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This document was written by Helene Juillard (independent consultant) under the technical guidance and coordination of Isabelle Pelly (Technical Coordinator, CaLP), with funding from the Swiss government. It is a product of consultation with several agencies and more than 10 individuals across sectors and governance levels, including Emily Sloane (IRC), Karri Byrne (independent consultant), Sandy Walton (Ellery) and Leonie Tax (ACAPS). It has benefited from the experience shared by the representatives of the other Humanitarian Standards Partners including Sphere, Minimum Economic Recovery Standards and the Livestock Emergency Guidelines and Standards. CaLP updated MISMA in 2018, to include updated hyperlinks and references to new documents and tools such as the Sphere Handbook 2018.

A previous version of the Minimum Standard for Market Analysis, published in 2013 under the name Minimum Requirements for Market Analysis, was written by Lois Austin and Sebastien Chessex.


Figure 1: The standard, key actions (KA) and indicators

List of Abbreviations

CaLP Cash Learning Partnership

CFW Cash for work

CTP Cash transfer programming

EMMA Emergency Market Mapping and Analysis

EWS Early warning system

FEWSNET Famine Early Warning System Network

HSP Humanitarian Standards Partnership

MAG Market assessment guidance

MBP Market-based programming

MISMA Minimum Standard for Market Analysis

MSMA Multi-sectoral market analysis

PCMA Pre-crisis market analysis (previously PCMMA)

RAM Rapid Assessment for Markets Guidance


Assistance modality: Assistance modality refers to the form of assistance – e.g. cash transfer, vouchers, in-kind, service delivery, or a combination. This can include both direct transfers to household level, and assistance provided at a more general or community level e.g. health services, WASH infrastructure.

Cash transfer programming: CTP refers to all programs where cash (or vouchers for goods or services) is directly provided to beneficiaries. In the context of humanitarian assistance the term is used to refer to the provision of cash or vouchers given to individuals, household or community recipients; not to governments or other state actors. CTP covers all modalities of cash based assistance, including vouchers. This excludes remittances and microfinance in humanitarian interventions (although microfinance and money transfer institutions may be used for the actual delivery of cash). The term can be used interchangeably with Cash Based Interventions, Cash Based Transfers and Cash and Voucher Assistance.

Market: a system of exchange between two or more actors or players. The exchange can be for goods or services, or for money and can take place in a physical space or through virtual media such as the internet. Markets are sometimes defined by the forces of supply and demand, rather than geographical location e.g. ‘imported cereals make up 40% of the market.’

Market analysis: The process of understanding the key features and characteristics of a market system based on the data collected during the assessment. The information can be used to formulate predictions about how prices, availability, and access will develop in future, and to inform decisions about whether or how to intervene. In practice this term is often mistakenly used interchangeably with market assessment. Unless otherwise specified, the MISMA uses the term “market analysis” to refer to the whole market assessment and analysis exercise.

Market assessment: In humanitarian settings, it refers to the process of collecting market-related data to understand the key features and characteristics of a market system or the impact a disaster could have on the market system.

Market-based programming or market-based intervention: Projects that work through or support local markets. It covers all types of engagement with market systems, ranging from actions to deliver a relief intervention to pro-actively strengthening and catalysing local market systems or market hubs.

Market chain: The market chain describes the core elements that determine demand and supply – or all the actors trading (or taking possession) of the goods and/or services within the market system – from the consumer to the primary producer or supplier.

Market system: Market system refers to all the players or actors, and their relationships with each other and with support or business services, as well as the enabling environment – or it can refer to the rules and norms that govern the way the system works. Market systems are interconnected when they share the same set of enabling environment / rules / norms and business / support services, for instance when they operate within one country.


Most of the world’s population relies on markets to cover at least a portion of its basic needs. Due to rapidly increasing urbanisation, the central role that markets play in people’s lives is likely to increase (in 2014, 54 percent of the world’s population lived in urban areas and this figure is expected to reach 66 percent by 2050, according to the United Nations, 2014).

In the humanitarian sector, market-based programming (MBP) is increasingly becoming a routine option, in large part due to the increased uptake of cash transfer programming (CTP) across sectors. As a result, humanitarian organisations have progressively focused on understanding markets to determine the most appropriate response and assistance modality (Maxwell, D. et al, 2013).

Humanitarian organisations are recognising both their role as market actors and the importance of the impact they can have on markets, especially for the crisis-affected population with whom they are working. Humanitarian responses, delivered either through CTP or in-kind, should be market-sensitive, and protect livelihoods, local jobs and businesses. They can even support markets, bridging the gaps between short-term relief interventions and medium- to long-term market development initiatives. To do so, humanitarian responses need to be informed by proper market assessment and analysis, starting at the design stage. Market analysis should hence be considered to be a key element of response analysis (“response analysis involves the selection of programme response options, modalities and target groups,” Sivakumaran, 2011).

Market analysis supports the design of MBP, as captured in Figure 2. MBP can include:

  • Using the market to deliver a programme;

  • Supporting the market so it can better serve the population;

  • Supporting the market environment to improve the functionality of, and access to, the market system; and

  • Supporting the market’s services and infrastructure.

MBP can be implemented pre- or post-crisis, from the first phase of an emergency to the early recovery stage. MBP is not a sector as such, but rather a cross-cutting approach that consists of working through or supporting market actors, service providers and/or infrastructure to improve the situation of disaster-affected populations.

Figure 2: Market based programming: Working through or supporting the local market to help crisis-prone and affected populations cope with emergencies.

The MISMA supports the design of all forms of MBP, across all sectors and across delivery modalities.

The MISMA: a Humanitarian Standards partner

The MISMA forms part of the Humanitarian Standards Partnership (HSP). The HSP, which grew out of the Sphere Companionship model, promotes complementarily and coherence among technical standards. It draws together the ‘why’, ‘how’ and ‘what’ of humanitarian work, and encompasses:

  • the Humanitarian Charter, providing the ethical and legal backdrop to humanitarian response;

  • the Protection Principles, which set out how to protect people from violence, avoid causing harm, ensure access to impartial assistance and assist with recovery from abuse;

  • the Core Humanitarian Standard, which describes the essential elements of accountable, effective and high-quality humanitarian action; and

  • the Minimum Standards, which provide universal benchmarks for assistance in shelter and settlement; water, sanitation and hygiene promotion; food security and nutrition; health; education; child protection; age and disability inclusion; livestock; economic recovery and market analysis.

The MISMA establishes the standard that must be met in any market analysis exercise to ensure the quality of humanitarian response and associated contingency plans. This means assisting disaster-affected populations to meet their basic needs and recover with dignity while using and supporting local markets as an engine of that recovery.

As with the Sphere Standards, the MISMA is built upon evidence and expert opinions. It represents a consensus on best practices in humanitarian response.

The MISMA links directly to the Sphere Appendix ‘Delivering assistance through markets’. It is also reference in relevant technical standards across the Sphere handbook. Market analysis should aim to identify appropriate and effective MBP. Programmes using and supporting markets should be designed with a focus on how to ensure people have access to the markets that are critical to meeting their basic needs. The MISMA is built on the principle that market analysis should have a large scope that is not limited to a particular choice of assistance modality. Market analysis should aim to trigger a wide range of programming options, both using and supporting the market. Such analysis should be used across sectors and delivery modalities. At the very least, market analysis should prevent responses from causing harm to local markets and market actors.

Furthermore, the MISMA mirrors the Core Humanitarian Standards, as it places affected communities at the heart of market analysis. Under the MISMA, market analyses should aim to understand how communities access and interact with markets, as opposed to solely focusing on market functionality.


Market analysis is a key component of response analysis that informs the design and implementation of appropriate interventions using and supporting local markets.

Due to the multi-sectoral nature of market analysis, the five MISMA key actions are applicable across all the technical sectors captured under the HSP, as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: The Humanitarian Standards Partnership

The market assessment standards of the Minimum Standards for Economic Recovery (MERS), also a Humanitarian Standards Partner, especially resonate with the MISMA. Both are built on the principle that market analysis should increase the quality of response and limit potential harm. The primary content of both sets of standards is aligned, with the main difference being that the MISMA is intended to be used by humanitarian practitioners across sectors in an emergency, whereas the MERS goes into greater detail regarding the implementation of economic recovery activities, and includes household economies and broader economic constraints within market analysis. However, both can be used across the spectrum from preparedness to early recovery. When designing market-based responses that aim at livelihoods and enterprise support, job creation or financial services, practitioners should use the corresponding MERS chapters as guiding standards in addition to the MISMA.

Purpose and scope

With the growing recognition of the importance of market analysis in the humanitarian sector, a plethora of tools and guidance has been developed to support such exercises. While this has provided an opportunity to reflect on the evolution of the practice, it has also left practitioners wondering which tools to choose and what makes a good quality market analysis.

The objective of the MISMA is therefore to guide the work of humanitarian practitioners across sectors and to ensure that, irrespective of the tool used, the key standard of market analysis is being met. By supporting high-quality market analysis, the MISMA intends to contribute to improving response analysis and programme implementation. The MISMA covers five key actions to ensure the quality of market analysis.

The MISMA is a market-specific standard and does not comprehensively cover response analysis, design and implementation (for which users should refer to other humanitarian standards). While this document provides practical steps and guidance on what needs to be done, it is not a ‘how to’ tool and therefore does not provide users with a step-by-step process for conducting market assessment and analysis.

The MISMA is based on The Minimum Requirements for Market Analysis in Emergencies, (Austin, L. & Chessex, S., CaLP 2013) and builds on CaLP research in market analysis (Sivakumaran, S. 2011).

Target audience

The MISMA is intended for humanitarian practitioners that are considering using market analysis exercises in various sectors and/or for multi-sectoral use. It has been developed and revised in such a way that it is accessible to and relevant for non-market specialist field practitioners across sectors who already possess assessment and analytical skills.

How to use the MISMA

The MISMA is one standard, supported by five key actions, key indicators and guidance notes:

  • The key actions must be implemented to help meet the standard. They consist of steps to support the implementation of the action. As market analysis is iterative by nature, the order in which the key actions are presented does not follow a strict sequence.

  • The key indicators are to be used as ‘signals’ that show whether the key action has been completed. They provide a way of measuring and communicating the processes and results of key actions.

  • The guidance notes include specific points to consider when carrying out the key actions in different situations, types of crises and various market systems. They provide guidance on tackling practical difficulties, benchmarks or advice on important issues. They may also include critical issues relating to the actions or indicators, describing dilemmas, controversies or gaps in current knowledge. These should be read alongside the practical steps and key indicators.

When to use the MISMA

Market analysis should be part of response analysis irrespective of the envisioned response assistance modality. The MISMA is applicable to market analysis exercises informing responses that address needs in various sectors.

The MISMA is designed for use in disaster contexts and is applicable to both man-made and natural disasters, rapid- and slow-onset situations, and rural and urban environments. Aligned with the Sphere definition of humanitarian response, the MISMA is relevant to responses all along the MBP framework (Figure 2), from immediate relief to disaster preparedness and early recovery. When looking at economic recovery more broadly, for example dealing with financial services or labour markets, the MISMA should be used in conjunction with the MERS.

The MISMA is applicable in conjunction with crisis-related market analysis tools or approaches, whether in post- or pre-crisis situations. These include, but are not limited to:

Conforming with the MISMA

The MISMA is a voluntary and self-regulatory standard. As with the Sphere Standards, complying with the MISMA does not mean implementing all of the key actions and meeting the key indicators at all times.

Difficulties accessing the affected populations or market places, lack of cooperation from the authorities or traders, and/or the lack of infrastructure or services to ensure the feasibility of the most appropriate response option can sometimes make standards impossible to meet. What is appropriate and feasible depends on the context. It may not always be possible to implement and use the results of a market analysis to trigger market support interventions.

For cases in which the standard cannot be met, the MISMA recommends the same approach as the Sphere Standards. Humanitarian agencies should:

  • Describe in their market assessment reports, or alternatively in their situation analysis documents, the gap between the relevant indicators and the ones achieved in practice;

  • Explain the reasons for this and what needs to be changed;

  • Assess the negative implications for the local markets and affected population; and

  • Take appropriate mitigating actions to minimise the harm caused by these implications.

By committing to the above steps, agencies can demonstrate that they are conforming with the philosophy of Sphere and the MISMA, even if they are unable to meet the standards set out in this document.

Dissemination and communication

The timely dissemination and communication of an evidence-based market analysis report is a key element of the market analysis process. It should be communicated both internally within organisations and externally to other parties who may be interested in, or affected by, the analysis results. This is a critical step that should be planned from the start of an intervention to ensure that end users and decision-makers are aware of the analysis and its implications for programming, and are able to act upon the information.

Depending on the scope of a market analysis, in-country coordination platforms such as the clusters, the Cash Working Group, or the inter-cluster mechanisms can be used to share market analysis information. In addition, the Markets in Crisis online Library and the Emergency Mapping and Analysis website provide sharing platforms on a global level.

Appropriate communication and dissemination should stimulate the design of a broad range of programmes that both use and support markets.