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Market Analysis in Preparedness

To date, humanitarian market analysis has, predominantly, been used in post emergency responses to rapid onset crises. However, market analysis can be done in a variety of contexts, from emergency response to preparedness, contingency planning, mitigation, disaster risk reduction, and early recovery.

A focus on understanding and engaging with critical markets in pre-crises contexts allows for some exciting developments in markets thinking. Pre-crises market analysis compares market systems in ‘less stressed’ stages (usually the time when the analysis is taking place), with ‘more stressed’ forecasts of the evolution of the slow-onset crises. This comparison allows the analyst to predict how the market could function in crises contexts and to understand what responses would be most appropriate. It also saves time when the crisis hits, as essential baseline data is already available and teams have had the time to prepare for selected responses.

However, undertaking market analysis before a crisis occurs has even more potential. Because the pre-crisis market analysis maps the functionality of the current market system it is often clear to see which parts of the market system don’t work efficiently or effectively in the immediate context.

By understanding the capacity and constraints of critical market systems, the market baseline assessments can not only improve preparedness and feed into contingency planning, but can also help design responses that could mitigate the effects of a crisis, by strengthening certain parts of a market system. Moreover, market analysis often highlights structural issues that may limit the access of target groups to basic goods and income markets. Understanding these issues enables programmes to be designed that can alter the dynamics of the market system. This can begin to address the long term, or ‘chronic’ nature of vulnerability and poverty.

Enhanced Response Capacity (ERC) project

The Enhanced Response Capacity (ERC) project came about from an observed failure in humanitarian responses to slow-onset crises coming from gaps in thinking, tools and methods, analytical and decision making processes and capacity in responding to slow-onset crises.

In response, since 2012 a consortia formed of Oxfam, Save the Children UK and Concern Worldwide, with funding from ECHO-ERC, have been working to improve preparedness to slow onset crises.

As the overarching product of the ERC project, the consortium partners developed a Situation and Response Analysis Framework (SRAF) that enables practitioners to plan and respond early to slow-onset food crises. The SRAF uses contingency planning as the main driver of timely and appropriate action and is composed of three key elements: 

  • baseline analysis, which quantifies the status of livelihoods and markets to understand the impact of shocks; 
  • analysis and planning, which uses seasonal forecasts to develop actionable plans on the basis of detailed scenarios, appropriate interventions and strategic objectives; 
  • and context monitoring, which updates and refines scenarios and contingency plan actions before and after shocks to both inform current and future responses.

The Framework uniquely integrates real scenarios and forecasts into contingency planning, allowing for a needs-based rationale that is relevant, timely and easily replicable.

Case studies