Contingency Action Plan
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A process, in anticipation of potential crises, of developing strategies,
arrangements and procedures to address the humanitarian needs of those
adversely affected by crises.
The output of the contingency planning process is the contingency plan. A
contingency plan is the synthesis of the discussions, analysis and, most importantly,
decisions made during the planning process. It is also a means of communicating these
ideas to people who may not have been involved in the planning process. Written
contingency plans also document, and in some cases formalise, commitments made
during the planning process.
At their simplest level, contingency plans answer some basic questions about a
potential situation. These include:
• What could happen?
• What would be needed to alleviate the situation?
• How would action be taken?
• What materials, supplies and staff would be needed?
• What preparation is necessary?
• How much will it cost?
Identifying And Assessing Contingencies
• Disaster contingency planning starts with considering the types of situations that can
disrupt the current scenarios in your county. Identifying and assessing common
disasters is essential for planning how to respond and minimize the effect.
• Identify the top five most probable problems that might occur regardless of whether
the event has ever actually occurred. Once these events are identified, the next step
involves developing an action plan specific to each emergency scenario and
establishing procedures to be followed.
• We will introduce some of the common risks and situations that may occur and
provides links to resources for additional information.
Natural Disasters And Severe Weather
• Thunderstorms and lightning
• Landslide and debris flow
• Extreme Heat
• Winter storms and extreme cold
Manmade Disasters And Other Risks
• Terrorist hazards
• Biological threat
• Chemical threat
• Technological and accidental hazards
• Hazardous materials incidents.
• Influenza pandemic
Key Elements Of A Contingency Plan
1. Response strategy:
Based on the scenarios a response strategy is developed, including
specific intervention objectives and targets, including beneficiary numbers. The
response strategy links the scenarios and the subsequent plans.
2. Implementation plan:
While the response strategy defines what is to be achieved, the
implementation plan defines how it is going to be achieved. Thus, the response
strategy defines appropriate interventions or programmes; the implementation plan
defines how these programmes will be implemented (e.g. using community-based
targeting and partnership with local governments) and the steps required (e.g.
emergency needs assessment and logistics).
3. Operational support plan:
The operational support plan sets out the administrative, logistical and
other support requirements of a response.
4. Preparedness plan:
Almost inevitably during the planning process, actions to improve
preparedness for both specific and general crises are identified. In some exercises,
these actions become the focus of planning efforts because they can have the biggest
potential impact on actual responses. The results of this process, often called
preparedness planning, are then consolidated into a preparedness plan.
Finally, a budget is developed, both for preparedness and for the actual
responses that have been planned.
Contingency Planning Processes
• The Linear Model:
In this process, the first step requires analysis of the hazards and risks faced by
a population, to develop a better appreciation of the types of situation that require
contingency planning. This is followed by a specific prioritisation of contingencies
(possible situations). For each of these contingencies, scenarios are developed, and
form the basis for a contingency plan. Finally, preparedness actions defined in the plan
are implemented, and the plan is periodically updated.
• The continuum model:
The continuum approach envisages
contingency planning as an ongoing
process that does not finish with the
activation of the emergency response.
Since the situation can evolve rapidly,
ongoing contingency planning helps
emergency managers anticipate and
prepare for different possibilities. As the
response moves towards recovery and the
support of durable solutions to the crisis,
contingency planning again helps
humanitarian actors anticipate and
prepare for the evolving situation. The
cycle is complete when lessons from the
response are incorporated back into the
contingency planning process, and it is
triggered again when early warning
mechanisms indicate the onset of the
When To Focus On Different Elements Of A
Sample Contingency Plan
Emergency Water For Refugees :
Conclusion & Challenges For The Future
Contingency planning can bring significant benefits to humanitarian response.
It helps identify and prioritise preparedness activities, and the process itself can be a
useful exercise in information preparedness. It also helps maintain and improve the
coordination mechanisms that are so important in an emergency. It can identify
indicators and help focus early warning efforts, while contingency plans linked to early
warning systems can help translate early warning into early action.
Contingency planning experts and practitioners see the benefits of the
contingency planning process, and it shows that humanitarian organisations have
made significant efforts to improve and mainstream contingency planning and
emergency preparedness. It has also identified some significant challenges, which need
to be addressed if further progress is to be made. With a view to contributing to this
process, some of the key challenges ahead, and makes recommendations for addressing