Humanitarian Health Action

Inter-agency contingency planning guidelines for humanitarian assistance

5 November 2007

The revised Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Guidelines on Inter-Agency Contingency Planning, were endorsed by the IASC Working Group on 5 November 2007. These Guidelines were developed to help Country Teams in preparing to respond to potential emergencies with appropriate humanitarian assistance and protection. The Guidelines stress that inter-agency contingency planning is a broad-based and participatory process. Therefore, the planning team should include at the very minimum UN agencies, international organizations, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and nongovernmental organizations.

Inter-agency contingency planning is a process of anticipating and solving problems in advance of a crisis. The Guidelines aim to help agencies and organizations develop an over-arching framework for collective action in preparing for and responding to potential emergencies, including natural hazards. They have been revised to reflect accumulated good practice and humanitarian reform to enhance response capacity, predictability, accountability and partnership. Specific attention has been given to the cluster approach which represents a raising of the standards for sectoral coordination. The members of the IASC have committed to using the cluster approach in all contingency planning for potential emergencies.