Various sources of guidance on data responsibility in humanitarian action contain tools for conducting data impact assessments in order to understand the positive and negative consequences of a data management activity. Such assessments are a key component of accountability mechanisms and can serve to demonstrate compliance with applicable law, regulations and/or internal policies. Even when not obligatory, an assessment is advisable to help maximise benefits and minimise risks associated with any data management activity.

The Centre has developed a Guidance Note on Data Impact Assessments to support humanitarians in conducting assessments for their data management activities. The note includes guidance on how to decide whether to do an assessment, as well as several examples of data impact assessment tools. The Centre developed this note in collaboration with the International Committee of the Red Cross, Privacy International and UN Global Pulse.

The Centre and the collaborators on this guidance note recommend that organisations focus on the following areas:

  1. Design standard data impact assessment tools
  2. Develop the capacity to conduct assessments
  3. Share data impact assessment outcomes

The note is the fifth in a series of eight guidance notes on Data Responsibility in Humanitarian Action, which are being published over the course of 2019 and 2020. Through the series, the Centre aims to provide additional guidance on specific issues, processes and tools for data responsibility in practice to complement the OCHA Data Responsibility Guidelines.  This series is made possible with the generous support of the Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operation.

Read the other guidance notes in this series on Statistical Disclosure Control, Data Incident Management, Data Responsibility in Public-Private Partnerships and Humanitarian Data Ethics here.

For more on managing sensitive humanitarian data, visit the Data Responsibility page on the Centre’s website or contact our team at