This document provides an overview of the key elements of contingency planning. It provides guidelines for contingency planning; planning priorities will differ according to the context and scope of any given situation.


It is essential to develop contingency plans in consultation and cooperation with those who will have to implement or approve them.  The guide breaks contingency planning into five main steps: prepare, analyse, develop, implement and review.

  • Prepare: Definition, when, how and where to plan, data collection and practical steps to prepare
  • Analyse: Vulnerability and Capacity Assessment, Hazards and Risk analysis, Disaster impacts, Roles, mandate and capacity of National Society, Scenarios
  • Develop: Strategies, goals and objectives, Activation and management of the plan, coordination
  • Implement: Analysis and action plans, standards operating procedures, early warning and alert systems, logistic and program readiness, human resource and resource mobilization, training and simulation, linkages and communications
  • Review: updating and evaluating plans, real-time evaluating and after the response.

Here is the outline of the document:

  • The first chapter of the document sets out some of the definitions, key considerations and principles that must be taken into account when preparing a contingency plan.
  • The second chapter helps planners to create realistic scenarios on which the contingency plan will be based, including what the priority humanitarian needs would be and the Red Cross / Red Crescent role in addressing these.
  • The third chapter sets out the detailed process of writing a contingency plan, and outlines some of the key components.
  • The fourth chapter looks at how certain parts of the contingency plan could be put into place immediately.
  • The fifth chapter looks at the need for updating information regularly to keep a contingency plan current and relevant.


Usage: Policy development

Audiences: National Society leadership; Technical staff

Citation: International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (2012). Contingency Planning Guide (pp. 1-68).

Document Data

Author: IFRC
Publication date:
Status: Final Type: PDF Size (MB): Size: 1
Country: Regional
Resource type: Guidelines

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