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Give an overview of the Needs Assessment Process and SEAGA tools that can be used for a Participatory and Gender-sensitive Needs Assessment.

See: SEAGA Guiding Principles and SEAGA Tools.
See: WFP Commitments to Women.
See: FAO Technical Handbook Series on Emergency Activities.

Module links: Targeting and Procurement
See: WFP/UNHCR MOU (defining responsibilities and arrangements for cooperation).


Access to resources and inputs, Agricultural and relief needs, Checklists, Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions (CFSAM), Joint Food and Nutrition Assessment Missions (JFNAM), National food balance sheet, Needs assessment, Nutritional gaps.

Overview for Emergency Operations Planning

In the wake of a disaster or emergency, assessment of the most urgent needs of the men, women and children living in the most affected areas takes place. These needs will represent the basis for the design of a relief programme. During this phase the areas of intervention and the beneficiaries are identified. A more specific assessment of individual or group needs of registered beneficiaries is further refined when relief operations take place.

Needs Assessment

Needs assessment is a process of understanding the essential and immediate relief needs, of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged men, women and children, in order to restore their food and livelihood security status following a disaster.

In the reconstruction phase, it is important that project planners properly assess household composition (female-headed or orphan-headed households as a % of total population) and labour availability (family labour shortages due to disability, deaths, and old age).

The integration of gender analysis into every element of the assessment process is essential to understand the specific needs of each population segment. This is necessary to meet overall and specific objectives, such as principled or equitable distribution of aid and ensuring food security and recovery of agricultural production. The analysis of the impact of the crisis on communities begins with an understanding of vulnerability and coping mechanisms.

Female-headed households in rural areas are often the most economically and politically disadvantaged population group. The information on these households should be correlated with welfare indicators (e.g. maternal mortality, fertility, teenage pregnancy rates, literacy levels and employment rates) in order to understand their productive capacity and their capabilities as food securers for their dependents.

Main Aims of Needs Assessments

  • Determine needs, especially of the most marginalized men, women and children, in a disaster-affected society

  • Set priorities for action, focusing first on the needs of the most vulnerable

  • Provide data for programme planning, including data disaggregated by sex and age

  • Determine the anticipated impact, of the programme on the most vulnerable

Vulnerability Factors

Several factors influence a person or household’s food supply/access vulnerability in a crisis-situation:

  • Loss of own food production or stocks

  • More difficult economic access to food due to price increases

  • Loss of income and/or tradable assets

  • Failure of traditional coping and support mechanisms and systems

Assessing Food Assistance Needs

WFP needs assessments are often conducted in cooperation with FAO - Crop and Food Supply Assessment Missions (CFSAM), and UNHCR - Joint Food Needs Assessment Missions (JFNAM).

The focus of FAO/WFP joint assessment missions is to assess the national food supply situation during and after an emergency and to determine the need for international food assistance.

These missions are mounted by GIEWS in FAO and VAM in WFP and are based on indications provided by FAO’s global information and early warning network. Regular missions are launched to the most insecure countries and sub-regions.

Agencies agree on the modalities of the assistance, composition of the food basket, ration size, duration of assistance, and non-food items that may impact the nutritional status of the beneficiaries. As the majority of the refugee population is composed of women and children, special consideration is given to these vulnerable groups.

The approved per capita minimum daily food energy requirement is 2100 Kilocalories. The food and nutrition situation of refugees should be reviewed at least every 12 months.

WFP needs assessments are carried out when urgent information on possible food aid needs is required, in particular when the importance and complexity of the operations exceeds the possibilities of a CFSAM or JFNAM. Very often, WFP assessments are also part of a management review exercise in protracted relief operations, when a better understanding and an improved impact of the WFP operation are required.

WFP intervenes when refugee caseloads exceed 5,000 persons. WFP is responsible to determine whether and how much food assistance is required for all or only part of the refugee population. The food item needs assessed (in terms of specific commodities and quantities) are cereals (in grain or flour form), edible oil and fats, pulses and sources of proteins, blended food (like corn soya blend), salt and sugar, and high-energy biscuits. In the case of whole grain provision, the availability of milling resources or facilities should also be assessed.

The CFSAMs are normally planned to be in country towards the end of the main cropping season, when production can be estimated in a reliable fashion. Accordingly, the food supply and demand situation in the forthcoming marketing year is analysed at national and sub-national levels, with the aim of estimating food deficits and the assistance required for meeting them. These two objectives are approached separately for estimation purposes.

CFSAM Complementary Roles



  • Estimating national and sub-national utilisation levels and capabilities of food supply

  • Logistic support, and estimating the emergency food needs of the vulnerable population

  • Crops and harvest prospects

  • Households’ food access and deficits levels

  • National capacities to fill food supply gaps

  • Role of food assistance and food basket determination

  • Per capita and national consumption of basic food commodities

  • Quantity of food to be supplied at household level, and timing and duration of the assistance

  • Overall food balance sheet

  • Intervention strategy and targeting methods

National Food Balance Sheet Criteria

  • Domestic food production (principal commodities)

  • External commercial trade

  • Opening and closing stocks

  • Imported food assistance requirements

  • Per capita and overall domestic utilisation

  • Scope for triangular transactions and financed local procurement

  • Impact on local food systems and the coping behaviour and status of local institutional resources

  • Ration rates

  • Affected population and the most vulnerable

  • Programme duration

  • Food security of these various groups

  • Logistical aspects

  • Target populations for emergency food assistance

  • Distribution mechanisms

JFNAM Mission Criteria and Activities



  • Socio-economic and nutritional status of beneficiaries

  • Cultural practices and impact on women

  • Overall food availability

  • Nutrition status assessment

  • Refugee registration

  • Selective feeding

  • Food requirement estimation and targeting

  • Leadership

  • Logistics

Food commodities:

Food commodities:

  • Market conditions in host region and possible interactions

  • Prospects for self-reliance

  • Food security of local population

  • Availability of cooking fuel and impact of using the cooking fuels

  • Local fresh food

  • Spices

  • Tea

  • Dried/therapeutic milk.

  • Cereals

  • Edible oil and fats

  • Pulses and sources of proteins

  • Blended foods (like Corn Soya Blend)

  • Salt and sugar

  • High-energy biscuits

Assessing Food Security Needs at Household Level

Statistical data collected at national and sub-national levels, from official aid agency sources and VAM systems, in many cases need to be integrated with qualitative data in order to gather gender-differentiated information. This is required to tailor the emergency intervention to the specific needs of men and women.

In general terms, emergency assistance is designed to cover the gap between minimum household-consumption requirements and resources available to affected household during a crisis.

Linkages between Household Food Security Factors and Nutrition

Intra Household Factors

The minimum food needs are those which can be neither produced, nor acquired by other means of income, food reserves, remittances or collection of wild foods. Needs can also be limited in time, requiring coverage of the deficit until a minimum quantity can again be realized. The need to sell significant amounts of food produced in order to meet other essential expenses, such as medicine, schooling, fuel, wood, and soap, should also be considered.

Assessment of Nutritional Gaps

This type of assessment can be divided into two related categories:

a) Wasting is the principle type of growth failure associated with acute protein energy malnutrition among children and immediate causes of malnutrition. Severely malnourished children are easily identified. Mild and moderate malnutrition is more difficult to detect by visual observation. Cultural practices may favour one group over others. While nutrition assessments are targeting children, vulnerable adults such as the elderly are often left out and these may be a very vulnerable and affected group.

b) Causal factors are more complex. Assessment requires an understanding of the interplay and inter-relationships of food access caring practices, health services and the environment. Armed conflict and displacement have profound effects on these factors. A gender perspective in the assessment process will help determine the causes and factors affecting all levels and sections of the community and household.

Assessment of Agricultural Relief Needs

Assessment missions are concerned with factors affecting agriculture activities over the season following the disaster, or on a continuing basis in protracted relief and recovery situations.

Priority types of assistance required to eliminate important constraints to production resulting from the disaster for each affected group, number of target beneficiary households; and the amount of each type of assistance required per group are profiled.

Gender-related Issues at Field, Intermediate and Macro Levels

Emergency interventions for distribution of basic inputs should be designed based on an analysis of agricultural production systems applying a gender perspective. There is scope to strengthen the participation of men and women in carrying out diagnoses of emergency interventions and to make communities aware of the role of women in farm production units. This will contribute to furthering widespread recognition of women’s contribution to the rural economy, and encourage attitude changes amongst both men and women.

In formulating priority types of assistance, an essential rule is to carefully compare the identified needs with the type of commodities to be provided, and the possibility of funding (locally and internationally). Resources are not always available to meet the needs of all those affected. Proper prioritisation, based on the results of the PRA process, is needed to concentrate on the means of production necessary and sufficient for short-term recovery of livelihoods and food production of the most needy population.

Emergency interventions for distribution of basic inputs should be designed in a participatory way based on an analysis of agricultural production systems, with a gender perspective. For this, it is necessary to strengthen the participation of men and women in assessments, raising awareness of women’s roles in farming. The participatory tools indicated above will help emergency operators in understanding the dynamics of divisions of work, access/use/control of resources, and decision-making.

When calculating needs for inputs and means of production (e.g. through crop/farm models), labour requirements against availability of labour are normally considered. The gender analysis takes into account the fact that the availability of labour is different for female and male-headed land and animal holdings. The holding size for which requirements are to be evaluated, is frequently different for each. Time and energy-saving technologies should be specifically considered and designed for women who carry the burden of major workloads.

The quantification of female-headed households and farming/livelihood systems will provide the needed information base to yield a gender diversified need assessment process with proper analysis of impact differences on men and women. This should be conducted through general data collection at central level and from PRA field analysis.

Access to Services

When crises occur, women very often assist with or totally take over activities normally performed by men. For proper operations design, women’s access to services such as credit, extension, training, supply sources, transport and mobility should be understood, as in many cases these may have been targeted at men.

Access to land is not only a legal matter or a customary issue, but also a question of power. Inputs distributed in emergency interventions might in some cases negatively affect women’s control of crop production and land cultivation, as men might be attracted by the increased revenues and decide to replace women in taking responsibility for the introduced activity.


Seeds are the most frequently needed form of emergency assistance inputs for crop production. The timing of food aid in case of extreme food insecurity is a determining factor in people’s ability to retain seed for the following cropping season.

Seed Security

‘Seed Security’: The sustained ability of all farmers to have sufficient quantities of the desired types of seed at the right time’. It has two aspects: the availability of and the access to quality seed. It does not only refer to the quantities and qualities of seed, but also to the timing (i.e. availability of seed at the time of planting), the finance (ability to have or purchase), and equity (access to available seed for all farmers in the community).

  • Seed security has to be addressed at different levels: household, community and national

  • The best general approach to increase seed security is to strengthen the local seed system

  • General poverty alleviation and consistent seed security policies are also necessary

  • Rice, wheat and barley are self-fertilising crops and farmers can relatively easily produce and store good-quality seed

The different expertise and knowledge of men and women of the local environment should be considered during needs assessments. Men have often been exposed longer to improved production technologies, and their holdings are often larger and focus more on cash crops and large animals. Women are in many cases more knowledgeable about traditional techniques of production. Rural women are largely responsible for seed and planting material selection, improvement and adaptation of staple food-plant varieties. When seed sources are compromised by a disaster, women can often identify adapted varieties and ensure the means to restore production.

Relief Seed Programmes

Diagnosing and planning emergency seed provision is complex, not the least because of the need for acting fast.

  • Timing

Seed relief is rarely appropriate or feasible while an emergency is in an acute phase. The provision of food aid may be more useful so that families are not forced to eat their hoarded seed.

  • Appropriateness

Where seed relief is appropriate, the aim should be to distribute seed that is as close as possible to that which the community was using before the emergency: not just seed of the same crops but also of the same varieties.

  • Rationale

The underling rationale for seed relief is that it helps to re-establish a ‘self help’ mode within communities affected by emergencies. Once families have seed and basic tools, their dependence on external sources for their livelihoods is reduced. In most circumstances, seed relief should be a short-term intervention.

  • Relevance

It is a waste of resources committing seed relief unless there is a clear indication that a lack of seed is the key factor preventing families from returning to ‘self-help’ mode.

  • Perspective

From past experiences, even after severe droughts or armed conflicts, seed is often still available within communities (from secret stores, or via traditional supply lines). Other items, such as drugs, tools and building materials may be in much greater demand.

  • Responsiveness

Repeated distributions of relief seed after the first few post-emergency seasons are not appropriate as it interferes with restoring the local economy and re-establishing local seed supply.

  • Impact

The free distribution of seed in such a situation may be very damaging to the restoration of the local seed system and the use of genetically adapted material.

While seed distribution emergency relief programmes have helped farmers, they have often not been able to restore the adapted crop diversity lost with the disaster. In some cases new untested varieties have been introduced, bringing new diseases, pests and reduced yields. More importantly, untested material can pollute germplasm of the local varieties, thereby accelerating genetic erosion.

Seed Selection Characteristics

  • Resistance to pest and diseases

  • Nutritional attributes

  • Soil and agro-climatic adaptability

  • Taste and cooking qualities

  • Processing properties

  • Storage properties

Seed and planting material requirements can be analyzed through participatory techniques. Examples include crop types, varieties, rates and plant population densities, cultivable area, amount per household, and sowing and planting times. In crises, the inclusion of seed protection (food) rations to last during the cultivation period until harvesting time should also be considered.

The repeated local production and saving of seeds by farmers can change the genetic composition of the variety. Quality Declared seed can lose its characteristics after three to five years (e.g. wheat). When this change is negative, it is called ‘degeneration’. This can be managed through improving degenerated varieties or preventing varieties from degenerating.

Variety Maintenance and Improvement Objectives

  • Improve seed vigour by selecting well-developed plants and plump seeds only (physiological and analytical quality).

  • Reduce disease incidence by discarding obviously diseased plants or seeds (sanitary quality).

  • Maintain the genetic quality of the variety, adapt the variety to changing growing conditions, and obtain better varieties.

Variety maintenance and improvement have different objectives but are closely related and involve similar activities. In certain situations, these are based on the selection of seed from plants with particular defined, desired characteristics - eliminating the less desirable ones (positive and negative selection).

When a farmer is not using his or her own seed, there are different sources from which to obtain seed. The reasons for using seed from other sources depend on quality and price.

Seed Sources

  • Seed from a relative, friend and neighbour can be a good option because the variety and quality are known, because the farmer has seen the crop in the field during the previous season.

  • Seed from the market or from an intermediary can be risky. Seed from these sources is often grain produced for consumption, sometimes with some selection for size and uniformity. This is often the last option to obtain planting material.

  • National seed programmes may be good sources of seed of new varieties. They usually provide certified (or quality declared) seed of recommended varieties. Farmers are quite capable of producing seed themselves. Once they have the variety, they can save their own seed.

  • Commercial enterprises tend to have to make profits. They will concentrate on selling seeds and crops of varieties that need regular purchases from farmers. Thus, they tend to prefer to specialise in hybrids and crops with seeds that are difficult to produce locally.

Seed Demand

  • The farmer was not able to save seed, (e.g. last years harvest was too small and the grain was eaten, insects or moulds attacked the stored seed, or all the harvest had to be sold to meet sudden expenses).

  • To replace the farmers’ own diseased or ‘degenerated’ seed (Two different types of seed degeneration can be distinguished: genetic degeneration and a gradual reduction of the sanitary quality, commonly due to a build-up of virus in the seed).

  • To get seed of a new variety.

  • Unfavorable production conditions.

  • The storage period from one harvest until the next planting was too long for seed quality to be maintained.

  • The specialisation required by the farmers for seed production does not fit the level of mechanisation and productivity of the farm.

There are two major aspects to ‘seed’ from a farmer’s point of view: quality and availability (sources and seed security). Strategies to assist seed systems have to consider both these aspects.

Small-scale farmers usually prefer to use their own seed. It is the cheapest, most readily available, and of a variety that the farmer is familiar with. The farmer knows the seed quality, and the seed is available at planting time.

A number of factors determine the demand for seed by a household, a community or a village. The fluctuation of the demand from season to season usually follows a pattern determined by the incidence of pests and diseases and the general yield level in the region. There are different reasons, however, why a farmer may be using seed from other sources.


The objective for including agro-chemicals, particularly fertilisers, in relief packages is to promote a rapid return to agriculture productivity and food security, at least to pre-disaster levels, by boosting crop yields.

While seed is generally freely provided, agro-chemicals may be distributed on a sale basis to affected farmers. Funds generated are generally used to support the purchase of other means to rehabilitate infrastructure, or to create a revolving fund for further procurement.

Special considerations are often necessary for the purchase of agro-chemicals by female-headed households, as this might increase the need for earning cash income "forcing" women to agricultural wage labour. This in turn could further increase the workload of women.

Thus, agro-chemicals should be provided based on specific needs, requests and knowledge of their use by target beneficiaries. Application rates and relevant relief packages should accordingly consider the gender- differentiated holding sizes.

The handling of agro-chemicals is hazardous. As the funding source and procurer of agro-chemicals, FAO assumes various responsibilities (at least the technical-scientific responsibility). Recommendations for the use of agro-chemicals should not be initiated unless precautionary measures and product responsibilities are first established (usually the buyer at the time of purchase). Only those products that are registered in the country should be ordered. Therefore, please contact the national registration authority, normally the national Plant Protection Service.

Procurement has to be combined with the necessary protective clothing for the user. Highly hazardous chemicals should only be applied by highly skilled labour.

Self-reliance and sustainable integrated agricultural production at farm level should be considered in terms of integrated pesticide management (IPM) approaches. Women, due to insufficient exposure to extension and training, are likely to lack knowledge in pesticides use and therefore adequate IPM technical assistance services should be foreseen. In addition, low-cost and adapted means easily available in local markets must be given preference to ensure a sustainable use of pesticides.

The introduction of elements of an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Programme should be considered whenever pesticides are going to be supplied. Short-term consultancies should include in their terms of reference the identification of proposals for future IPM activities.

Agro-Chemicals Criteria

  • Field

Pests, Crops, Stage of plant development, Area to be treated in hectares.

  • Product requested

Active ingredient, common name, Reg No., and alternative products which also meet the specifications.

  • Formulation

%, g/l, g/kg, EC, WP, DP, GR, UL, etc. Ref: GCPF International Coding System for Product and Formulation Types.

  • Quantity

Density, Mass, Volume, Pieces, Consignment divisions.

  • Toxicity

Ref: WHO Recommended Classification of Pesticides by Hazard.

  • Application

Dose (l/ha, kg/ha), technique and dates. To reflect the application technique to ensure that the products are used accordingly.

  • Packaging

Container/package size. The pesticides ordered should be delivered in their final-use container-size, i.e. the size of the container has to be specified according to the use conditions.

  • Shipment

Transport (sea, air or land). Ref: International Dangerous Goods Regulations.

  • Protection

Available protective clothing as well as any protection needed.

  • Labeling

Ref: FAO Code of Conduct, Article 10. The label is the most important and only source of information on the judicious use of the pesticide. Sometimes more than one language has to be used.

  • Receiver

Address of responsible person/institution.

  • Proposals

Future plant protection measures.

Farming Tools

These tools (and implements) are essential means of production and usually last only two seasons. Disaster affected communities often loose their tools and implements, or sell them as a coping measure to purchase food. Frequently they have no cash to purchase new ones. These items thus form part of relief packages.

Although there are significant geographical differences in the levels and types of production implements, the hand-hoe is generally the most widely used. Several gender-related ergonomic differences should be considered when selecting hand-hoes (e.g., length of handle, blade’s width and weight and the method of fixing the blade to the handle). In order to manufacture implements tailored to women’s physical characteristics, all relevant information should be collected. Consultations between blacksmiths and female farmers should also be envisaged to ensure the production of suitable tools.

The introduction of improved technologies (such as new implements, animal-traction or mechanisation) is usually not foreseen in relief operations, as this would require heavy inputs of training and technical assistance. Technologies such as mechanisation often displace women’s wage-earning opportunities. Adapted and acceptable technologies that reduce women’s workload could be introduced in emergency interventions and specific situations.

Effects of Mechanization on Women[16]

In the Philippines a small de-hulling machine was designed because de-hulling was the most time-consuming and laborious activity of women’s post-harvest duties. The machine reduced women’s work time allowing them to carry out in a few minutes what would take several hours to do by hand.

Hand Implements and Blacksmith Tools Situation Assessment Criteria

  • Regional, National and Provincial

  • Types of hand implements

  • Uses of hand implements

  • Replacement periods

  • Main population clusters

  • Levels of specialisation

  • Service areas and ratios

  • Food production activities

  • Implement multifunction uses

  • Distribution linkages

  • Production assistance history

  • Fuels

  • Workshops

  • Rural blacksmiths

  • Growth Centers

  • Water pump equipment

  • Hand tools production

  • Local designs

  • Tin-smithing

  • Blacksmith tools raw materials

  • Large scale manufacturers

  • Regional suppliers

  • Government policy

  • Raw materials costs

  • County and district

  • Types of blacksmith tools

  • Uses of blacksmith tools

  • Seasonal availability

  • Production locations

  • Production rates

  • Agricultural zones

  • Gender roles

  • Periods of usage

  • Conflict boundaries

  • Supply assistance history

  • Site characteristics

  • Master blacksmiths

  • Apprentices

  • Partnership services

  • Food processing equipment

  • Blacksmith tools production

  • External designs

  • Repairs and maintenance

  • Implements raw materials

  • Humanitarian agencies

  • International suppliers

  • G.I.S. services

  • Itemised production costs

Specialised Knowledge Required to Support Local Hand Tool Production

  • Site preparation and fire points

  • Use maintenance and arrangement of blacksmith tools

  • Identification and uses of available scrap metals

  • Identification of equipment parts and their functions (e.g. ox ploughs)

  • Fire management, forging, punching and drifting, hardening and tempering, repairs of selected items

  • Project coordination, operation and administration

  • Blacksmith tools required for making new blacksmith tools

  • Blacksmith tools required for making each hand implement

  • Specifications of raw materials for production of blacksmith tools

  • Specifications of raw materials for production of hand implements

  • Quantities of blacksmith tools and hand implements obtainable per quantity of raw materials

  • Methodologies for consumer survey, skills levels assessment, workshop capacity assessment, product quality assessment, monitoring and evaluation, and quality control

  • Local procurement Memorandum of Understanding

  • Training manuals (e.g. metal work, inventory, cash management, and marketing)

  • Blacksmith training tool kit specifications

  • Village production center (master blacksmith) tool kit specifications

  • Additional blacksmiths tool kits to diversify production (e.g. fisheries)


Livestock support is a more extensive topic than just restocking. Restocking programmes, involving the distribution of live animals, are often exposed to considerable risk. They are subject to problems of disease and logistics constraints (e.g. feeding), and are expensive. However, livestock = human food security for many people.

Women play key roles in raising small animals and in harvesting and processing livestock products for household consumption and sale. Men are often the owners and sellers of large livestock. In disaster situations men often migrate, join the war or seek off-farm employment, and women assume greater responsibilities in animal husbandry. Moreover, in response to the expanding urban demand for livestock products, peri- and intra-urban livestock raising have increased as income earning enterprises, with a greater participation of women and children. Ultimately, in most cities of developing countries, women are also vendors of prepared food which often utilize animal products.

Women frequently rear backyard poultry and small ruminants. Poultry restocking projects implemented with associated training and projects involving in-country redistribution, for example of small ruminants and draft-animals, have proved to be successful (e.g. Azerbaijan, Eritrea and Somalia).

Widows often do well when restocked. Women should preferably be actively engaged to the extent possible in target community consultations. Restocking helps to facilitate family reunification as displaced persons will tend to go "back on the range" if given enough animals (e.g. Afghanistan: about 70 small livestock per family - minimum). Families who have some stock of their own and are still in the pastoralist system should be targeted, i.e. not totally destitute with little or no respect or traditional rites in the community.

In the case of traditional animal traction with women’s active participation, the provision of draught animals with ploughs could contribute to alleviate their excessive workload and increase their labour productivity.

SEAGA analysis is frequently under utilized in emergency programming. Participatory techniques assist in the identification of the gender roles in managing different animal resources; understanding the different end-users for various categories of livestock; and in the assessment of needs for live animals, feed and veterinary remedies.

Programme Guidelines

Quantitative indicators do not always provide enough information and are not good for social objectives.

  • The viability of the intervention should be considered (i.e. whether or not there is sufficient political stability, fodder and water, and market viability/access).

  • Programmes of restocking need to be long term - requiring community ownership, monitoring and follow-up. Restocking should be conducted as part of a package that ties in with associated services, rather than a standalone intervention, i.e. it should be done in an integrated way that supports longer-term growth in the overall sector - water/land/animal management, marketing, animal health training, and livelihood diversification.

  • Attempts should be made to provide alternative food while herds are building up in numbers.

  • Animal health measures should be available at every phase of an emergency in order to preserve livestock herds, promote productivity and maintain resale values.

  • Market and infrastructure support should be considered to ensure active and healthy livestock markets for the benefit of pastoralist farmers but also to maximise the use of limited emergency resources.

  • Small stock restocking can be applied as a strategy to enhance mobility of assets in highly insecure areas or in areas of increased environmental degradation, or to increase household food security in camps for refugees and displaced persons.

  • In some circumstances, assistance should concentrate on large stock (or at least mixed stock), as they tend to be more valuable in the long term. Restocking with mixed species is better than small stock only.

  • Camels are best in dry areas, but they take a relatively long time to produce. Camels should be given with goats/sheep in order to build up numbers and provide a food supply. This tends to be expensive.

International transportation of emergency animal feeds is in principle not supported by FAO, though there may be a case for importing trace minerals. The supply of supplementary feeds can be considered, after carefully assessing their cost-effectiveness in extensive grazing systems needs. This is more easily justified for breeding and draft animals than for whole herds.

In extensive systems, the upgrading or rehabilitation of degraded rangelands, for example through oversowing with legumes or certain perennial grasses, might be an option in limited patches of rangeland where soil and moisture conditions are favourable.

Pastoral Banking Systems

The establishment of alternative investment opportunities for pastoralists, particularly those in middle or higher wealth strata, has been called a "keystone intervention" on rangelands. There are however a number of criteria to be considered in project design which, at least at first sight, appear to present important obstacles.

  • Such a scheme could require a motivational component to interest pastoralists in banking, and careful design to ensure they had easy access to their money.

  • Will bank accounts in depreciating developing-country currencies represent a better real return than livestock, even if periodic drought losses are factored in?

  • How will pastoralist banking interact with the use of livestock to build social networks and prestige?

  • Will traditional intra-community mechanisms of supporting the poor through livestock loans suffer? Have other traditional forms of saving (jewelry, guns, carpets) been considered?

  • How can the logistics of bringing pastoralists and banks together be overcome?

Special consideration of environmental hazards and related dangers of overgrazing should be made, particularly in areas of forced high human concentration - such as IDP and refugee settlements. In these areas re-stocking might not be advisable. Intervention strategies need to reflect these realities by incorporating support for livelihoods programmes as a part of quality overall emergency response.

Environmental Considerations

  • Drought mitigation measures, to minimise the impact of drought on production systems and livelihoods. These should include: de-stocking, drought-time grazing or fodder with emergency water supplies, credit, cash/food for work and other measures to maintain human food availability, rapid increases in human and animal services, suspension of taxation and associated charges, and relief measures - particularly for the infirm and those unable to work.

  • Emergency de-stocking to reduce pressure on stressed grazing areas, stimulate local economies in times of crisis and/or facilitate cash injections at critical times. If farmers are discouraged from selling or moving stock in bad years, this action encourages the build up of large herds, contributing to overgrazing.


Emergency assistance may be required to restore production and livelihoods of artisan fishery systems, affected by natural disasters (storms or tidal waves) or complex emergencies, where boats and equipment may have been lost. A gender-sensitive assessment is needed to determine the number and condition of affected people, boats, fishing gear and equipment in different locations before and after the event. This should take into consideration fishing, preservation, processing and transport methods; alternative sources of livelihood; and current and prospected market trends for fish produce.

Specialised Knowledge Required to Support Artisan Fishers

  • Fishing methods and techniques

  • Fish species

  • Processing

  • Preservation

  • Insulated containers and canoes

  • Cast, set, seine, and dipping nets

  • Hook and line

  • Trap baskets

  • Environment protection

  • Coastal fisheries

  • Inland fisheries

  • Villages

  • Training centers

  • Fishermen and fisherwomen

  • Record keeping and stock control

  • Net mesh and nylon twine size

  • Number, tex, denier, meters/kg

  • Net construction and hanging

  • Hook types and dimensions

  • Float and ballast dimensions

  • Stainless steel wire (50 cl, 1mm)

  • Rope (PE/PP) strands (4-8 mm)

  • Monolines (e.g. green 1.7-1mm)

  • Lead sinker types (210/240)

  • Twine diameter/stretch-mesh

  • Mounting, rigging, and hanging

  • Business management

  • Pricing, buying and selling

  • Marketing

  • Surveys

In fishing communities women tend to predominate in the handling, preservation and processing of the fish product: they assist in unloading boats and nets, they work at sun-drying, salting, smoking, preparing and processing fish. All side activities (such as collecting water, salt, and fuel) are also often managed by women and are very time-consuming and physically exhausting. In some regions women are also directly involved in fishing from shore, boats and in making and mending fishing gear. They also contribute significantly to feeding and harvesting in aquaculture enterprises.

Question Tank - Needs Assessment

Situation Checklist

  • What happened?

  • Who are the people affected by the disaster?

  • Are they men, women, or children?

  • Where are they?

  • How can you communicate with them?

  • Do you need separate meetings with men and women?

  • Are they refugees, displaced or local people?

  • Are their settlement patterns voluntary or involuntary?

  • Who needs what most?

  • What do they need first? For how long is support needed?

  • Do different people have different needs?

  • Is food available? Where? For whom?

  • What are the food habits? What has been changed?

  • How is food shared within the families/groups?

  • What are the conditions of access to food for men and women?

  • What can you do?

  • How can you do it? How can they do it?

  • Who can help?

People Affected Checklist

  • What are their characteristics (male, female, <5, >60?)

  • How many are female-headed households?

  • How many are orphans?

  • How many are disabled?

  • How many are internally displaced persons? Refugees? Returnees?

  • Where are they?

  • Who/how many lost their livelihood assets?

  • Where the losses short term (e.g. a single season’s harvest and stored food stocks, seeds and tools) or long term (e.g. permanent loss of land)?

  • What other assets were lost?

  • How many breadwinners were lost?

Beneficiary Registration Checklist

  • Does one need to register?

  • Who (men, women, rich/poor, minorities, scheduled castes and tribes) knows about how to register?

  • In what language is information given and by what means? Can everyone understand it?

  • What is the transaction cost of registration (time, money and meetings with leaders)?

  • Is either sex less able to register because of their more limited geographic or cultural mobility? Which? Why?

  • Can female household heads and disabled people get registered?

  • Is there likely to be systematic undercounting of any category - e.g. female-headed households?

Food Item Needs Checklist

  • Is the provision of staples or a "balanced" diet required?

  • What are the local food preferences?

  • What foods or varieties are easier to store, process and cook with limited fuel?

  • What firewood sources are available for cooking?

  • If fuel-saving stoves are provided, are they acceptable?

  • Is it safe to go outside the camp to look for firewood (land mines, possible rape)?

  • What are the water requirements for cooking? Container needs?

  • What are the preferred weaning foods for children < 5?

  • What food taboos affect women?

  • What do women want?

Non Food Item Needs Checklist

  • What is the water need for personal use (drinking, cooking, bathing and washing)?

  • What is the need for receptacles for water transportation (jerry cans)?

  • What are the temporary or permanent shelter needs (while displaced or for replacement/repair of permanent housing)?

  • What are the needs of men and women for privacy and separate bathing facilities?

  • What is the gender division of labour in house construction?

  • What are the preferred domestic items (cooking stoves, jerry cans, pots and pans, storage containers, and fuel for cooking/heating and lighting) and materials (cement, wire gabions, hand pumps, housing materials etc.) required?

  • What is needed in the way of clothing and blankets (male/female, adult/child)?

  • What are the medical needs (particularly female needs - reproductive health, family planning, and rape victims).

  • What is needed to ensure that schooling for children is be disrupted (girls, boys)?

Livelihood Resumption Needs Checklist

  • What preferred crops and varieties, hand tools, livestock breeds, and draught animals are required for a quick recovery?

  • What materials are needed for rehabilitation of livelihood assets?

Donor Resources Checklist

  • How much can (realistically) be resourced from donors?

  • When will resources be delivered?

  • Can food be temporarily diverted from other stocks while waiting for donated food to arrive?

  • Can donors borrow them from government stocks and repay when donated resources arrive?

  • What is the potential saving in food aid?

  • What is the role of intermediate level factors such as administrative regulations, transaction costs, institutions, prices, markets and market intermediaries?

  • What was the role of intermediate factors in the disaster?

  • How many people can be helped for how many days or weeks?

Programme Implementation Issues Checklist

  • What are the gender- disaggregated beneficiary selection criteria?

  • What is the best timing and duration of assistance?

  • What method of targeting is recommended, direct and/or indirect (e.g. through social markets, community targeting)?

  • What control structures for targeting and distribution are necessary?

  • What minimum income transfer per beneficiary group is required?

  • What existing community structures should be used for beneficiary selection and targeting?

  • What are the capacities of the implementation and distribution structures recommended?

  • What control structures for targeting and distribution are available?

Food Basket Checklist[17]

  • What is the general gender-disaggregated calorie intake deficit among the target population?

  • What is the value of the proposed aid package (e.g. food basket) in local terms and costs to the UN? What is the value compared with beneficiary incomes and existing wages?

  • What possibilities are there for substitution of local food items with imported food?

  • What is the nutritional value of the food intervention proposed?

  • How acceptable to beneficiaries are the proposed commodities, according to gender-disaggregated needs?

  • What are the special requirements (e.g. packaging, cooking qualities etc.)?

Question Tank - Situation Assessment

Socio-economic Background Checklist

  • What is the number of people affected by the emergency, disaggregated by gender?

  • What is the nutritional status of the population (or beneficiaries)?

  • What is the opportunity cost of food production compared with other agricultural products?

  • What are the gender- disaggregated income sources for both rural and urban areas?

  • What major economic data is available, especially on agriculture, food availability, and food imports?

  • What is the share of food imports in overall imports?

  • What gender-disaggregated household income data are available, differentiated between rural and urban incomes?

  • What is the level of land ownership, land distribution, and percentage of landowners disaggregated by gender in the rural population?

Effects on National Food Security Checklist

  • What are the effects of the emergency on national food security and food supply? What is the overall food availability situation?

  • What government measures are in place to increase food security linkages with other international and national programmes? What macro-economic changes have taken place? Are there any government budgetary problems restricting the national food import capacity?

  • What structural problems are leading to national food insecurity? What are the market conditions and possible interactions?

  • What is the await deficit caused by any extraordinary events that occurred during the agricultural marketing year being assessed?

  • What is the impact of the disaster on general economic and structural conditions important for agricultural production and marketing (production, transport, irrigation, infrastructure, cost of farm inputs etc.)?

  • What are the effects on market prices and the overall economic viability of food production and markets?

Effects on Household Food Security Checklist

  • Which are the most affected households (social status, gender-disaggregated, regional distribution)?

  • What gender-disaggregated changes in income sources within the affected households have occurred?

  • What are the gender -disaggregated coping capacities?

  • What solidarity networks and community self-help capacities exist?

  • What are the structural problems leading to household/intra-household food insecurity?

  • Are poor households facing additional expenditures? What are they?

  • Is there a danger of asset depletion? How acute is this danger?

  • How available are cooking fuels? What is the environmental impact of their use?

Role of Food Aid Checklist

  • What is the potential role of food aid regarding income transfers and savings?

  • Is there a need for creation of community assets? What types are recommended?

  • Is there a need for nutritional support? What types?

  • What would be the gender-disaggregated impact on empowerment of vulnerable groups?

Linkages and Government Food Security Measures Checklist

  • Are any changes to government food policies necessary?

  • What are the linkages with other economic/development support programmes (WB, UNDP/UNDAF, other UN agencies)?

  • What are the government plans and capacities to deal with the disaster?

  • What UN support linkages and synergies with other programmes at national level (NGOs) are recommended?

[16] Source: Mowbray, 1995.
[17] Source: WFP Modified Emergency Needs Assessment Guidelines. October, 1999.

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