Contingency planning can be defined as a forward planning process in a state of uncertainty in which scenarios and objectives are agreed, and potential response systems put in place to respond to an emergency. Most offices routinely conduct contingency planning for humanitarian emergencies, such as mass influx, spontaneous repatriation and outbreak of disease. The same processes can and should be applied to planning for security-related contingencies. General considerations include:
- Contingency planning begins with the question, “what if?” In the case of security-related contingency planning, it usually focuses on the three or four events identified by your SRA as entailing the highest risk (that is, greatest impact, likelihood, or combination of the two), e.g. armed attack, violent demonstrations, bombing, intruders, fire, natural disasters and others.
- The next step is to ask “what then?” What consequences would this event pose for your office or program if it actually happened? Specific questions to ask:
-What actions would have to be taken? Try to identify standard procedures to follow if it occurred. Can any steps be taken now to reduce response time in an emergency?
– “Who will do what? Assign likely roles/responsibilities; identify coordination mechanisms. – “What are we missing?” Identify shortfalls in equipment or other categories (people, training) to accomplish these steps.
- Involve likely partners in the process. Doing so can facilitate a common understanding of the problem, reduce duplication and gaps, increase efficiency by pooling resources, and improve coordination and response time in a crisis.
- Follow up. This includes preparing a written plan and sharing it with all who need to know its contents. Briefing and training are ways to accomplish this but live rehearsals of plans are best. Remember that the plan is a “living document” and situations evolve continuously; plan for regular review and update of your contingency plans and make modifications as needed.