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UNICEF in Emergencies & Humanitarian Action

'SMART Methodology Version 1' expected to save lives in humanitarian emergencies

© UNICEF video
The official announcement launching ‘SMART Methodology Version 1’ was delivered by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman at UNICEF House in New York.

By Jihun Sohn

NEW YORK, 23 June 2005 – UNICEF and its partners have launched a new computer-based system that is expected to save lives in complex humanitarian emergencies.

‘SMART Methodology Version 1’ will help policy makers and field workers make the right decisions with reliable data – in turn benefiting the most vulnerable people in crises around the world.

The official announcement was delivered yesterday by UNICEF Executive Director Ann M. Veneman at UNICEF House in New York. 

“We are pleased to announce a major step forward in understanding of the real needs of populations in crisis situations,” said Ms. Veneman in her remarks.

© UNICEF/HQ00-0245/Giacomo Pirozzi
“SMART Methodology Version 1” will help field workers make the right decisions with reliable data in humanitarian emergencies.

“SMART Methodology Version 1, or Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions, will improve our data collection and assessment capabilities, which will, in turn, prevent needless deaths and suffering during emergencies.”
Ease of use

The SMART system was developed with coordination work led by UNICEF and the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) also provided funding.

The Windows-based analytical software programme and its standardized reporting format simplifies the tedious process of entry and analysis of complex data. Unlike previous methodologies, the SMART system is easy for field workers to understand and to apply.

“After they put in the raw data into the computer they just press the button and the report gets written,” explained Dr. Michael Golden, Professor Emeritus of the University of Aberdeen, who helped write the programme’s manual.

The SMART system will first be implemented in Ethiopia in the coming months. Ethiopia has experienced several humanitarian emergencies in past years and continues to struggle against drought and famine. UNICEF Representative in Ethiopia Bjorn Ljungqvist believes it will be invaluable to field workers.

“They need to know how you can actually assess the problem, how you can monitor and see if you’re really making planned progress or not,” said Mr. Ljungqvist.

Development process

During the two-year development process, the SMART Initiative brought together experts and practitioners from the United Nations and other international and bilateral agencies, non-governmental organizations, and academic institutions. The result is a common approach for all relief organizations to adopt in response to:

  • the issue of existing multiple methodologies
  • the lack of coherence in needs assessments
  • the lack of standardized data to determine comparative needs and prioritize resources
  • new emerging issues such as dynamic population movement in complex humanitarian emergencies




23 June 2005:
UNICEF New York correspondent Jihun Sohn reports on the new SMART system, providing reliable data for the right decisions in humanitarian emergencies.

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