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Where possible, Emergency Response Preparedness (ERP) actions foresee emergencies that are likely to occur and pre-plan key components of a response. Though plans will need to be revised if the event happens, preparedness makes it possible to respond faster, more appropriately and efficiently, and to make decisions on the basis of more reliable information.

Staff at every level are likely to respond more effectively if training, analysis, planning, pre-positioning, and information collection have occurred, coordination mechanisms have been established, and simulation exercises held.

Guidance

The IASC Task Team on Emergency Response Preparedness and Readiness has developed guidance on Emergency Response Preparedness (ERP). A draft of this guidance is now available for field testing. The guidance shows how ERP is a continuous process, divided into three key elements.

1. Risk Profiling and Monitoring

A risk profile identifies and ranks risks according to seriousness. It generates a country risk profile that includes indicators and triggers that can be monitored using early warning mechanisms and tools. Risk analysis should identify groups and populations that are particularly vulnerable, and their likely needs after an emergency.

Once a risk profile has been established, monitoring, using indicators and triggers, allows the country team to assess whether the likelihood of a particular crisis is increasing. Monitoring should detect signs of deterioration or crisis, making an early response possible. The Risk Profile plus Early Warning monitoring make it possible to draft a Contingency Response Plan and take related advanced preparedness actions.

2.Minimum Preparedness Actions (MPA)

Minimum Preparedness Actions should be take concurrtenly with developing a risk profile and establishing monitoring. MPAs focus on the main elements of the humanitarian programme cycle. They identify steps that need to be taken ahead of time to ensure that the HPC can be implemented effectively if indeed a crisis occurs. MPA's are not specific to any particular risk, require minimal resources, and represent, as the name suggests, the minimum arrangements which need to be in place ahead of time should any emergency occur.

3. Advanced Preparedness Actions (APA) and Contingency Planning 

Advanced Preparedness Actions are designed to increase the level of readiness in response to a specific risk or risks. They should be undertaken in conjunction with the developmenty of a Contingency Plan.

Bringing all relevant actors to an advanced level of readiness, a Contingency Plan should be developed whenever risk profiling indicates a specific risk with potentially catastrophic impact (such as a massive earthquake in a vulnerable metropolitan area like Kathmandu) or risk monitoring suggests an emergency may be imminent. If an emergency occurs, the CP informs the Situation Analysis, the Strategic Statement, and the Preliminary Response Plan.