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Guide to Market Analysis in Humanitarian Response

International Rescue Committee

Guide to Market Analysis in Humanitarian Response

Local markets may not immediately spring to mind when you think about an emergency response to a humanitarian crisis, but they play a crucial role in supplying jobs, services and essential goods such as tools, food, household items and fuel – things that become even more important in an emergency situation.

When humanitarian organisations have a solid understanding of local market systems, they can better support these vital systems. If humanitarian workers don’t consider local market systems in their emergency response, they may even end up hindering the area’s long-term economic recovery.

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) needed a suite of elearning all about the Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis (EMMA) approach to disaster response. This elearning would help the IRC teach future assessment workers how to more effectively support local markets during an emergency.

irc2The IRC needed two separate courses:

  • An introductory-level course that would provide an overview of the key points of EMMA, and help learners understand why market analysis is such an important step during an emergency situation.
  • A more advanced course that would consist of multiple modules, covering content that had previously been delivered as a 3 day, in-person training course.


It’s not enough for learners to simply reach the end of a course, they also need to be able to apply the skills they’ve gained throughout that course.

New skills are transferred to the workplace more effectively when the learner has the opportunity to practice them first. However, we couldn’t expect the learner to practice their applying their new skills and knowledge during a real-life emergency, where a mistake could potentially put lives at risk. The course itself had to provide learners with opportunities to practice what they’d learned, in a safe environment.

The Solution

Based on IRC’s requirements and our experience of working on similar projects, we decided on a scenario-based approach. This involved designing fictional emergency scenarios and then challenging learners to perform a market assessment for these fictional scenarios.

This gave learners the opportunity to practice applying their new skills and knowledge, outside of a genuine emergency. Working their way through our scenarios also reinforced the information the learner had been given, as people retain information more effectively by doing, rather than just being told. Interactive scenarios are a powerful way of adding this practical ‘doing’ element to an all-digital course.

These scenarios also allowed us to deliver a more engaging overall learning experience, as the learner can see exactly how this new information relates to them and their job.  


Our suite of elearning has provided humanitarian workers who haven’t had the chance to practice EMMA in-person, with the opportunity to learn all about this approach to market analysis.

When taken together, the two courses we created for the IRC ensure that future assessment workers are better prepared to support local markets during an emergency situation, by providing them with the skills and knowledge they need in order to join an assessment team and perform an effective market analysis.