Section 4: Key Actions within 1 Month of Disaster


Management response

Implement key management processes

Who does this: members/country programme

Human resource management

  • HR is part of the programme and is included in the response plan. The HR plan should be developed based on prior analysis included in the HR section of the country level preparedness plan.

  • Staff should be deployed or recruited to meet all requirements of the programme to enable an effective response – national EFAST and volunteers should be included as part of the structure (see Section 2)

  • As a signatory to People in Aid, ActionAid will utilise the principles and guidelines outlined by People in Aid, specifically regarding fast-track recruitment, rest and recuperation, psychosocial support for staff and on-the-job coaching.

    Information on the People In Aid Principles can be found in Section 7 – Accountability.

  • ActionAid has worked with a group of different INGOs to develop a Humanitarian Core Competencies Framework which describes the important competencies and behaviours required by humanitarian workers. This should be used when developing job descriptions, interview questions and assessing job performance.

Staff safety and security

  • Make sure a designated and trained security focal person is in place.

  • Security risk analysis, security procedures and contingency plans are in place and updated as necessary.

  • New risks are identified and staff engaged in emergency response are actively and effectively supported to manage and minimise the risks.

  • Security orientations and inductions are organised for staff joining the response, EFAST deployments and other staff visiting the country to support the emergency response.

  • Effective structures and capacities are in place to respond to critical security incidents during the course of emergency response.

Financial management

  • An efficient finance system must be in place, capable of managing:

    • contractual obligations;

    • identifying and managing financial risk related to currency exchange, corruption and cash handling;

    • cash flow to partners and procurement;

    • accurate financial reporting and management accounts;

    • plans for internal and external audits.

  • Financial transactions and financial management processes will follow adequate internal controls in line with the Financial Management Framework. Emergency financial policies and procedures should only be applicable during the relief phase, and normal policy should resume once the relief phase of emergency is over. During an emergency, funds will be available to members/country programmes through DPRF upon request to IHART.

  • A back-up plan, which could take the form of an in-country, finance staff emergency roster, should be considered.

  • The programme will be consistent with the emergency section of ActionAid’s international Financial Management Framework. The full document can be downloaded from the Hive. See the Handbook Of Good Practices: Preventing Corruption In Humanitarian Operations for guidance.

Contract management

  • The responsible staff member in the country programme will prepare a schedule of donor reports and contractual obligations and ensure incorporation of these obligations in the programme implementation plan.

  • The management structure will outline clear responsibilities for contract management and financial management of fundraised income and fundraising.

Logistics and administration plan

Logistics and administration will be an integral part of the programme plan and should consider the following priorities:

  • supporting movement of staff and partners

  • managing procurement, storage and supplies

  • setting up and maintaining communication equipment and IT

  • management of vehicles and transportation

  • setting up and maintaining offices

  • handling of cash and banking: (possible risk issues: volume of transaction, handling of cash in danger prone areas, no/limited banking facilities, difficulties in opening bank accounts).

Annex 10 contains a checklist of key actions under each of these headings.

Key principles to consider include:

  • Participation of and accountability to disaster-affected communities, for example community participation in procurement decisions, and scrutiny of suppliers and costs.

  • Be aware of donor requirements for procurement that must be followed.

  • Consider international standards, which define the necessary quality of humanitarian goods and services. For example, ISO standards or the WHO prequalification programme for supplies of drugs for malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS.

  • Prices in emergencies often increase dramatically and this must be considered when putting together budgets.

  • Preparedness is key – identify, screen and build relationships with suppliers in advance, and make sure there is clarity on the ActionAid processes and systems that apply in emergencies (for example, some financial processes are altered to allow greater flexibility).

  • Procurement of goods and services should be done as locally as possible, to ensure appropriateness of goods, reduce transport costs and support the local economy of a disaster-affected community. Where goods or services are not available locally, or are of insufficient quality, identify alternatives within the country or regionally. Only in exceptional circumstances should procurement be done at the global level – for example if specialised equipment or supplies are needed that are not available locally.

The UN global logistics cluster provides lots of resources on logistics in emergencies, including a logistics operational guide

Develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) plan

Who does this: member/country programme

All ActionAid’s emergency response and resilience programmes will include an M&E plan to:

  • Ensure ActionAid demonstrates its accountability and monitors compliance and standards. There is a range of international standards (including Sphere) that define required quality and timeliness in emergency response, and detailed technical standards in different sectors (see Section 7 – Accountability).

  • Maintain flexibility to keep country strategy papers and annual plans relevant to the changing context.

  • Generate lessons for current and future ActionAid emergency responses.

  • Track qualitative and quantitative information to monitor our impact against the change promises in People’s action to end poverty.

Evaluations of the ERRP will include a real time evaluation (RTE) conducted within three months of the start of the emergency response (see The Hive for a sample ToR for an RTE). Subsequent reviews and external evaluations will be planned for at regular intervals (depending on the scale of the disaster).

All reviews and evaluations will cover:

  • an analysis of ActionAid’s adherence to the Red Cross Code of Conduct,

  • value for money,

  • accountability to disaster-affected communities,

  • and indicators against objectives and outcomes, in addition to other areas as required by donors.

M&E processes must be done professionally, with adequate finance and human resources allocated to manage them properly. A number of standards should also be followed:

  • usefulness – all M&E processes must be useful

  • cost-effectiveness – best option selected from alternatives

  • independence and impartiality – should generate unbiased and objective assessment, and those involved should not have conflict of interest

  • accountable – all processes must be transparent, open and people who participated must have feedback in appropriate language

  • ethical – will follow ethical procedure of information collection.

ActionAid’s approach to M&E in emergencies

Implementing disaster response


Regular – throughout programme period.

Focus and objectives

  • understand changing context and recovery status of rights holders

  • assess the timeliness, adequacy and quality of our response against target – plans and budget

  • identify strengths and weakness of our programming and management process to deliver programme effectively

  • identify existing and emerging risks

  • deliver accountability to donors and supporters


  • allocate budget and staff time for M&E – recruit dedicated staff if needed

  • integrate with accountability process – e.g. community review and social auditing

  • include logframe indicators and examine inputs in relation to output and outcome of logframe (as agreed with donors)

  • examine programme quality and timeliness, finance, risk and policy work

  • build on regular process – e.g. activity and finance reporting, field visit, finance report

  • carefully manage data and numbers

  • don’t always approach it technically – adopt broad approach analysing recovery level of rights holders and your contribution – and see the gaps

  • use findings to modify programme

Real time evaluation – RTE


during a project – and early enough to influence programme process – ideally within three months of the start of the emergency response

Focus and objectives

  • understand the relevance of programme strategy in the context

  • validate ability of programme strategy and approach to meet short- and long-term needs

  • effectiveness of management process – identification of risks

  • changes required in strategy and planning

  • gaps in capacity and funds to achieve programme goals


  • design it as forward looking and improvement-orientated

  • note key operational and strategic challenges

  • define the ToR in relation to programme strategy, approach as well as logframe – consult with IHART and Oversight Group

  • make it a short and quick one

  • commission to external – but internal may take part

  • organise effective de-briefing (as people may not have time to read report)

  • share report with IHART and Oversight Group

Final evaluation

(can also have mid-term, depending on size and duration – and meta evaluation of several project evaluations).


at the end of all donor funded projects – and programme-wide evaluation at the end of ERRP

Focus and objectives

  • assessing accountability to donor, ActionAid and disasteraffected communities

  • generating learning: for future emergency responses

  • focus: strategy, programme design, capacity, funds, risks and transition

  • determine the relevance and fulfillment of objectives, developmental efficiency, effectiveness, impact and sustainability


  • use of established evaluation criteria: OECD/DAC criteria or other established standards e.g. Sphere standards

  • conduct mid-term review if ERRP’s duration is three years or more

  • use logframe to formulate evaluation questions

  • share ToR with donors, if funded

  • conducted by external consultants, or a mixture of external and internal

  • several specific evaluations can also be conducted for organisational learning

  • conduct meta evaluation of several evaluations by IHART – to see overall trends of performance

Impact study


depending on nature of programme – ideally after one to three years of programme ending.

Focus and objectives

  • understand impact of programme on people and policy environment – in relation to disaster recovery, poverty and resilience, often end-line study can be done against baseline indicators (if available).

Develop a risk matrix

Risks are an unavoidable part of disaster response. The success of a response depends on how efficiently we can identify and manage those risks. Risks should have both mitigation and contingency plans. Sources of risk can be internal or external/contextual.

Examples of common types of risk include:

  • Programme quality: risks which mean the disaster response programme does not benefit the most vulnerable people. These include a lack of participation of the affected community, poor technical capacity, lack of understanding of ActionAid’s human rights-based approach, poor needs assessment etc.

  • Delay in implementation: risks that affect timeliness of programme delivery. These include logistical problems, delays in recruitment, lack of clarity in decision-making, delays in disbursement of funds etc.

  • Financial risk: risks that mean ActionAid does not meet the required standards in financial management. These include inaccurate reporting, delayed reporting, misuse of funds, theft, double reporting. Some of these factors may be a case of deliberate misuse of funds, and others a result of mistakes or a lack of capacity of ActionAid staff and partners.

  • Reputational risk: the risk that poor performance in one part of ActionAid (e.g. poor financial management, slow or inefficient response, complaints from affected community etc) negatively affects ActionAid’s public profile, ability to raise fund and influence others. These include negative media coverage, negative assessments from other NGOs or donors, complaints from affected communities, etc.

  • Risk associated with staff: risks that limit the ability of staff to work productively, to innovate, to facilitate participation and timely decision-making. These include insecurity, stress, lack of motivation, lack of clarity in roles and responsibilities.

To manage these risks, all ERRPs will develop a risk matrix, which should be updated regularly. An example of a risk matrix, which can be adapted for the specific Emergency Response and Resilience Programme.

All risk registers should contain three strands:

  • risk assessment concerning programme quality, timeliness of delivery, financial risk, security risk and reputational risk to ActionAid

  • robust risk management actions

  • clearly defined responsibilities and accountabilities to implement risk management actions.

An update on risk management measures will be included in management reports (as agreed with Oversight Groups).