What is emergency preparedness?
Emergency preparedness is:
a programme of long-term development
activities whose goals are to strengthen the overall capacity and capability of
a country to manage efficiently all types of emergency and bring about an
orderly transition from relief through recovery, and back to sustained
The development of emergency preparedness programmes requires
that the communitys vulnerability be considered in context. Emergency
preparedness can be ensured by creating a supportive political, legal,
managerial, financial, and social environment to coordinate and use efficiently
available resources to:
- minimize the impact of hazards on communities;
- coordinate an efficient transition from emergency response to
recovery, according to existing goals and plans for development.
Thus, emergency preparedness and emergency management do not
exist in a vacuum. To succeed, emergency preparedness programmes must be
appropriate to their context. This context will vary from country to country and
from community to community, but some relevant aspects are shown in Fig. 12.
Fig. 12. The context of emergency
preparednessa (WHO 97553)
aReproduced from reference
12 by permission of the publisher.
There are a number of aspects to any management activity; in the
context of emergency preparedness programmes they are:
- content (the elements of an emergency preparedness
- form (what the emergency preparedness programme looks like,
and how it fits into real life);
- principles (the criteria used when making decisions about
- process (the methods used to develop
Emergency preparedness includes the following elements:
- legal frameworks and enabling policy for
- the collection, analysis, and dissemination of
information on vulnerability;
- strategies, systems, and resources for
emergency response and recovery;
- public awareness;
- organizational and
human resource development.
These elements should be developed at community, provincial, and
national levels. A capacity in each of these elements is a precondition for
effective response and recovery when an emergency or disaster strikes. Without
these elements, there will be no link between emergency preparedness and
efficient emergency response on the one hand and recovery and development on the
other. Developing and implementing an emergency preparedness programme will also
produce significant secondary gains in encouraging local political commitment,
community awareness, and intersectoral cooperation.
The basic principles of emergency preparedness are outlined
· It is the
responsibility of all.
· It should be woven into the
context of community, government, and NGO administration.
· It is an important aspect of
all development policy and strategies.
· It should be based on
· It is connected to other
aspects of emergency management.
· It should concentrate on
process and people rather than documentation.
· It should not be developed in
· It should use standard
· It should concentrate not only
on disasters but on integrating prevention and response strategies into any
scale of emergency.
The process of preparing for an emergency (see Fig. 13) is a
series of related methods for preparing a community, an organization, or an
activity for emergencies. Each part of the process is explained briefly below
(and most are discussed in greater detail in subsequent chapters).
Policy development (Chapter 2) includes developing emergency
management legislation, normally established by a national government. It will
mainly relate to the responsibility for emergency preparedness and special
Fig. 13. An emergency preparedness
process (WHO 97554)
There is also a need for provincial and community organizations
to develop policy relating to their specific geographical area. Similarly,
private organizations and NGOs with emergency management responsibilities should
develop appropriate policy in full partnership and consultation with the local
Vulnerability assessment (Chapter 3) can be used to identify
those parts of a community that are vulnerable and in what ways; hazards that
may affect a community and how they affect it; factors that render a community
vulnerable and how vulnerability may be reduced; and the hazards that should be
considered for emergency prevention and preparedness. Vulnerability assessment
is also useful for response and recovery and for prevention and preparedness. It
can be used to suggest areas that may have sustained damage and assist in
assessing harm to the affected community, and provide a baseline for recovery
and development strategies, by describing the normal state of a
Emergency prevention is based on vulnerability assessment and
concerns the technical and organizational means of reducing the probability or
consequences of emergencies, and the communitys vulnerability. Emergency
planning (Chapter 4) consists of determining:
- response and recovery strategies to be implemented
during and after emergencies;
- responsibility for these strategies;
management structure required for an emergency;
- the resource management
Training and education (Chapter 5) concern training personnel in
every aspect of emergency management and apprising the community of the kinds of
hazards and the actions that may be required during emergencies, and the ways in
which it can participate in emergency management.
Monitoring and evaluation (Chapter 6) determine how well the
preparedness programme is being developed and implemented, and what needs to be
done to improve it. Monitoring and evaluation are continuous processes, and any
conclusions drawn should be included in policy development, vulnerability
assessment, emergency management, and training and education.
Each section of this emergency preparedness process can be
followed sequentially, but in practice, policy, vulnerability assessment, and
emergency plans are often developed simultaneously. All of these activities
should, however, be linked to ensure proper