Rapid Needs Assessment



A rapid assessment is conducted immediately after the onset of a disaster in order to locally assess the disaster-affected areas and the needs of disaster victims.

I. Why conduct RNA?

  • To assess the needs of the affected population, and design a prioritized plan of action based on those needs for effective response.
  • Without a rapid assessment, significant gaps or overlaps in assistance may occur, which not only wastes precious resources at a time of great need, but can also be a cause of further burden to the affected population.
  • The purpose of this assessment is not to conduct a detailed survey, but to perform a broad assessment of the disaster and basic needs of the population in order to identify priorities for assistance.

II.  When to conduct RNA?

The initial rapid assessment is conducted as early as a few hours after the onset of a disaster, and should be completed within 3 days at the latest.

III. How to conduct RNA?

  • Staff should be local, expert and have full understanding of the RNA process
  • Collect information from as many sources as possible – people, media, government, Web, Social Media, Maps, local representatives, hospitals, aerial survey etc.
  • Perform direct observation in order to verify the data.
  • Due to time, resource, and/or security constraints, one is often forced to rely on reports from different sources. However, when one relies too much on secondary information, significant gaps can be missed.
  • It is important to involve the affected population and use participatory approach in RNA
  • Collaborate with other relief teams in order to avoid repetitive or redundant activities.
  • The data obtained from the affected areas should be recorded along with the source and contact information, and its contents should be cross-checked as much as possible.
  • Conduct key-informant interviews
  • Assess overall condition through observation
  • Triangulate collected information
  • List of recommendations and priorities for disaster relief.

IV. Which Information to collect?

Collect Information related to

  • Access and security – How are the communication networks of the area? How safe the area is from secondary disasters e.g. fires, chemical spills etc.
  • Population affected – Number of affected, gender ratio, age, vulnerable groups, total population, displaced etc.
  • Community resources – Infrastructure affected (Hospitals, Schools, drainage system, skilled persons availability, Disaster plans, evacuation plans/centers available/how much effective, Early warning system available/affected, means of communication etc.
  • Health – Medical facilities, health infrastructure, diseases, pregnant women/child health
  • Water – Sanitation system, water storage facilities, water testing & distribution systems,
  • Food and non-food items – Food supply available, cooking facility, equipment, fuel etc.
  • Shelters – how much required, capacity in the area? How fast can it become available?

V. Limitations and Drawbacks of RNA

  • Because speed is a priority, the accuracy of the data may be compromised
  • Not in depth, for complete information detailed study must be done.