The purpose of this technical brief is to assist humanitarian workers in using secondary demographic data in emergencies. It recommends building a context specific demographic profile based on available information. It proposes some rule-of-thumb standards, which can be adapted to the local context, tailoring to the purpose and the time available.

The document provides: 1. Long term guidance sheets (if you have a few days): identifying demographic ‘mega trends’, and possible interactions with disaster risk, impact and response. This broader perspective is essential for interpreting data in emergencies, and as input for longer term strategy (e.g. CAP orSRP) 2. Short term quick start (if you have an hour):accessing demographic data for immediate operational needs in a specific emergency,such as input in a flash appeal (e.g. within24-48 hours).Clearly, this supplements, rather than replaces,the need for primary data, but is intended to be helpful in preparing for large scale primary data collection, and in triangulating the results 3.This brief attempts only to sketch the overall dimensions. There is a large body of evidence especially on mortality in disasters, but little on other aspects, e.g. fertility (UN 2011). This is despite the fact that demography is particularly interactive – change one dimension and all the other dimensions are also likely to change.