Operations Planning: Linking Early Warning to Early Response
Linking early warning to early response requires the quick mobilisation of funds to implement pre-planned response activities. The pre-planning process, or contingency/operations planning, ensures that potential ARC Ltd payouts are optimised and used effectively, and that ARC funds reach the most vulnerable populations in an efficient and timely manner. This planning also allows participating governments to make evidence-based decisions, with a clear understanding of the financial resources available to them in the event of a disaster, and the types of activities required to save lives as well as livelihoods.
Ensuring that early response activities reach those most impacted by extreme weather events in Africa is one of the ARC’s primary objectives. Operations planning saves governments both time and money, as proven in the ARC Cost Benefit Analysis (CBA) which concluded that substantial speed, cost and targeting gains can be achieved through improved contingency planning.
The planning process requires countries to identify the optimal use of funds from an ARC Ltd, payout given the existing national risk management structure and the needs of potential beneficiaries. Operations plans should be government-driven and based on in-country priorities for risk management in the context of food security. In fact, the CBA shows that the magnitude of contingency planning benefits is much greater when the plans involve scaling-up existing programmes – such as social protection programmes – on account of both improved targeting and gains in speed. Conversely, a payout plan that has no contingency planning, and therefore no speed advantages, offers no economic gains over traditional response mechanisms and therefore no benefits that would outweigh the cost of running a facility like ARC.
Within ARC, contingency planning refers to both the operations plan and a Final Implementation Plan (FIP) that has to be submitted by the government when a payout if imminent. This details information on how the ARC payout will be deployed based on the specific circumstances. These plans are developed collaboratively between national governments, in-country partners, and where needed, the ARC Secretariat. The development of these plans is guided by ARC’S Contingency Planning Standards and Guidelines, developed based on a comprehensive Cost Benefit Analysis of early response to help countries link early warning to livelihood saving early response activities.
Principles guiding the ARC contingency planning process
Time sensitive and/or catalytic: Payouts must be used for time-sensitive activities which can be enhanced by the timely and reliable funds that ARC provides. Implementation and first contact with beneficiaries through activity is feasible within 120 days of an ARC payout, and supporting activities to ensure faster and more effective action for the overall response.
Critical impact: Payouts should not be used for general investment activities but instead, should demonstrate their critical impact for vulnerable beneficiaries who require urgent assistance after a disaster.
Duration – Each activity that is funded by an ARC payout should be completed within six months to ensure that financial resources are utilised in a timely and efficient manner. This will ensure that countries capitalise on the “first available” funds principle of ARC.