Planning & Implementation

5. Contingency plans

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Contingency plans are a set of pre-established procedures and measures adapted to your local context that guide staff in co-ordinating a rapid and effective response to specific incidents or situations. Contingency plans should be in place for foreseeable high-risk incidents and situations which:

  • are most likely to happen and will have significant impact on staff and operations.
  • need a lot of information and preparation to enable staff to respond.
  • require a quick coordinated response from different stakeholders.

Contingency plans are typically established for the relocation or evacuation of staff, natural disasters, health pandemics, and medical emergencies. 

Decisions to suspend programme activities, temporarily close an office, or withdraw staff may be made in advance of possible insecurity, such as during elections or anticipated periods of unrest, or in the event of a significant threat to staff or deterioration in the overall security situation. 

Not only are these measures disruptive to staff and programmes, but if not managed carefully they can also damage relations with communities and authorities, and ultimately your organisation’s reputation. 

To minimise the impact and ensure a safe and effective response, it is vital that detailed contingency plans are established in advance and understood by all staff. Such plans should explain the decision-making authority, specific roles and responsibilities, the criteria to determine which staff will be moved and when, and the logistical processes for evacuating, relocating and hibernating staff.

Key planning questions:

  • What could happen?
  • Who could be affected?
  • What is needed to respond?
  • Who needs to be informed?
  • Who makes what decisions?
  • What can be done to be better prepared?

In the event of serious injury or illness, staff may need immediate medical treatment. To facilitate a fast response, you must identify the local medical facilities, and their capacity, for the different locations in which staff are based. If local medical assistance is unavailable or inadequate, evacuation to a reliable medical facility in country, or in another country, may be necessary. This information should be captured in detailed medical emergency procedures and plans.

Resources & Tools