Versions Compared


  • This line was added.
  • This line was removed.
  • Formatting was changed.


Assessments enable logisticians to understand the impact of a disaster on the environment and , how the impact affects the population, and how the logistics services are to be provided. The findings from logistics assessments are critical in enabling appropriate decision making, planning and organisation for effective disaster response.

To effectively support a response to the needs in an emergency, it is very important to include a logistics assessment during the general needs assessment exercise. Having a logistics staff on the program needs assessment team ensures that the needs are properly understood by logisticians and therefore adequately provisioned for.


The scope of an emergency assessment will be different depending on the circumstances and may vary from emergency to emergency or depend on the nature or scale of the disaster. This not-with-standing, there is some still plenty of basic information that is important essential to the logistics function. That is, the number of affected population, distribution plans and nature of supplies required. For planning purposes, additional also gather information on using the following would be useful to have:guidance and templates from the following: 

Tools and Templates


  • surveys
  • questionnaires
  • interviews
  • check-lists

Key considerations:

  • numbers of Numbers and figures regarding affected population
  • distribution Distribution plans
  • materials Where to access:
    • Materials required (commodities and supplies)
    • electric power, hydro facilities
    • , water/sewage infrastructure
    • civil aviation, airports, alternative aircraft, seaports, railroads
    • warehousing
  • railroadsAccessibility of:
    • roads and bridges
    • transfer points and land border crossings
  • local trucking capacity
  • transfer points
  • communications
  • coordination capacity
  • warehousing

Planning an Assessment

“A quick response to obviously urgent needs must never be delayed because a comprehensive assessment has not yet been completed” (UNHCR hand book for emergencies). But it is importance to conduct an assessment at the earliest opportunity. The assessment outcomes facilitate planning and create a base for informed decision making. Planning an assessment involves:


Identify information needs and sources

Based on nature of the response intervention:

  • seek reliable sources from a range of stakeholders; including the logistics clusters, if established, Inter-agency groups, other humanitarian entities, etc;
  • verify information from alternatives sources.

Collect data

  • Identify baseline data if available and build on existing collection system.

Analyse and interpret data

  • Evaluate against a baseline
  • cross-check and compare reports from different sources, if possible;
  • update information continuously as needs change; and
  • report conclusions to relevant sectors who draw on the logistics services.

Provide logistics input to design/modification of disaster response

  • Align objectives to program needs;
  • identify and allocate resources; and
  • plan and Develop monitoring and evaluation process.

Diagram 1 - adapted from UNDMTP/Disaster Assessment (1994)] - Revised

Factors to Consider when Initiating an Assessment

  • Analyse existing data. Rapidly collate and analyse already-available information. Anticipate the likely impact of the disaster and determine the areas on which information gathering should focus.
  • Prioritise the areas to be visited. Decide where to go in order to get a valid overview of the situation on the ground as well as details of the likely bottlenecks.


  • Essential considerations for post disaster logistics assessments
  • Sensitivity to local culture and customs.
  • Identify local capacities, including the government.
  • Consider the requirements of all sectors activated and the response of other agencies to avoid duplication.
  • Share information to enable rapid response and effective coordination.
  • Take account of the responsibilities, response and legal requirements of national and local authorities.
  • Use standardised assessment procedures.
  • Identify a way of ensuring that there is a continuous re-assessment to facilitate relevant action for the changing context and needs.
  • Coordinate and work with others. Form multi-disciplinary teams with government and other humanitarian organisations whenever possible. Coordinate efforts to get information from as many localities as possible as quickly as possible. Agree common definitions, methods and data collection formats, if possible, so that information from different teams will be comparable.
  • Define terms of reference and specific information needs. Define the purpose and scope of each assessment mission clearly, and specify appropriate report headings.
  • Avoid duplication. To speed up the assessment, avoid reporting on data or information that is already available.
  • Include a status report on some of the critical factors required to enable a successful response:
    • financial resources available and any restrictions or provisions pegged to it.
    • staffing - both in numbers and skills;
    • ability to collaborate with other stakeholders also conducting assessments; and
    • complexities or challenges arising due to the nature of the emergency whether a slow on-set, quick on-set or complex emergency. This determines speed of response required and therefore the type of assessment or response that will be done.
  • Select sources of information carefully to ensure that they are reliable and up-to-date.
  • Consider the accuracy: the likely margin of error in the data and its significance for the conclusions being drawn or the calculations being made. Specify ranges rather than absolute figures if data is only approximate. Be sure to highlight any information/data that may misrepresent a situation.
  • Be cautious about generalising: the situation and needs may vary considerably over short distances within the affected area and different locations.
  • Minimising bias: be sensitive to possible biases in people’s perceptions and reports (including those of the assessment team). Information for emergency assessments must come from different sources to provide a relatively accurate assessment of the situation.


Planning is largely a decision making process that involves choosing among alternatives. The seven basic steps of planning are:

  • problem Problem identification – Is it flooding, drought, conflict or a complex disaster?
  • data Data or information gathering – community needs, response team needs such as relief items, vehicles, environmental assessment;
  • choosing Choosing among alternative solutions;
  • evaluating the alternatives and deciding;
  • implementing the Implementing the solution;
  • following Following up implementation and taking action where changes are required; and
  • exit Exit strategy.

A planning check-list in an emergency setting could include, setting of objectives, developing policies or adopting existing ones to cover procurement, warehousing, disposal/reverse logistics and also resources required such as vehicles, radios, computers, office space, storage space and staffing, as well as others.


IOM Emergency Operations Manual pg. 5-19


www.logcluster.orgOCHA sponsored Humanitarian News Center


AlertNet- Humanitarian News

The Logistics Cluster