Humanitarian Planning

Planning is crucial for an effective emergency response. Advance planning is ideal. However humanitarian emergencies don’t offer us the luxury of time for an advanced planning. However, it is important to draw as much information as possible, picking up inputs from those with local knowledge and humanitarian response will help minimize short comings in a rapid humanitarian response.

Planning should also include a very clear allocation of roles and responsibilities and very clear lines of command. The next important element in planning for humanitarian response is an operational mechanism to mobilize necessary resources for the decided length and depth of humanitarian response.  Different approaches and appropriate human resources mist be employed to mobilize resources from various levels of government, international donors, public and private charities and individual donors.

Logistics:  Establishment of emergency response centers in suitable locations, preparation and updating of inventory of stocks, establishment of radio, telephone and internet communication facilities wherever possible, development of financial, administration and accountability procedures, ensuring  consistent and safe transport facilities, safety and security of volunteers and resources are all among key logistics that should be part of a humanitarian response planning.

 Coordination: Humanitarian response will face fewer hurdles if the response plan is well informed about relevant local/country legislation/procedures and on the systems and procedures of enlisting local and international humanitarian assistance, if needed. Further, it is important to identify other key local, national and international actors with whom the humanitarian response will have to interface at various stages.  This interface can also be used for sharing and exchanging resources, capacities and concerns to optimize on the ability to provide comprehensive assistance to affected communities.

Developing and updating the data base of key contacts in the field and in other locations may seem a petty clerical task, but will prove to be a great resource for drawing necessary support at various stages of humanitarian assistance. The contacts should include the details of staff, volunteers, transporters, suppliers, service providers, governmental agencies, relevant diplomatic missions, international agencies and so on.  Review the documentation on the Tools and Services that OCHA can provide to support disaster response.

A clear term of reference must be developed in coordination mechanisms for sharing responsibilities, periodicity and locations of meetings and mechanism for implementing agreed actions. Humanitarian response plans must be regularly reviewed, updated and if necessary modified with very clear ears on the ground, eyes on the socio-political dynamics in the region and sensitivity to the local cultural processes. Similarly, it is very important to have a media strategy that designates appropriate spokes persons with clear understanding of the procedures and directions on what to say and what not to say at different stages of humanitarian response. A good media strategy will help receive constructive assistance from the media and avoids negative reporting.

Key Message: Planning is response. A good planning will help a humanitarian response reach the needy with right supplies, at a right time, in right manner and through right channels.

Disclaimer: This article is a reflection of author’s personal thoughts, and all rights reserved by SAFE CITIZEN.ORG

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