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Global Shelter Cluster Information Management and Assessment Toolkit


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1E. Initial Situation Analysis

When a cluster is activated or a cluster has to respond to an emergency within a protracted emergency, one of the first steps is understanding as much as possible the environment in which it will be operating.
  • 1Ei. To introduce this section and illustrate what can be meant by initial situation analysis, the following interactive map developed in response to the Goni typhoon in the Philippines in November 2020 is a best practice example on how to visualize key information of the overall conditions following a disaster. It does so by visualizing severity through a simple severity index based on population density and number of households damaged/destroyed, as well as showing the typhoon path.   
Several tools are available to conduct an initial situation analysis, including first and foremost remote sensing  and Secondary Data Reviews (SDR). SDR can help answer essential questions necessary before any intervention: do we have access (both physical and security-wise)? Have similar events occurred in the past and if yes, what worked and what didn’t? What is the information we’re missing and need? Who is already in-country? In what type of housing did the population live prior to the crisis? What are the shelter types in which the affected population is living now? What is the capacity of the local population? 
  • 1Eii & 1Eiii. Support to implement a full SDR can be found in this guidance document from ACAPS (for sudden onset disasters) or this one from UNHCR.
  • 1Eiv & 1Ev. As additional resources, the JIPS matrix and report template also provide solid starting points for framing and help begin the SDR process.
  • 1Evi. When fully carried-out, the SDR can take weeks and require full-time attention, which, very often, will not be possible during sudden onset disasters or other rapid interventions. Instead, clusters can opt for rapid versions, which aim to cover the essential only. This short note briefs on how to proceed with rapid SDR (upcoming).
Although most examples hereafter were conducted during later stages of the cluster lifecycle, they are included here to serve as inspiration to put in place SDR (rapid or not) processes during activation and rapid action. To note as well that the content of the SDR will ultimately depend on the context and research objectives.
At this stage of the response, the SDR serves to help in identifying what is known to the Shelter Cluster and its partners and what is not. This will help in drafting the first Shelter Cluster Strategy for the response and also in setting about to do an assessment which will identify the critical pieces of data that are not known necessary for providing a shelter response.  
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