Thematic Areas

Humanitarian Needs Assessment

HNA - ActionAid’s HRBA and needs assessment

HNA - ActionAid’s HRBA and needs assessment

ActionAid has a distinctive human rights-based approach (HRBA) that centres on active agency: supporting people living in poverty to become conscious of their rights, organise and claim their rights and hold duty bearers to account. ActionAid’s humanitarian responses are guided by our HRBA and by our Humanitarian Signature. Disaster affected people have the right to assistance: providing immediate lifesaving support which meet basic needs whilst also working to address underlying inequalities and promote long-term change.

ActionAid’s strategy

ActionAid’s 2028 global strategy, Action for Global Justice, recognises humanitarian work as a key priority for the organisation.

Priority 4 - Drive transformative women-led emergency preparedness, response and prevention

ActionAid will continue to build on its unique humanitarian signature that is grounded in human rights, focusing on promoting women-led preparedness and response in humanitarian emergencies, occupation and conflicts to strengthen their power and agency to transform the humanitarian system to be more locally led and accountable to affected communities. The rights of women and other groups made vulnerable by disasters, and protection from violence, exploitation and abuse in times of crises will also be strengthened through community-based protection mechanisms and improved accountability of humanitarian actors. We will build the resilience of rural and urban communities to climate change, disasters and conflicts through transformative actions from the local to the global level, led by women living in poverty and exclusion. The active engagement of young people will be a priority to prevent the worst effects of emergencies. ActionAid will continue to drive accountability to disaster and conflict affected communities, as well as the shifting of power to local organisations and movements at all levels.

ActionAid’s HRBA principles

Eight principles underlie our HRBA and guide all our humanitarian work, including needs assessment.

 ActionAid’s HRBA principles

  1. Putting the active agency of people living in poverty first and building their awareness of rights
  2. Analysing and confronting unequal and unjust power
  3. Advancing women’s rights
  4. Building partnerships
  5. Being accountable and transparent
  6. Monitoring, evaluating and evidencing our impact, and promoting learning
  7. Linking work across levels to ensure we address structural change
  8. Being solutions-orientated and promoting credible and sustainable alternatives

It’s essential that throughout the needs assessment process, an HRBA approach is followed, grounded in ActionAid’s eight HRBA principles. Alongside providing immediate relief, ActionAid must work to empower affected people living in poverty and exclusion, particularly women. We should support them to organise and mobilise with others, to have a voice and develop their ability to negotiate with the powerful in order to claim, secure and enjoy their human rights. 

ActionAid’s humanitarian signature

ActionAid’s humanitarian responses are also guided by our humanitarian signature, which focuses on the following elements: 

  • Shifting the power - ActionAid’s presence and relationships with local organisations in communities are enhanced through our responses and we build local capacity. We enable local leadership in programme design and response, and support access of local leaders to national funding and advocacy opportunities.
  • Women’s leadership - Women are often the worst affected in emergencies, as well as the first responders. We ensure power is shifted to women leaders in order to address existing power imbalances at all levels by promoting the leadership of women who are affected by the crisis. This will also mean that we will focus on women’s rights programming, including protection programming, so that women have the space, and agency, to lead change processes.
  • Accountability to affected communities - Effective humanitarian response means that all stakeholders and actors are accountable to affected communities.  ActionAid works with communities and local organisations to support them to hold powerful actors (including national governments; donors; INGOs) to account, and to ensure that they are responding appropriately to the needs expressed by the communities themselves.
  • Sustainability and resilience - It is crucial to link emergency response to resilience-building and longer term sustainable change, including empowering individuals and addressing underlying inequalities through all our development programming. 

ActionAid’s Humanitarian Signature should be applied at every stage of the needs assessment process. 

ActionAid’s WHS Core Commitments

At the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, ActionAid made eight core commitments in line with our HRBA and humanitarian signature: 

  • 50% women making decisions in their communities - ActionAid commits by 2020 to ensure the meaningful participation of women in all formal and informal decision-making processes, ensuring that women make up at least 50% of rights-holders engaged in community decision making and consultation processes that ActionAid leads.
  • 50% women's organisations as implementing partners - ActionAid commits to ensure at least 50% of its implementing partners in humanitarian action are women-led or women’s organisations by 2020.
  • 50% women in leadership - ActionAid commits to ensure at least 50% of leadership positions in humanitarian contexts are held by women by 2020, and that at least 50% of staff at all levels are women by 2020. 
  • Increased participation of local organisations in co-ordination platforms & processes - ActionAid will ensure in each response that its staff will be accompanied by front-line responders and local organisations when attending collective coordination platforms. ActionAid will also advocate for the inclusion of front-line responders and local organisations to ensure they have a seat at the table in collective response coordination processes.
  • Humanitarian gender-responsive programming - ActionAid commits to ensure all of its humanitarian programming is gender responsive by 2020.
  • Funding & building capacity of national & local organisations - ActionAid commits to provide increased support by way of direct funding and capacity building to national and local NGOs by 2020. This support will empower and allow them to play a central role in the programming and delivering of principled and coordinated humanitarian assistance.
  • Ending gender-based violence in emergencies - ActionAid endorses the Call to Action on Protection from GBV in emergencies in 2016 and commits to integrate women-led community-based protection mechanisms as part of its core humanitarian response programming by 2020.
  • Increased funding to local and national women's groups - ActionAid commits to increase funding and capacity development to local and national women’s groups as equal partners in our humanitarian action.



Links to useful documents will be shown here.

Tools in this toolbox

There are no related tools.