13. Exit and transition strategy

Knowing how to end an emergency response can be as important as knowing when to begin one. When and how CARE should end emergency operations depends on a range of factors and can take various forms, including phasing-out (withdrawing) CARE‘s assistance or shifting to longer-term programmes. The strongest exit strategies for CARE emergency operations look beyond providing immediate, life-saving relief services, and develop the capacity of recipient populations and governments to deal with future crises.

An exit strategy is a plan for withdrawing CARE’s emergency resources while ensuring that the goals of the emergency response are not jeopardised. CARE can achieve better outcomes for affected populations when an exit is strategically planned with partners. Expectations should be managed by informing government, local authorities and the community about the extent of CARE’s commitment. This allows better decisions to be made about how to employ local resources, so differing expectations can be avoided.

Key factors to consider when planning an exit include:

  • nature of the emergency
  • vulnerability of the population
  • types of assets depleted
  • regional context
  • access to partners.

Exit strategies should include possible indicators for exit, monitoring systems for measuring progress towards exit conditions, and identification of capacities to be built and left behind when CARE emergency assistance ends.

The WFP Emergency field operations pocketbook states that exit strategies should contain:

  • criteria for exit
  • measurable benchmarks to assess progress towards meeting the criteria
  • steps to reach the benchmarks, including identifying the staff responsible for taking these steps
  • periodic measures for assessing progress towards the criteria and possible modifications based on analysis of potential risks
  • a flexible timeline specifying when these benchmarks will be reached and when the assessments will be conducted.

For more information exit strategies refer to Annex 5.8 What we know about exit strategies: Practical guidance for developing exit strategies in the field.