Contingency planning

Contingency planning means preparing an organization to be ready to respond effectively in the event of an emergency. It is an important part of the IFRC's work supporting National Society preparedness . Time spent in contingency planning equals time saved when a disaster strikes.

What is contingency planning?

Contingency planning is a management tool that involves all parts of an organization. It can help ensure timely and effective humanitarian aid to those who need it most.

Making a contingency plan involves making various decisions as an organization before an emergency happens. These decisions range from how to manage human and financial resources, how to best coordinate internally and with partners, and what communications procedures to put in place. 

The contingency planning process can be broken down into three simple questions: What is going to happen? What are we going to do about it? What can we do ahead of time to get prepared?

It is often used when there is a specific threat or hazard which is likely to impact an organization. But it is also important to consider less likely scenarios and develop contingency plans accordingly.

Contingency planning must be a collaborative effort. And plans must be linked to the plans, systems and processes of governments, partners and other members of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

Guidance and tools

Contingency planning guide, contingency planning vs business continuity planning.

Contingency planning and business continuity planning are related but have different purposes.

Business continuity planning is an organizational tool to ensure that an organization's systems can continue to function during times of crisis. A good business continuity plan ensures an organization can continue to operate their essential services.

If you are from a Red Cross or Red Crescent Society, you can get support with business continuity via our Help Desk on the Global Disaster Preparedness Website.

Watch: Contingency and business continuity planning

contingency plan for natural disasters

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Natural Disaster Risk Management Plan for Businesses

Business risk management after natural disaster: strategies and resources for business leaders.

A natural disaster can have devastating effects on your business operations, your employees, and the local community at large. As such, it is prudent for any business leader to have plans in place to manage their affairs and perhaps even serve their community in the event of such a crisis. What natural disasters you should prepare for will depend on factors such as the geographical area you are located in and what type of operations your business runs. However, at the bare minimum, you should have a generalized plan of action to address your business interests in the event of a large-scale emergency.

  • A Business’s Role in the Community Following a Natural Disaster

Businesses play many important roles in their communities, circulating money and resources into the local economy, affecting local culture, and influencing the quality of life of their employees. Depending on the type of business, they may even play many more roles in their community. For example, a library can serve as an educational resource center as well as an option for shelter.

Businesses can also choose to go above and beyond their natural role in the community, and choosing to do so can be especially valuable in times of crisis. It is not only a matter of moral obligation; it is also often a smart business move. Businesses that are seen to generously help their communities in times of need may be viewed more positively by the community, while those that choose not to may take some blows to their reputation. Furthermore, damage to the community often results in damage to businesses within the community, due to factors such as economic hardship of residents.

How your business can help the community will depend on the circumstances. If you are a food supplier, it could be helpful to donate food. If you employ affected locals, you could donate to help them recover. If you have a physical location, you could offer your offices as shelter. It is important, however, that your efforts genuinely help the community, and are not simply token gestures, as a half-hearted effort will be hardly more beneficial than no effort at all.

Planning Stages

Your strategy for dealing with a natural disaster will depend on your unique business operations, assets, and needs. However, there are some core stages that every business should address when developing a natural disaster preparedness plan.

  • Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

Before you begin building the plan itself, you will first need to conduct a business impact analysis. A BIA seeks to anticipate the effects of various scenarios on a business, such as loss of sales or increased expenses in the event of a natural disaster. This will give you the foundational data you need to build your natural disaster preparedness plan. There are many ways to conduct a business impact analysis, but a good place to start is a simple BIA questionnaire . A BIA will of course be a greater challenge for larger businesses with more complex operations, as they will need to consider more factors and consult a wider range of insiders for necessary information.

  • Contingency Plans

A contingency plan is a plan for what to do for the duration of an unusual event, such as a natural disaster. This plan will involve steps that will be taken if the event comes to pass, as well as allocate resources for that possibility. Examples of contingency plans include:

  • Planning of evacuation routes;
  • Installation of emergency equipment;
  • Investment in backup power sources;
  • Planning for adjusted operations in the event of loss of workforce;
  • Insurance that covers potential loss of or damage to inventory or property;
  • Developing remote work options in case the physical location is compromised.
  • Continuity Plans

A continuity plan is a plan that accounts for actions that need to be taken for a business to resume operations as efficiently as possible following an unusual event. Examples of continuity plan measures include:

  • Allocating additional funds for things like emergency PTO, repairs, and stock replenishment;
  • Building relationships with a variety of other businesses and suppliers to speed the recovery of supply and business operations;
  • Developing remote work options in case the physical location remains compromised;
  • Preparing alternate transportation for goods.
  • Further Reading

Resources that can further benefit business leaders outlining emergency preparedness plans include:

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA): This is a comprehensive continuity planning guide published by FEMA.
  • : This is a worksheet published by the U.S. government to help businesses plan continuity resources.
  • AP News : This is an overview of natural disaster insurance options that your business may benefit from considering.
  • GitLab : This page provides advice for adjusting business operations to remote channels as an emergency response option.

IT Disaster Recovery Plan

An IT disaster recovery plan will anticipate the potential for loss or breach of information during a disaster, and employ strategies to prevent and respond to these possibilities. Potential measures that may be included as part of an IT disaster recovery plan include:

  • Regularly updating software;
  • Creating backups for data;
  • Employing a third-party storage system;
  • Employing a third-party security system;
  • Conducting regular cybersecurity audits.
  • Incident Management

Incident management is the process by which an IT team strives to return the functions of their systems to normal as quickly as possible. This can be achieved via the following measures:

  • Anticipation of service losses;
  • Creation of channels for user reporting;
  • Solution analysis;
  • Employment of automatic incident notifications;
  • Creation of an escalation strategy;
  • Halting regular operations until full confidence in IT systems has been restored.
  • Crisis Communications Plan

In the event of a natural disaster, a business should ideally be prepared to provide information and updates to interested parties such as consumers, stakeholders, employees, community members, and government officials. This information could include anything from a timeline for the expected return of access to services to an inventory of lost products. Some measures that may be included in a crisis communications plan include:

  • Identifying your crisis communications team;
  • Investing in spokesman training for your crisis communications team;
  • Setting up a notifications system;
  • Preparing holding statements;
  • Offering easy access to your notifications system and contact information.
  • Employee Assistance and Support

In the event of a natural disaster, your employees could be negatively impacted in a wide variety of ways, including loss of work hours, loss of personal property, and emotional trauma. By taking care of your employees during this crisis, you will potentially allow them to better do their jobs in the long run, earn loyalty from your employees, and demonstrate ethical business operations to the public. Options for supporting your employees during a natural disaster include:

  • Providing transportation;
  • Providing direct financial assistance;
  • Offering remote work options;
  • Expanding flexibility for work hours;
  • Offering additional PTO;
  • Expanding access to medical care;
  • Expanding access to counseling;
  • Offering care packages;
  • Offering your premises as an avenue for sheltering in place.
  • Hazard Mitigation

Hazard mitigation refers to steps taken to eliminate hazards or reduce the damage caused by them, especially in a specific scenario such as a natural disaster. Hazard mitigation measures for a business may include steps such as:

  • Structural improvements;
  • Adjustments based on professional hazard audits;
  • Accessibility updates;
  • Employee training for emergency response;
  • On-premises adjustments based on government recommendations for natural disaster hazard prevention.
  • Risk Prioritization

Risk prioritization is important because it allows you to determine how much of your resource pool should reasonably be dedicated to each potential risk. For example, a business in California would be wise to allocate a significant portion of their resource pool towards earthquake response, but likely will not substantially benefit from hurricane preparations. In contrast, a business in Florida should likely invest in a hurricane response plan, but likely will not substantially benefit from earthquake preparations.

As another example, a bank would be wise to invest heavily in IT disaster recovery plans while carrying few physical products that they would need to worry about being damaged. Meanwhile, a small furniture store would not need to worry as much about IT disaster recovery options, but would be wise to take steps to protect their physical inventory.

In short, while it is a good idea to cover your bases, you should prioritize risk based on likelihood, as well as the impact that it would have on your business. Deploying data analysis systems to consider environmental, health, and safety risks can provide a structured view of risks and how they should be prioritized for any business.

  • Risk Management

A risk management plan identifies, analyzes, prioritizes, and monitors risks, and establishes protocols to address these risks if the occasion arises. A risk management plan should be a living document that reassesses risks, provides dynamic data analytics , and adjusts the prescribed strategies on an ongoing basis. To develop an effective risk management plan for natural disasters, you should take the following steps:

  • Designate a risk management team ;
  • Identify risks;
  • Prioritize risks;
  • Determine who would be impacted by the event;
  • Acquire and deploy risk management information systems and risk analytics software for processing and managing data on an ongoing basis;
  • Analyze relevant data continuously to ensure all processes and plans are up to date and appropriate;
  • Anticipate potential losses;
  • Create an easily accessible document outlining the plan;
  • Clearly outline each risk, the potential damages associated with each risk, the protocols meant to prevent that risk, and the protocols for responding to that risk;
  • Regularly reassess and update your risk management plan.
  • Business Insurance Coverage and Natural Disaster Assistance Resources

Resources related to business insurance coverage and emergency assistance include:

  • FEMA Disaster Assistance : This is a resource for finding government-sponsored disaster assistance.
  • >SBA Disaster Assistance Loans : This is a guide to applying for an SBA disaster assistance loan.
  • Tax Relief : This IRS resource discusses tax relief options related to natural disasters.
  • Claims Management Software : This software can help you manage insurance claims.
  • General Resources for Developing a Natural Disaster Plan for Your Business

Resources that can help you develop your business’s natural disaster plan include:

  • (Resource Management) : This page discusses how you can identify and manage your business resources as part of your emergency response plan.
  • (Emergency Response Toolkits) : This is a compilation of bite-sized “toolkits” for various situations related to business emergency preparedness.
  • (Emergency Response Outline) : This is a template you can use to develop your emergency response plan.
  • (Social Media) : This is a guide for handling your business’s social media presence during an emergency.
  • Resources for Natural Disaster Risk Assessment

Resources that can help you conduct risk assessments related to the potential impact of natural disasters on your business include:

  • Risk Assessment Guide : This is a risk assessment guide sponsored by the federal government.
  • Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development : This is a comprehensive guide for disaster risk assessment and risk financing.
  • Risk Assessment Sample : This is an example risk assessment outline.
  • How to Perform a Simple Business Risk Assessment : This is a guide to conducting a simple business risk assessment.

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Prioritize employee safety through disaster contingency planning

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Disaster strikes without warning and can leave employees confused and lost. Anticipating emergencies prevents this. Disaster contingency planning gives them clear instructions and an idea of how to react to sudden situations. If you’re concerned about making their safety a priority, consider planning ahead.

What disasters do you prepare for?

A disaster contingency plan anticipates and prepares for workplace emergencies that are natural or artificial. Even though you can’t predict when disasters will happen, it’s possible to plan for them.

There are two types of disasters you can prepare for:

  • Natural disasters: Nature causes these disasters. They include floods, earthquakes, fires, outbreaks of disease or tornadoes.
  • Man-made disasters: Humans cause these disasters by accident or on purpose.. These include chemical spills, explosions, biological threats or cyber-attacks.

These kinds of disasters always happen, so prepare for both to be safe. You can tell how likely a disaster is by looking at your location, the season, history and any current events. 

Start by looking at the location of the organization. Depending on where it's located, some disasters are more likely. For example, consider preparing for floods if you work in an area close to the ocean. Similarly, you wouldn’t prioritize cold weather threats if you're in an area with only high temperatures. Still, it’s best to prepare for everything to stay ahead.

How do disaster contingency plans help?

Since events happen randomly, unprepared people might panic in response. To prevent this, have a disaster contingency plan. These keep employees informed on the best way to react to dangerous situations. 

Preparing for everything is best. Extra planning takes effort, but natural disasters need individual emergency plans because you'll uniquely respond to each. For example, a tornado forces you to stay in the building, while fire forces you to evacuate. So, consider one for each event instead of having one evacuation plan.

Disaster contingency plans protect the organization and employees:

  • Protect against injury: Informed employees know the safest way to react to disasters.
  • Provide safe spaces: Some disasters might force you out of your building. Anticipating this allows you to continue work at a secure location seamlessly.
  • Allows security: If you’re prepared, you can provide employees with protection ahead of time.
  • Ensures a good response: With planning, employees will react to disasters calmly and in a timely manner.

The safety of employees is a top priority. Preparing for an emergency will only positively impact you. Beyond that, you probably are required to. Even if the organization isn’t located in zones prone to natural disasters, OSHA requires companies with 10 or more employees to have written emergency plans.

Prepare for the worst

Preparing for disasters keeps your employees safe. Storms — including hurricanes — are becoming more dangerous as time goes on. This means things you may not consider risks should be accounted for. It’s better to be overprepared than underprepared. 

In addition, some disasters may strike in unexpected places. Take Texas, for example. For nearly a week after December 25, 2022, most of the state was below freezing and experienced frigid conditions. The temperatures were typically high there, so many people had no experience with severe winter weather. 

Because people assumed they didn’t have to plan for the cold, many were in dangerous situations with no resources. Even if the chances are low, anticipate the worst scenario to be ready. To emphasize the contingency plan, post signs, evacuation routes and bulletins so employees can refresh themselves on the program whenever they want.

React accordingly

Disaster contingency planning allows employees to react calmly to emergency events. Prioritize their safety by adequately preparing them. To do so, make your plans unique. Each situation should have a specialized response. They should know whether to evacuate or shelter in place. 

Furthermore, they should be aware of the following steps after doing so. For example, if an explosion occurs at a nearby processing facility, your employees should know to stay in place and wait for an official response. 

Train them on the correct reactions and have regular meetings to check up. Also, running drills as part of your planning might be worth it if you’re in a disaster-prone area. Disasters can be frightening, but it is calming to know how to respond. 

Focus on recovery

After preparation and reaction, recovery is how to commit to employee safety. Sometimes, you won’t be able to get back to work after an emergency event. Flooding, fire, explosions or other disasters might make the building unusable. 

Also, it might be tough for employees to travel back. A proper disaster contingency plan includes steps to take after the initial event has passed. To start, the location should be easily accessible to employees. To prioritize their safety, they should only return to work if roads are clear and the building is structurally sound. 

Beyond that, cleanup is a large part of recovery. Imagine that employees return to work only to be met with a building soaked by floodwater. They should have a clean environment to work in if their safety is a priority. 

Additionally, disasters might cause further damage if you avoid cleanup. For example, flood damage that isn’t taken care of causes mold damage. You can protect a building against issues like this with planning. Make sure crews clean up all damage and remove potential hazards. If the damage is severe, keep your employees safe by having them work at an alternate space until cleanup crews fix things. 

Prepare to protect

Proper planning anticipates disasters to keep employees safe. You may never need to use some of your contingency plans, but they’re still necessary since emergencies happen unpredictably. Preparing, reacting and recovering according to plan prioritizes everyone’s safety.

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About Migration

The Emergency Response Preparedness (ERP) approach is a practical, flexible, responsive and resource-light system for understanding and preparing for potential emergencies. Focusing on large-scale emergencies with multiple actors, the ERP enables readiness for an immediate in-country response by the broader humanitarian community and in conjunction with national action, vital in dealing with an unfolding emergency. With a strong base in planning, readiness and knowledge and understanding of risks, ERP is a guide to preparing for both slow- and sudden-onset crises (other than refugee crises). The ERC package provides practical guidance to assists Resident/Humanitarian Coordinators and humanitarian country teams in preparing to respond to potential emergencies with appropriate humanitarian assistance and protection. One of its elements is the Advanced Preparedness Actions and Contingency Planning: complementary activities initiated concurrently to plan for perceived high-risk situations. Advanced Preparedness Actions are risk-specific and increase readiness in response to early warning, whilst a Contingency Plan sets out a needs-specific strategy for the first days of an unfolding emergency. Annex 7 of the ERP guidelines includes a Contingency Plan template (including key questions) and an example of a Contingency Plan. ... (p. 28-33) ...

To protect migrants, States, private sector actors, international organizations, and civil society need to understand risks and exposure to crises in regions, countries, and localities. They also need to understand the ways in which crises can affect people, including migrants, and their assets. The period before the onset of a full-scale conflict or natural disaster is a critical time to undertake efforts to protect and assist people, including migrants, and to secure essential resources and infrastructure.

Not all conflicts and natural disasters are entirely unpredictable. Conflicts may be preceded by various signs, including protests, xenophobic violence, and civil unrest. Local actors, close to the source of an impending conflict, and with the experience to interpret signs and events, may often possess the most timely and accurate information. They can be an important source of knowledge for others.

Understanding regional, national, and local natural disaster risks and overlaying this information with information on the location and characteristics of migrants can inform preparation and response efforts. As in conflict situations, local sources of knowledge may also be important. While many natural disasters occur with great immediacy, different regions, countries, and localities are prone to specific types of natural disasters. Those related to weather events often occur with some forewarning. Some are cyclical and recurrent and the warning signs will be familiar to those who have experienced them before. A number of early warning systems exist to forecast and monitor natural disasters and alert stakeholders and communities of impending crises.

Sample Practices

  • Early warning systems for natural disasters adapted and tested to reach migrants in multiple languages.
  • Assessments to understand the potential effects of natural disasters on migrant communities and their assets.
  • Inclusion of migrant characteristics in disaster vulnerability assessments by analyzing how factors, such as immigration status, language proficiency, or gender reduce access to information, resources, or protection.
  • Community-based risk assessments that engage migrants in the identification of natural disasters, vulnerability, and capacities.
  • Inclusion of migrants’ presence and vulnerability in early warning and early action mechanisms.
  • Structures to share information on developing civil unrest or conflict.

To protect migrants when conflicts or natural disasters erupt, States, private sector actors, international organizations, and civil society need information about migrant populations. Aggregated data on the municipal, national, regional, and international scale of migration and the demographics of migrants, such as gender, age, and nationality, enable stakeholders to understand the nature and scope of needs in the case of a crisis. Local-level migrant community profiles help stakeholders target responses. Some stakeholders collect detailed information on the location of migrants, how to contact individual migrants, emergency and family contacts, and specific vulnerability and needs. Recruitment and placement agencies collect information on the location and situation of labor migrants they deploy to other States and can be a useful source of information.

Migrants play a key role in sharing and updating their information to enable stakeholders to contact and assist them in the event of a conflict or natural disaster. That said, migrants in an irregular immigration status in particular may have reservations about putting themselves at risk by becoming more ‘visible’ and sharing contact and other information with stakeholders, especially State authorities. Such migrants are also more likely to be highly mobile and move from one temporary residence to another. Efforts to collect and share aggregated information on migrants in an irregular situation should address these barriers. Engaging civil society can help mitigate such challenges.

In cases where States, private sector actors, international organizations, and civil society collect personal data, they should respect privacy rights and confidentiality with a view to ensuring the safety and security of the migrants (and where relevant, other stakeholders) on whom they collect and share information. In collecting and handling information containing migrants’ personal details, stakeholders need to act in accordance with applicable law and standards on individual data protection and privacy. Stakeholders should also ensure informed consent. Stakeholders can adopt clear guidelines that define the type of personal data to be collected and the ways in which such data will be handled, including circumstances in which data can be shared.

  • Registration systems for citizens abroad that enable States of origin (or family, community, or civil society, where practical and appropriate) to contact migrants in the event of a crisis and provide them with information on the crisis and available assistance.
  • Measures to encourage citizens to register, such as user-friendly, online registration systems that highlight the benefits and services that become available through registration.
  • Host State registration systems to collect information on migrants upon arrival.
  • Aggregated data and research on migration trends and demographics, including the purpose and routes of migration and nature and characteristics of migrants.
  • Information on migrant community profiles, migrant networks, and focal points.
  • Databases of migrant workers that include information on accompanying family members.

States and other stakeholders have laws, policies, and programs on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response to reduce the impact of crises. Taking into account the presence of migrants, their vulnerabilities, and their potential needs in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response frameworks, including on disaster risk reduction (DRR), can promote resilience in the event of a conflict or natural disaster. Clear laws and policies on migrants’ eligibility for different types of assistance in the event of a crisis promote certainty. If the presence of migrants is not known or is inadequately incorporated in planning, stakeholders may overlook migrants in their responses. If stakeholders fail to appreciate factors that make migrants vulnerable, such as language barriers, isolated working conditions, irregular immigration status, or mistrust of authorities, responses may be ineffective. When laws and policies are unclear, responses towards migrants can be unpredictable and insufficient.

Migrants themselves and civil society may be in the best position to assist States and other stakeholders to appreciate the presence of migrants, their vulnerability, and needs. In this respect, involving migrants and civil society in the development of prevention, preparedness, and emergency response measures can be helpful. Such actions also build trust between migrant populations and State and non-State actors who provide protection.

Migrants and civil society also have capacities and resources that they can contribute to preparedness and emergency response. Their language abilities, first-hand knowledge of migrant populations, understanding of cultural norms within their communities, and ability to foster greater trust toward State authorities and other actors can be leveraged to create more comprehensive and effective systems and programs.

  • Platforms to facilitate the engagement of migrants in the design and implementation of prevention, preparedness, and emergency response systems.
  • Taking migrants into account in national and local frameworks on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response, including by recognizing migrants as a specific group with needs and capacities.
  • Recruitment of migrants as staff or volunteers in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response mechanisms.

States, employers, recruiters and placement agencies, international organizations, and civil society have contingency plans and procedures to react to and mitigate the risks associated with crises. Many States of origin have contingency plans to assist their citizens abroad. If contingency plans do not exist, they should be developed during the pre-crisis phase to provide sufficient time to consider and test options.

Contingency plans should take into account and integrate migrants’ presence, potential needs, and capacities. Plans should anticipate migrants’ requirements for relocation, evacuation, communication, emergency shelter, food and non-food relief, health care, and psychosocial support. Plans should address ways to identify and respond to the needs of particularly vulnerable populations, such as migrant children, including unaccompanied and separated children, children of migrants in an irregular immigration status, migrant victims of trafficking, elderly migrants, and migrants with disabilities. Plans should also address the protection of migrants in detention. Contingency plans should be flexible, actionable, clear, and adapted to relevant regional, national, and local dynamics.

Involving migrants and civil society in the preparation of contingency plans can be particularly useful. Migrants and civil society can identify circumstances where targeted approaches are necessary to address the specific needs of migrants, such as language requirements. Employers and recruitment and placement agencies should be involved in contingency plans for migrant workers and their families.

Regularly updating and testing contingency plans can also be helpful to identify gaps and weaknesses in actions towards migrants and to ensure those charged with protecting migrants have the authority and capacity to do so. Joint contingency planning between emergency response actors and those working primarily with migrant populations can facilitate resource sharing and common understanding of risks, migrant populations, and local infrastructure. Contingency plans can include a crisis management structure that identifies responsibilities of different actors.

  • Multi-stakeholder contingency plans to share resources and capacities to assist migrants, including by undertaking multi-stakeholder asset mapping exercises.
  • Crisis alert systems that monitor crises in host States and direct authorities to act based on the intensity of the crisis, such as obligation to evacuate migrants.
  • Evacuation plans that set out clear rules and criteria for carrying out evacuations, such as document requirements and eligibility for evacuation.
  • Emergency drills involving migrants to test contingency plans and identify obstacles and challenges.
  • Inter-agency contingency plans that take into account migrants’ potential needs in crises.

States, private sector actors, international organizations, and civil society often work with fewer resources than required. Each of these stakeholders has unique skills, resources, and strengths. Working together to build partnerships, entering into agreements, and establishing routine coordination improves collective responses towards migrants, and prevents duplication of efforts. Such arrangements are best entered into before the next conflict or natural disaster, when stakeholders have the opportunity to anticipate challenges and leverage unique skills and strengths. Joint planning and coordination maximizes resources, improves the effectiveness of responses, and fosters trust between stakeholders. Involving migrants and civil society, who have first-hand knowledge of the specific needs and challenges faced by migrants, can improve the effectiveness of efforts to protect migrants in countries experiencing crises, including at the local, national, regional, or international levels.

These arrangements may relate to a range of activities relevant to the needs of migrants during the emergency phase and its aftermath—from collection of data to information sharing, consular services to identity assessments, awareness-raising to strategic communication plans, provision of humanitarian relief and services to referral systems, capacity-building to evacuation and reintegration assistance, and much more. This may include coordination and information sharing among anti-trafficking experts and humanitarian assistance providers to ensure screening for trafficking and referral to appropriate services. Additionally, by developing systems to identify refugees, asylum-seekers, and stateless persons, States can better ensure that these persons are appropriately referred to the available refugee and other protection mechanisms.

Stakeholders can often arrange in advance key services and resources that will be in high demand when a crisis hits, including transportation, shelter, food, health care, and timely and accurate information. Establishing and maintaining clear channels of communication between consular posts and relevant agencies of the host State is important. Such channels of communication could prove critical during crisis situations.

Pre-arranged agreements among stakeholders, such as agreements between States and international organizations for identity verification, shared use of assets, family tracing, and deployment of experts and humanitarian personnel. Multi-stakeholder agreements for relocation and evacuation that set out roles and responsibilities of partners and provide guidance on allocation of costs. Cross-border cooperation on crisis preparedness, taking into account particular needs of migrants, especially at a local level for communities that straddle borders. Reciprocal consular assistance and representation agreements to address gaps in situations where States do not have a diplomatic or consular presence in a country or have limited capacity

Limited resources, funding, and technical skills can all affect the robustness of emergency and post-crisis responses. Understanding and assessing these limitations is a critical first step towards overcoming them. Stakeholders’ investment in their own capacity to improve emergency response and post-crisis recovery for migrants is critical.

Capacity building may relate to such varied areas as consular services, training for responders, resource allocation, funding mechanisms, insurance schemes, relief goods and services, border and migration management, and relocation and evacuation. Many of these areas are relevant for both the emergency and post-crisis phases. Stakeholders should also consider addressing potential reintegration challenges for migrants, their families, and communities, facilitating re-employment, income generation, and safe remigration, and supporting migrants to access outstanding wages, assets, and property left in host States.

States, private sector actors, international organizations, and civil society should assist one another to build and improve their capacity to respond. Undertaking advocacy, monitoring and evaluations, raising awareness, conducting training, sharing information, building research and knowledge, and supporting and learning from each other all help to improve collective efforts to protect migrants.

Training and capacity building of stakeholders, such as on effective ways to access migrants and identify vulnerability and needs. Dedicated funding to protect migrants, including budget lines, loans, and funding platforms. Referral mechanisms that map rosters of experts who can address diverse needs of different migrants. Peer-to-peer exchanges for capacity building and learning on tackling challenges associated with protecting migrants. Training for consular officials, such as on collecting information on citizens and crisis management, including evacuation. Monitoring and evaluation of crisis responses that includes analysis of responses towards migrants.

Certain stakeholders have mandates and unique skills to address the needs of different migrants. Referral procedures can help access these skills for those with particular needs.

Child migrants, for example, benefit from the assistance of actors versed in children’s rights and protection, including dedicated focal points in governments. Interventions targeted at domestic workers or victims of trafficking may benefit from the knowledge and experience of advocates and specialists on those populations. Civil society, such as migrant, grass roots, and faith-based actors, may be best placed to access migrants in an irregular immigration status. Consular officers and some international organizations may have the authority and capacity to assess identities and issue identity and travel documents. Host State local and national actors are often best placed to provide necessary services and international humanitarian actors should strive to provide assistance through local and national systems.

Stakeholders should establish referral procedures to ensure that those responding to the needs of migrants refer refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons to national and international protection mechanisms for those populations.

Identification and rapid assessment of migrants with specific needs who require referrals to services and assistance. Referral of refugees, asylum seekers, and stateless persons to relevant protection mechanisms. Deployment of experts to host States to identify, assess, and address needs of migrants. Referrals to international organizations and civil society with specialized experience assisting victims of trafficking, children, and other vulnerable migrants.

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Contingency planning

A management process that analyses disaster risks and establishes arrangements in advance to enable timely, effective and appropriate responses.

Annotation: Contingency planning results in organized and coordinated courses of action with clearly identified institutional roles and resources, information processes and operational arrangements for specific actors at times of need. Based on scenarios of possible emergency conditions or hazardous events, it allows key actors to envision, anticipate and solve problems that can arise during disasters. Contingency planning is an important part of overall preparedness. Contingency plans need to be regularly updated and exercised.

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General Objectives of a Disaster or Contingency Plan

The following is a list of general objectives departments should consider when creating an Information Disaster Prevention and Recovery Plan:

  • Ensure the safety of all employees and visitors at the site/facility
  • Protect vital information and records
  • Secure business sites and facilities
  • Safeguard and make available vital materials, supplies and equipment to ensure the safety and recovery of records from predictable disasters
  • Reduce the risk of disasters caused by human error, deliberate destruction, and building or equipment failures
  • Be better prepared to recover from a major natural catastrophe
  • Ensure the organization's ability to continue operating after a disaster
  • Recover lost or damaged records or information after a disaster

Plan Information

A sound understanding of the nature, scope, and limitations of a disaster plan ensures that management's expectations are realistic and the plan plays its proper role in achieving the department's overall goals and objectives.

An information disaster plan is a practical program of preventive steps and actions responding to potential and actual disasters. While each department must determine its own specific objectives, several main objectives are present in all plans. The plan should:

  • Identify and adequately protect the department's vital records (vital records program)
  • Reduce the risk of disasters caused by human error, deliberate destructiveness, and building or equipment failure, as well as, the adverse consequences of all disasters by mandating specific security, maintenance and training programs (disaster prevention)
  • Ensure the department's ability to effectively resume operations after a disaster by spelling out management policies, procedures, and resources to be activated in disaster situations (crisis management)
  • Ensure the department's ability to rapidly reconstruct essential information and salvage damaged records containing information essential to establishing detailed recovery procedures, and a management directive for implementation (disaster recovery)

An information disaster plan is a written, approved, implemented, and periodically tested program to identify, protect, reconstruct or salvage an organization's vital and historical records, and establishes procedures for the immediate resumption of business operations in the event of a disaster.

Reviewed 2019-08-05

  • Guide for Developing a Disaster Plan
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