SCAN (Systematic Cost Analysis) Tool: enhancing humanitarian effectiveness

Increasing numbers of people are in critical need of humanitarian aid – and more funds than ever are needed to meet their needs. These challenges require new approaches – which is why the Dutch Relief Alliance (DRA) has launched the first Call for Proposals under the DRA Innovation Fund (DIF). This initiative sees humanitarian organisations join forces with the private sector to develop innovative proposals to tackle urgent humanitarian challenges.

The colossal gap between humanitarian needs and available funding is an enduring problem in the NGO sector. For this reason alone it is crucial that funding is directed towards the right programmes – cost-effective interventions that have the biggest impact on the most people. Whilst there’s no shortage of motivation to find cost-effective ways to deliver assistance, a critical gap exists: methods used to estimate value for money (VfM) aren’t consistent across agencies or programmes.

The Systematic Cost Analysis (SCAN) tool is an International Rescue Committee (IRC) tool that directly addresses the need for rapid and rigorous VfM analysis. Pulling grant expense data from organisations’ finance systems, it helps users estimate how cost-efficient their programme was, and how this cost-efficiency compares to other programmes in different contexts. It also provides evidence-based suggestions for how to improve the cost-efficiency of that particular type of programme (e.g. cash transfers, latrine construction, case management).

A 2018 Iraq pilot run by four NGOs showed that SCAN’s methodology and walk-through process can be implemented by a variety of humanitarian organisations. To this end the DRA Innovation Fund (DIF) is funding a Consortium with partners including the Stichting Vluchteling/IRC, Mercy Corps and Save the Children. The aim is to build, pilot and roll out a multi-agency version of the tool with improved data security structures and protocols.

The ultimate goal of the SCAN tool is to increase impact. An increase in the volume and quality of VfM evidence will enable organisations with limited funds to achieve greater impact for beneficiaries.

Lead Applicant: Stichting Vluchteling (SV)/ IRC
Co-Applicant: Save the Children (SC)
Other Party: Mercy Corps (MC)

Contact Person: Dieuwerke Luiten – dieuwerkeluiten[@]