Rapid needs assessments: Severity and priority measures

Posted on 8 October, 2013 – 2:59 AM

by Aldo Benini (received 8th October 2013)  abenini@starpower.net     http://aldo-benini.org/

“Rapid assessments after disasters gauge the intensity of unmet needs across various spheres of life, commonly referred to as “sectors”. Sometimes two different measures of needs are used concurrently – a “severity score” independently given in each sector and a “priority score”, a relative measure comparing levels of needs to those of other sectors. Needs in every assessed locality are thus scored twice.

“Severity and priority – Their measurement in rapid needs assessments” clarifies the conceptual relationship. Aldo Benini wrote this note for the Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) in Geneva following the Second Joint Rapid Assessment of Northern Syria (J-RANS II) in May 2013. It investigates the construction and functioning of severity and priority scales, using data from Syria as well as from an earlier assessment in Yemen. In both assessments, the severity scales differentiated poorly. Therefore an artificial dataset was created to simulate what associations can realistically be expected between severity and priority measures. The note discusses several alternative measurement formulations and the logic of comparisons among sectors and among affected locations.

Readers find the note as well as files needed to replicate the simulation here; the author welcomes new ideas for the measurement of the severity and priority of needs in general and improvements to the simulation code in particular.”

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