Pre-crisis Market and Analysis (PCMA)

Date of Design: 
Released in 2014; Revised 2016
Oxfam; the International Rescue Committee (IRC)
Contact Institution: 
Pathway Component: 
Value Chains & Market Systems, Food Access, Food Expenditure, Food Prices, Non-food Expenditure

Content Summary

Brief Description: The PCMA guidance is a step-by-step resource to guide market analysis practitioners to conduct market assessments before emergencies happen in contexts that are prone to recurring crises. This early analysis helps practitioners to anticipate how certain selected ‘critical’ markets will behave if and when a shock occurs. PCMA is not a market analysis tool in itself but helps practitioners to use existing market assessment and analysis tools. It covers the existing income market systems and expenditure market systems that are already part of people’s livelihood and basic needs coverage, but not new market opportunities.

Uses: The PCMA document provides guidance on how to:

  • Prepare for a pre-crisis analysis: get organizational buy-in and encourage joint exercise; define the objectives; identify the crisis scenario; determine the scope of the assessment; select the market analysis tool to be used; and plan for the exercise. 
  • Conduct a market analysis to assess the extent to which marketplaces and specific market systems are functioning in a pre-crisis situation, using existing post-crisis tools –mainly EMMA and Rapid Assessment of Market (RAM).
  • Use the results of the pre-crisis analysis to inform the design of appropriate preparedness, relief and recovery responses, considering a range of marketbased interventions. 
  • Keep the analysis up to date by monitoring the markets and updating the crisis and reference maps.


Number of Staff Required: The guidance is targeted to the Market Focal Point within the agency or group of agencies conducting the analysis. The focal point will coordinate the full scope of the PCMA. Additionally, the team should include an Analysis Team Leader, one or more Market Team Leaders, and 2-5 Market team members. The guide includes information about each role.

Cost of Assessment: This will depend on the depth and scope of the assessment. There is a sample budget included in the guide to help with planning.

Training: Various training needs exist during the different stages. The guide provides detail about how long each step might take to train staff for and to carry out. There are sample terms of reference include in the guide to help with planning.

Geographic Targeting: The team will have to determine the geographic area where the organization will respond if a crisis occurs, and estimate who the target population will be that will most likely be affected.

Type of Data Collection: The assessment can be a “light touch assessment” or an “in-depth assessment.” A light touch will include qualitative information related to overall functionality of market economy, impact of intended humanitarian response on markets and market access, and market indicators that can be monitored to show if a crisis is unfolding. A more in-depth assessment includes quantitative data and provides information about relationships between market actors, capacity of market systems to cover population needs, and the relevance of pre-crisis measures to increase people’s access to market systems or to protect the systems against shocks.

Degree of Technical Difficulty: The PCMA tool is accessible to non-market-specialist field practitioners across sectors with existing assessment and analytical skills.

Complements other Resources: The PCMA is meant to complement post-crisis tools such as the EMMA, MIFIRA, RAM/MAG, 48-hour tool, and the WFP Trader Survey.

This summary is part of a larger resource called the Context Assessment Tool Locator.