Decision Making on Response Modality

The decision whether DRC will categorize a large scale emergency response as country/region led, HQ led, or as a Corporate Emergency lies with the Secretary General and the Executive Management Team. Below is an overview of the decision-making process determining whether and how to respond upon receiving a crisis alert. Crises can be sudden onset shocks or slow onset/protracted situations, where conditions have reached a critical threshold which has caused a national duty bearer, the UN or DRC to raise the alert.

Countries with DRC presence

When the crisis requires an urgent life-saving response at scale in a country where DRC is already present, a decision has to be made as to whether the response will remain country/region-led or if a Corporate Emergency should be declared. Below is the sequence of events leading to the choice of response modality in such cases.

Step 1:
Launch a Situation Analysis and risk assessment with involvement from the HQ Safety Unit. A situation analysis can be initiated by the Country or Regional Director, or any member of the SMG, but must always be conducted in consultation with the HQ Emergency Unit. The situation analysis must address the scale, severity, key protection, assistance, access, and safety concerns. In addition, it must assess the country programme’s capacity to respond as well as what additional support is deemed necessary (specific sector expertise, procurement, HR, logistics, etc.) to support the implementation of a large scale humanitarian response.

Step 2: Submit the situation and preliminary risk analysis to the Head of Emergencies, Christian Gad. In a sudden onset crisis the situation analysis should be submitted within 24 hours.

Step 3: The Head of Emergencies/Head of GRER immediately informs the SMG about the findings. Based on the situation analysis and internal discussions, the SMG may decide to declare a Corporate Emergency or send an emergency mission to confirm the findings and to assess the capacity of the Country/ Regional Office to launch an emergency response at scale. The field mission will be led by the HQ Emergency Unit and may include participants from the HQ Support Unit and/or Regional Office. Where feasible, the emergency mission should leave within 48 hours of the SMG meeting.

Step 4: Based on the findings from the situation analysis and/or the emergency mission, the SMG will decide if the response should be a “regular” country/region-led emergency response or a Corporate Emergency, and if it is declared a Corporate Emergency – which of the three modalities should be activated (see Corporate Emergency annex).

While the above is ongoing, the Country Director, Regional Director, or Head of Operations Division, in close consultation with the HQ Emergency Unit, should start preparing the response, ideally drawing on the preparations undertaken as part of the EPRP process. This includes:

  • Development of preliminary response concept.
  • Analysis of existing budgets for possible reallocation to emergency response.
  • Initial contact to potential in-country emergency donors and partners established.
  • Assessment of whether additional human resources are needed from DRC’s Surge staff pools. If so, the relevant surge staff should be contacted by the HQ Emergency Unit to be ready for deployment within 72 hours.
  • Decision whether additional financial resources are needed from DRC’s Emergency Funds.


Countries without DRC presence

In new countries, one or more of the following criteria should be met before DRC can consider starting up an emergency response:

  • Large scale unmet humanitarian needs exist or are very likely to occur in the near future.
  • DRC would have a unique comparative advantage compared to other actors already in place to respond to the particular crisis, such as previous experience from the country in question or presence in a neighbouring country that will facilitate access.
  • DRC is asked by UNHCR to activate the RERA (Refugee Emergency Response Agreement) signed with UNHCR.
  • Other donors encourage DRC to establish a presence.

Step 1: If one or more of the above criteria are met, the Executive Management Team can request the HQ Emergency Unit or the relevant Regional Office to do an initial desk assessment within 48 hours.

Step 2: If the desk assessment is positive in terms of DRC’s involvement, an emergency assessment mission is initiated to the area in question ideally within the first 6 days of the alert.

Step 3: Based on the results from the emergency assessment the Secretary General and Executive Management Team will decide if DRC will start up an emergency response in the location, and whether this response will be categorized as a Corporate Emergency or as a “regular” emergency response and will request the relevant Regional Office or the HQ Emergency Unit to initiate the response.



Contact the HQ Emergency Unit: [email protected]