Introduction: Saving Lives & Protecting Rights


How to use this Handbook

This handbook aims to act as a practical guide for ActionAid staff across the federation, as well as partners and communities we work with, to improve the speed, quality and efficiency with which we respond to disasters. It aims to do this by facilitating the adoption of the agency’s rights based values, philosophy, tools and approaches in our emergency preparedness and response programming.

Ideally, the handbook should be read in advance of a disaster, but it is also designed so that relevant sections can be used independently as reference guides during a disaster response. For this reason the handbook uses cross-references throughout to avoid repetition in each section.

  • Sections 1 and 2 provide an overview of how ActionAid responds to disasters. Section 1 outlines the key principles that are adopted in ActionAid’s humanitarian programming. Section 2 describes the main processes and structures which guide our emergencies work. These sections can be shared as relevant with external audiences who are broadly interested in our approach.

  • Sections 3 to 5 describe the key actions that need to be taken by different parts of the organisation to respond after a disaster. Section 3 focuses on the first 72 hours, Section 4 on the first month, and Section 5 on six months and beyond.

  • Section 6 deals with preparedness and should be used by any country programme or partner that is prioritizing disaster response in their plans and strategies. For the 2012-2017 strategy period IHART has prioritised 24 countries1 defined as high risk (in terms of likelihood and impact of natural disasters and/or conflict) to receive international level support in developing country and LRP level preparedness plans.

  • Section 7 describes in more detail some of key aspects of emergency programming, including HRBA in emergencies, women’s rights in emergencies, accountability in emergencies, communicating with disaster affected communities and provides sector specific guidance on areas such as food security and livelihoods.

  • The Annexes contain key organizational policies, documents and templates referenced throughout this handbook.

Embedded in ActionAid’s principles are the concepts of learning as an organisation, and committing to improving our practice over time. It is therefore expected that ActionAid humanitarian practitioners will contribute further changes to this manual based on their own practical experience.

1 Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cambodia, DRC, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Occupied Palestinian Territory, Pakistan, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Vietnam, Zimbabwe