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Markets in Humanitarian respose

Why is this theme important?

Humanitarian stakeholders from all sectors recognize markets as critical drivers of recovery and resilience. The ability of crisis-affected populations to meet their needs through local markets is a key pre-condition of effective cash transfer programming.  Decision-making on cash transfer programming therefore requires market analysis, as a key component of response analysis, to inform the design and implementation of appropriate interventions. Improving capacity in market analysis directly enables Global Objective #2 of the Global Framework for Action: Ensure cash is routinely considered, alongside other tools.

Many organisations have invested in the development of tools to support market analysis. As the scale and sectoral breadth of CTP grows, capacity to analyse markets across sectors and across functions continues to be critical.

The increasing use of cash transfer programming, and growing experience in market analysis, has also encouraged humanitarian practitioners to consider market-based programming more holistically. Market-based programming includes interventions that use the market (such as cash transfers to affected populations), as well as interventions that directly support the markets (such as conditional grants to traders to recover their market capacity). A market-based programming lens to CTP can further increase its potential to efficiently, effectively and accountably meet the needs of affected populations.


What should progress look like in this area?

By 2020, if CTP and broader market-based programming to be routinely considered, this will mean that:

  • Market analysis is integrated across the humanitarian project cycle, informing program design and, where appropriate, program adaptation.
  • Market information gathered during non-crisis times is used to inform, improve and expedite the delivery of humanitarian assistance in emergencies 
  • Market support and market strengthening interventions are systematically considered, and implemented as a complement and/or alternative to direct assistance to crisis-affected populations

To achieve this progress, the following investments are required:

  • Adaptation of market analysis tools for use across sectors, including service markets
  • Continued investment in a more systematised use of market analysis and market-based programming across sectors and across the humanitarian project cycle, considering the role of different functions (logistics and programmes) in market analysis
  • Capacity building on markets through the development and delivery of specialised training
  • Evidence building on:
    • the impact of market-support interventions on households
    • the added value of pre-crisis market assessments and resulting programming for emergency response and market resilience
    • the optimal timing for introducing market recovery, employment and enterprise development programming in humanitarian contexts
    • the relationship between labour markets and commodity markets in a crisis

Ongoing initiatives and news

Markets in Crises

What is it? The Markets in Crises (MiC) Community of Practice is an online forum for sharing information and collaborating on all aspects of market awareness and engagement in pre-crisis, emergency and recovery contexts.

The MiC was created as an independent community to include a wide range of stakeholders engaged with markets in crisis environments, including NGOs, donors, academics, UN agencies and the private sector. MiC aims to facilitate links between those whose work focuses on crisis responses and those who are more concerned with longer term market functioning and development work.

How to join? The MiC is a community of practice open to anyone interested in markets, crises, market development and/or emergency response. To join the MiC online community, and gain access to the library, please click here. You can also engage with the MiC community on Twitter: @MarketsinCrises.



SEEP is a collaborative learning network. We support strategies that create new and better opportunities for vulnerable populations, especially women, to participate in markets and improve their quality of life. Their vision markets that provide opportunities for all people to engage and prosper.  


BEAM is a space to share knowledge and learning about the role of market systems in reducing poverty. Understand how and why market systems approaches work, read practical guidance on how to put the approach into practice, and share your insights with other practitioner.



Market Analysis: 

The process of understanding the key features and characteristics of a market system based on the data collected during the assessment. The information can be used to formulate predictions about how prices, availability, and access will develop in future, and to inform decisions about whether or how to intervene. In practice this term is often mistakenly used interchangeably with market assessment.

Market-based programming:

Market-based programming or market-based interventions are understood to be projects that work through or support local markets. The terms cover all types of engagement with market systems, ranging from actions that deliver immediate relief to those that proactively strengthen and catalyze local market systems or market hubs