EMMA - Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis

The EMMA toolkit is a guidance manual for humanitarian staff in sudden-onset emergencies.  It aims to improve emergency responses by encouraging and assisting relief agencies to better understand, support and make use of local market-systems in disaster zones.

There is a growing realization that the best opportunities for assisting women and men in emergency situations may be missed unless emergency responses are designed with a good understanding of critical market systems.

Market systems play a vital role in supplying critical goods and services to ensure survival and protect livelihoods, both in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and in the longer term. Before, during, and beyond any crisis, emergency-affected women and men also depend on market systems as sources of income and remuneration. 

Get the EMMA Toolkit from Practical Action Publishing

Visit the official EMMA toolkit website

EMMA offers a quick, rough-and-ready analysis with practical recommendations that are suitable for the early stages of emergencies. It does not rely on users having specialist economic or market analysis skills; and it is broad in scope: addressing survival needs, livelihood protection and the transition to economic recovery.

The rationale for EMMA is that better understanding of the critical market systems in a disaster situation enables agencies to consider a broader range of humanitarian responses.  The EMMA process assists agencies to address humanitarian needs more effectively, while also not hindering economic recovery by side-lining the local private sector.

Use of the EMMA toolkit can give humanitarian agencies more confidence in non-conventional relief activities: for example, cash-based interventions, local procurement and other innovative forms of support to market actors (e.g. traders).  Better use of local market-system capabilities can, in turn, mean more efficient use of humanitarian resources, faster economic recovery and less risk of long-term dependency on outside assistance.

Why market systems matter in emergencies

For ensuring survival

  • Market systems may be able to provide affected target groups with food, essential household items, fuel, and other forms of relief or services to meet basic needs

For protecting livelihoods

  • Market systems may be able to provide affected target groups with urgently needed tools, agricultural inputs and services, and fodder and fuel, or replace other livelihood assets
  • Market systems may be able to provide affected target groups with jobs and opportunities for wage labour, or link them to buyers for their produce

Why use the EMMA toolkit?

EMMA’s aim is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of early humanitarian actions taken to ensure people’s survival; to protect their food security and their livelihoods, and to help agencies to avoid doing harm. EMMA helps front-line staff to both understand the important market aspects of an emergency situation that may not otherwise be considered adequately or early enough, and communicate this knowledge promptly and effectively into programme decision-making processes. 

Six reasons why EMMA is valuable:

  1. To make early decisions about the wisdom of different direct-response options.
    EMMA compares the likely outcomes and risks of different types of direct intervention to decide which forms (or combinations) are most appropriate in meeting people’s priority needs.
  2. To assess opportunities for complementary ‘indirect’ actions.
    EMMA explores opportunities for alternative indirect forms of market support that can rehabilitate or assist recovery of critical market systems.
  3. To reduce the risk of doing harm.
    EMMA increases awareness of the potential to harm businesses and households in critical market systems. Hence it can reduce aid dependency, promote long-term recovery, and increase the stability of local markets that provide people with goods, services, and sources of income.
  4. To assist in monitoring the performance and accessibility of market systems.
    EMMA profiles can help agencies to track both the continuing impact of a crisis, and the outcomes of humanitarian actions, on critical market systems. Up-to-date information about market access and performance can alert managers to any adverse effects of humanitarian actions, and enable them to make appropriate decisions about when and how to phase out assistance.
  5. To improve the quality of disaster preparedness.
    Through better knowledge of how critical market systems work, their potentials and vulnerabilities, EMMA market maps and profiles can improve the quality of disaster-preparedness planning.
  6. To define the requirements for more detailed market analysis.
    Where information is poor, time is short, and skills to interpret market data are weak, EMMA can still help managers to define detailed terms of reference for more thorough research of particularly critical market systems.


View the history of the EMMA Toolkit

Click here to download the entire EMMA introduction and overview chapter

Examples of the value added by EMMA

Comparing different direct-response options: cash vs. in-kind distributions

  • A major flood event destroys the standing crops and food stocks of half a million people in a region that is not accustomed to such disasters. Immediately, humanitarian agencies begin household-level distribution of standard food rations e.g. rice, lentils, oil and sugar. Local traders appear to be quite resilient, however, and staple foods, including some local produce, are soon on sale. It is not clear to what extent this market-based supply can meet the target population’s needs. EMMA can help agencies to decide whether and when it is safe to switch to cash-based assistance.
  • A severe earthquake damages the homes and possessions of two million residents in a mountainous region. Winter is approaching, and many lack adequate clothing and blankets. Donated garments are easily available from some donors, but most are culturally inappropriate. Meanwhile, on the plains below, clothing factories, part of a well-functioning garments market system, are undamaged. EMMA can explore the relative advantages of local procurement, or cash, to meet people’s needs.

Exploring opportunities for complementary ‘indirect’ actions: market-system support

  • Coastal paddy-fields have been wrecked by salt-water intrusion following a cyclone. Rehabilitation will require extensive, deep ploughing of the soil – at a time when the local population is struggling to reconstruct homes and infrastructure. An agency considers buying and distributing power tillers to farmers but is concerned about the cost, sustainability, and social impact of this action. EMMA can investigate the sector and reveal any opportunities for strengthening the local rental market for agri-machines instead – for example, by using vouchers for farmers, and loans to rental-service providers.

Avoiding doing harm

  • After the 2004 Asian tsunami, humanitarian agencies got involved in purchasing and distributing fishing boats on a huge scale. Unfortunately, in many locations there was inadequate analysis of the complex social relations linking fishing households, boat ownership, and the fish market system. As a result, in many places too many boats, or the wrong types of boat, were distributed. This led to over-fishing when the demand for fish was still low, to fishing yields that could not be ecologically sustained, and to worsening social tensions that affected vulnerable groups. In such situations, EMMA can provide insight into the risks and help agencies to avoid the worst mistakes.

See more examples of EMMA’s impact in the field:

EMMA in the field – project reports

Read the history of EMMA in practice

If you are a practitioner, your feedback on EMMA is invaluable to us. What is your experience of using EMMA, and what comments or suggestions do you have? How useful have you found this information, and is there anything missing?

You can also join the EMMA community to share messages, announcements and documents about EMMA.

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To contact us please email with "FAO the markets team" in the subject.

EMMA training

Training in how to use the EMMA Toolkit is provided by Practical Action Consulting. It is aimed at humanitarian practitioners and managers in general emergency response, food security, shelter, watsan, livelihoods and economic recovery.  It is also relevant to donor and government partners in the humanitarian community.

The official EMMA Training is a five-day guided study of the Toolkit, covering its purposes, principles and processes.

The course was designed by Tony Dines, and accommodates up to 24 participants, hosted by two  facilitators.  It uses a very participative and interactive style of training, that is proven to be effective and relevant.  It has been successfully run ten times in international locations, by different members of a team of trainers that is now increasingly experienced at delivering the course.

Find out more about EMMA Training with Practical Action Consulting

Explore the history of the EMMA Toolkit

Get the EMMA Toolkit from Practical Action Publishing

Visit the official EMMA Toolkit website

Click here to download the entire EMMA introduction and overview chapter

Read what people are saying about EMMA

Practical Action Consulting: EMMA Training

Details on Practical Action Consulting training on Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis (EMMA)

Read more

EMMA Case Studies

The EMMA toolkit was published in January 2010.  During its first 12 months, it was used in several major emergency situations, including after the Haitian earthquake, civil unrest in Kyrgyzstan, an earthquake in Indonesia, catastrophic flooding in Pakistan and later Vietnam.

Read the Haiti reports here

Read the Pakistan reports here

Or download individual reports from our comprehensive library of EMMA assessments here

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