Vulnerability assessment, stakeholder assessment, community assessment and strategy formulation: a case study of the humanitarian response to Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 17:33 authored by Sithu Wai
This thesis investigated the implications of assessment in terms of humanitarian response and assistance in emergency situations. A case study of four communities seriously affected by a disaster was used to investigate how assessment and related humanitarian aid processes facilitate (or impede) recovery. The study incorporates a review from multiple perspectives about the humanitarian processes which took place in four highly affected communities following the devastation of Cyclone Nargis in Myanmar. Human Security Theory – which incorporates seven sectors for attention- provided the framework for assessing outcomes associated with the humanitarian response. The author spent several months collecting data through interviews, focus groups observations and documentary research in two townships in Irrawaddy Division of Myanmar. These represent the most affected areas from Cyclone Nargis (2008). Empirical literature, practice and guidelines provided the basis for the development of measures used in the investigation. Case study data collection took place several years following the disaster. Analyses of data included comparison with the predicted patterns, as suggested by humanitarian guidelines (ideal humanitarian aid process). The findings from this study reveals that some (coastal) areas suffered more serious and devastating effects from the cyclone than other (inland) areas. However humanitarian aid was not disseminated accordingly. Aid was shown to be uneven in terms of support to the seven sectors of human security, and was not adjusted to local needs and context. Most tellingly, despite the apparent liaison between external humanitarian agencies and community based organizations, it was shown that the overall humanitarian response did not provide opportunities for fulfilling community based potential in terms of relief and recovery. Further analysis revealed that, in this case study, the humanitarian aid response was based on a vacuum of information about needs and vulnerabilities. Data collected from affected communities emphasised that misguided needs assessment underlay the ineffectiveness of the aid response. The findings from the case study resulted in the development of a revised assessment framework which is offered as a complement to humanitarian assessment tools currently in use. The revised tool, entitled Vulnerability Assessment, Stakeholder Assessment, Community Assessment and Strategy Formulation (VACS) is recommended as a way to ensure effective humanitarian assessment and response strategies incorporates the voices of local populations and addresses the needs of children and other vulnerable groups.