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Contingency planning

Last edited: July 03, 2013

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  • The following is a brief summary of early warning:

“Early warning has been used to predict a wide range of phenomena, from natural disasters, to stock market crashes, famines, refugee flows, genocide, and violent conflict. Since the 1980s, a number of conflict-related early warning initiatives have sprung up in the academic and NGO communities, as well as throughout the United Nations system. Typically, this involves the collection and analysis of open source information to enhance prevention or early response, mainly before violence has erupted or, in the conflict and post-conflict phases, to contain the outbreak, mitigate its effects, and prevent its re-occurrence. Most early warning systems consist of networks of local monitors collecting data on context-relevant indicators, the analysis and dissemination of such information, and its linkage to possible response mechanisms. A frequent criticism of such systems has been that warnings often go unanswered, so in recent years the emphasis of some early warning systems has been on empowering local communities to better prepare themselves and respond to threats, rather than waiting for the information to trigger external intervention.” (UN Action, June 2011)

  • Efforts are underway to develop early warning systems related to sexual violence in conflict. Even though this is an important initiative—and one that can be used to inform the design of early warning systems for other forms of VAWG in both conflict and disaster settings--early warning strategies are impotent if not accompanied by well-developed contingency planning for ‘risk reduction.’ (See ISDR, UNDP, and IUCN, 2009). 
  • Contingency planning is most commonly undertaken in settings where there are cyclical emergencies, particularly related to natural disasters.  While broad gender issues have been incorporated into some contingency planning efforts, work on risk reduction specifically related to VAWG has been minimal.  This is a critical area of prevention, and should be included in any prevention framework. 
  • A sample of draft guidelines related to prevention during contingency planning (developed by UNICEF and partners) is provided below:


eliminates or mitigates the impact of disasters, reduces vulnerabilities and increases the resilience of communities  

Risk Analysis

  • Identify groups in the community that might be vulnerable to GBV, including survivors who are still receiving support (always ensuring that any efforts to identify survivors will not lead to discrimination or stigmatization).
  • Ensure SADD in assessments – and use a gender analysis to interpret the data
  • Build capacity of GBV implementing partners in conducting disaster prevention activities at the community level
  • Build capacity of relevant (?) DRR implementing partners in conducting GBV awareness, prevention, and referral at the community level

Early Warning (EW)

  • Integrate GBV prevention and response messaging in EW systems – including on potential risks and availability of services 
  • Use radio, SMS technology and social media platforms to increase access to life-saving GBV information

Public Awareness

  • Conduct awareness-raising activities with communities – and particularly high-risk groups – on possible risks in times of disaster

Policy Framework

  • Advocate for integration of GBV prevention and response in existing/future DRR policies
  • Advocate for integration of DRR in existing/future GBV policies/programs
  • Work with national disaster management structures and national gender/GBV structures to support the above policies
  • Provide GBV training to national disaster management structures – at national and sub-national levels

Prevention Supplies

  • Where relevant, stock prevention kits or supplies in the form of radios, whistles, flashlights, lockable storage units, secure money pouches, etc. and provide guidance to those actors who are responsible for distribution

Additional Tools

Early Warning Signs of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence, Draft Background Note, June 2011.  A matrix of early warning indicators for sexual violence in conflict was finalized in September 2012 by UN Action and is available in english.