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close this bookDisaster Preparedness - 2nd Edition (DHA/UNDRO - DMTP - UNDP, 1994, 66 p.)
close this folderPART 3 - Implementing disaster preparedness plans
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPromote the plan at the national level
View the documentEstablish a reliable information base
View the documentDefine appropriate institutional structures
View the documentConsider this advice
View the documentCASE STUDY
View the documentSUMMARY

Consider this advice

Some warnings are in order related to appropriate institutional structures for disaster preparedness plans.

The exchange of information must be an active undertaking. Do not wait for another agency to approach the UN DMT secretariat for information. Be sure that there is an established and effective system to disseminate information.

Ensure that agency representatives are briefed regularly on what is happening about the disaster preparedness plan. Encourage relevant agencies to participate in the planning process.

Be sure that any national disaster preparedness plan fully recognizes the particular specializations of relevant UN agencies.

See to it that no decision about such specializations is discussed without a representative of the agency present. If that is impossible, be sure to brief the agency about the discussions that have ensued.

Do not assume that what is written in the plan is what any individual agency might follow. Before any point of implementation, such as conducting joint assessment missions, be sure to double check specific commitments.

See how specific agency interests might be developed within the context of the proposed disaster preparedness plan. Could an international child welfare agency, at its own behest, play a more active part in health preparedness?

Do not assume instant cooperation from non-governmental organizations. There is frequently a degree of wariness that pervades relations between NGOs and government and between NGOs and the UN system. Nevertheless, NGOs can be vital components to a national disaster preparedness plan. Where willing and able, NGOs should be incorporated into the plan.

A few more warnings are in order related to NGOs in disaster preparedness plans.

Avoid dictates. Effective NGOs are normally represented by people with considerable field experience. These people frequently have grass-roots experiences with disaster relief operations. They know their business, so remember that the exchanges are between equals.

Share experiences. See whether there is an NGO forum in which UN activities concerning disaster preparedness might be discussed. Consider holding special workshops on particular technical matters for NGO staff, on topics such as emergency logistics.

Exchange information. One of the standard responses from NGOs when discussing UN information-gathering is that it is a one-way process. The UN gets the information, and the NGO gets nothing in return. Both UN and government workers benefit considerably from certain insights and information provided by NGOs. Therefore, the exchange of information should be more open. The door of the DMT secretariat should be open to NGOs.

Incorporate NGOs in disaster preparedness activities. Governments might agree and even welcome the opportunity to collaborate with NGOs. However, be certain that a government’s enthusiasm for incorporating an NGO into a preparedness plan is not a measure to constrain NGO activities. Both the government and NGOs must ensure that their agendas are not compromised.

Advice is also in order related to including bilateral donors in plan implementation.

Be sure that donors are in the know. In the disaster preparedness plan, there will be an officially designated focal point in the government that will monitor the relief contributions coming into the country. However, the information may not get through. In times of emergencies, the UN DMT should meet regularly with donors to be sure they know what is needed, what has arrived and the status of ports, airports and other distribution links.

Conduct disaster preparedness briefings. Even before donors provide assistance, be sure they know the procedures set forth in the disaster preparedness plan on how assessments will be made and how subsequent appeals will be issued. Be sure donors know how relief is to be delivered, according to the disaster preparedness plan.