1. Role of operational planning

Humanitarian emergencies can be times of chaos. CARE staff, partners and other actors need information about what needs to be done in order to assist people. Operational plans guide the practical implementation of the response. They help everyone to know what needs to get where, when, how much it will cost, who will do the work, who reports to who and so on. The role of operational plans is to assist in doing the work to schedule, within budget, and meeting quality standards (which includes the involvement and acceptance of affected people). They do not ensure that you are doing the right work – that is the job of assessment, analysis and strategy.

Critical steps

  • Develop initial simple plans to guide the first days (in a rapid onset)
  • Bring the Emergency Response Team together to plan.
  • Bring smaller project teams come together to plan and include all the people needed for the project to work.
  • Define the objective. For individual projects you should consider making this a 25 word or less statement of what you plan to do, by when, at what cost and to what quality standards.
  • Draft a short statement that defines why you will carry out the operation/project. This should be two paragraphs at the most. Remember, this is an internal document and so does not need lots of background information or motivating language. It is to orient someone new or unfamiliar on the basic rationale
  • Define what needs to be produced/done in order to meet that objective (reports written, consultations held, shelters built, etc.)
  • Identify the tasks that need to be completed in order to make those happen.
  • Decide who will be doing which tasks
  • Work out what resources are required to do those tasks
  • Estimate how long it will take to complete them
  • Develop a schedule based on those estimates
  • Draw up a budget
  • Combine individual project budgets into a master budget, and elaborate a funding matrix.
  • Decide who the staff need to report to.
  • Based on the activities develop procurement plans, Gender Action Plan, M&E plan, recruitment plan, security management plan, and others,
  • Pay attention to safety and security from the start. Develop appropriate security management plans (link).
  • Include time and resources for coordination, reporting and other vital but less obvious tasks in your plans.