Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) Operational Learning

The ultimate goal of The Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) is more effective, efficient, and appropriate humanitarian responses to crises. The aim is to achieve this by promoting better-informed and more evidence-driven responses, specifically by supporting a process of coordinated needs assessment which is timely, coherent, and appropriate to context, with results that are accessible and relevant to decision makers. This is partly prompted by donor demands for more evidence-based funding proposals, as well as for more “joined up” and better prioritized program strategies.

Continual improvement will be required to refine assessment approaches to achieve this aim. UNOCHA is leading this process globally. The ACAPS project aims to support and inform this process, in part through the deployment of relevant assessment expertise on request from OCHA and country teams. Operational learning is one key component of this support. Tufts University and ODI have been contracted by ACAPS to lead this element of their support. The Tufts/ODI team includes Peter Walker, Director of the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, Dan Maxwell, Research Director at the Feinstein International Center at Tufts University, James Darcy, Senior Research Fellow at ODI, as Lead Researchers and Heather Stobaugh as Assistant Researcher.

The overall learning objective is to test the validity of various hypotheses about the role of cross-sector assessment, to identify the most effective approaches and lessons learned from experience, and to use the results to inform the design and implementation of current and future assessments. This year the Tufts operational learning team is carrying out field research in Ethiopia, DRC and the Philippines in support of the project.

The most recent output of the ACAPS project is the Profiling and Assessment Resource Kit (PARK). The PARK online was created to complement existing guidance on profiling and assessment activities. It does this by making methodologies, tools and other practical resources used in previous profiling and assessment exercises readily available to practitioners around the world.

By providing resources on all stages of the IDP profiling and joint assessment processes, PARK serves the interests of a range of actors, including: governmental bodies, national institutions, national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs), humanitarian clusters and United Nations Country Teams (UNCTs) working to identify and support the needs of affected populations.

Initiated by the Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS) and managed jointly with the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS), the PARK project was born out of the two teams’ combined experiences assisting field operations in profiling IDP situations and conducting joint assessments.

Other outputs include the completed training reports and Review of the Libya Secondary Data Review which have been shared with ACAPS, their partners, and other stakeholders. Although it is too early to assess the impact of the project, the early findings have been presented to key stakeholders, and these have been used to make real-time adjustments to improve the project, specifically in regards to training and secondary data review development.