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When assessing the community’s needs in the wake of a crisis, it might be hard, or even impossible, to physically reach people affected, and to include many people in the assessment. Many of the tools available can be challenging to use because they are based on interviews or direct observations. Therefore, we have piloted a self-administered online tool, the HESPER Web, to assess perceived needs in humanitarian populations.

When piloting the HESPER Web in a large refugee camp in Kenya, we posted an invitation and a survey link in training centres and internet- and communication centres within the refugee camp, as well as on Facebook. We found that using it was a quick and reliable way to gather information from many persons at the same time, and that the HESPER Web was as good as the original interview-based survey to inventor perceived needs. In a few days, almost 300 persons had provided the UNHCR in Kenya and the research team with information on their current needs- without actually meeting all of them face to face, that would have taken about 100 hours for one person.

“We were positively surprised that so many people actually responded to the invitation to answer the HESPER Web.” - Karin Hugelius, principal investigator

Online tools also enable to include populations that are rarely included in scientific studies in humanitarian contexts, such as people without a fixed address or who have already left the area or people who are hard to physically reach, for example due to security or infrastructure reasons. Therefore, we are pleased to see that the HESPER Web is a useful way to gain such information, as long as there is internet available, and the information archive is transferred and stored in a safe way. This opens new possibilities to not rely needs assessment on secondary data or estimations, but to include the affected people themselves in this process and let them tell their needs.

Interested in trying HESPER web?

We are now open for new partnership and collaborations for the last field test. If you are engaged in a humanitarian organisation that is interested to try HESPER Web in an ongoing humanitarian context, and to contribute to the scientific development of reliable and useful tools for the future, please get in contact with us!

Opportunity: Test the new online HESPER web for needs assessment
Timeframe: August to December 2021
Setting: A sudden onset disaster of any kind
Contact: Dr Karin Hugelius, e-mail:

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