there is little knowledge of GBV or if the subject is socially taboo, an untrained assessor may unintentionally cause harm to survivors within a community or create a situation that jeopardizes future opportunities to gain meaningful information on GBV in a given context.

3) Even if the multi-sectoral assessment team does not include a GBV specialist, it is crucial that all assessors understand the ethical and safety concerns surrounding GBV data collection. The assessment team should also consult with GBV actors – even if this needs to be done remotely—when it comes time to analyse the data collected during the multi-sectoral assessment in order to ensure that it can inform future interventions. 


(Source: ER&P Participant Handbook, p. 32).



See provisional guidance on the IASC’s Multi-Cluster/Sector Initial Rapid Assessment, or  MIRA.