DRC has three main emergency response modalities:
1. Country or region led emergency response
In this model the emergency response is managed within the existing country/regional management structures. This is by far the most common response modality in DRC. Here, the day-to-day management of the response, including the mobilization of financial and human resources, is undertaken from the field with support from their Regional Office. The response will be informed by the Emergency Preparedness and Response Plan developed, where country programmes will have done much of the groundwork in terms of defining the capacity and actions needed to scale up.
Emergency responses may also be set up in new countries by Regional Offices following this response modality. Starting new country operations requires endorsement by the Secretary General and Executive Committee.
The regional or country operation can request support from the HQ Emergency Unit in terms of technical advice, emergency funding, and deployments of surge staff from EMPACT, the pool of emergency responders or the Standby Roster. Additionally, as part of its GSL function, the Emergency Unit is responsible for monitoring the implementation of the emergency responses globally and for ensuring that DRC’s quality and compliance standards and procedures related to emergency are met to a desired level and in an acceptably uniform way across operations. In cases where there are indications that the operation is not compliant with these commitments and procedures, the HQ Emergency Unit is expected to report this to Management at a global level, who will then decide on an appropriate course of action.
Under certain circumstances, the support role of the HQ Emergency Unit may be enhanced to include a lead role in setting up or escalating an emergency response, yet still remaining within the managerial framework of the country operation.
Responsible for emergency response: Country/Regional Director
Overall accountable: Head of Operations Division
2. HQ-led start up
In the event that a humanitarian crisis occurs in a country without DRC presence but where DRC has a clear comparative advantage, the Secretary General, with approval from the Executive Committee, can decide to start up a new country operation. In such cases, the HQ Emergency Unit can be tasked with setting up the new operation, in coordination with the Operations Departments/Regional Office as agreed.
The HQ Emergency Unit will be responsible for both defining the operation’s strategy, focus and priority areas through the intervention concept and for the implementation of the emergency response. Additionally it will cover all aspects of setting up the operation including securing the authorisation to operate, establishing operational infrastructure, ensuring coordination with partners, the recruitment of staff, and fundraising. During the start-up the Emergency Unit will strive to establish systems as described in the Operations Handbook.
Transition from Emergency Unit to Regional Office
The period that the emergency operation will remain with the Emergency Unit should not exceed 6 months, except in special circumstances. Within 1 month of the start-up, the Regional Office that will eventually take over the operation should be identified. This handover of responsibility usually does not mean the end of the emergency phase, but rather occurs once the initial response has been consolidated.
To ensure a smooth transition, the Regional Office should gradually be involved in establishing systems, building budgets, and recruiting core staff before the handover date. This will take place through visits to the emergency operation, consultations around budgets before submission to donors etc.
The Emergency Unit will make sure that the checklist for the handover of emergency operations is complete.
Responsible for emergency response: HQ Emergency Unit
Overall accountable: Head of GRER
3. Corporate Emergency Response
DRC classifies the largest, most urgent and complex of DRC’s response modalities as a Corporate Emergency. A Corporate Emergency can be declared in existing DRC operations or in areas without prior DRC presence. DRC’s declaration of a Corporate Emergency will often coincide with the UN’s activation of scale-up protocols. The duration of a Corporate Emergency is decided by the Executive Management Team at their initial meeting but should not exceed 6 months.
The declaration of a Corporate Emergency activates mechanisms and procedures that enable DRC to deliver timely, appropriate, and predictable responses to crises. In a Corporate Emergency the response becomes a corporate priority, which in principle entails that expertise and resources can be drawn in from across the organisation.
If a Corporate Emergency is declared in an existing DRC operation then the overall responsibility and accountability for the emergency response is transferred from the relevant Head of Operations Division to the Head of GRER, meaning that the Country and/or Regional operation will report directly to the Head of GRER on all issues related to the response. In such cases, the role of the HQ Emergency Unit can be either supportive or can entail the direct management of the response.
If a Corporate Emergency is declared in a country without a DRC presence, it will in practice function as a HQ led emergency start-up as described above but with access to more resources from within the organisation.
Ending the Corporate Emergency
If a Corporate Emergency is activated in a new DRC country, within one month of the start-up the Secretary General/Executive Management Team should decide which Region will take over the operation once the Emergency Unit has withdrawn.
Having a fixed end date and knowing which Region will take over when the Corporate Emergency is over, provides sufficient time to ensure a smooth transition. No later than 3 weeks before Corporate Emergency period is up, the Head of GRER, in consultation with the HQ Emergency Unit and Country/Regional Director, should make a recommendation to the SMG whether the Corporate Emergency should be deactivated or extended. This decision will be based on an assessment of the extent to which the national structure, systems and procedures have been sufficiently put in place to enable the country programme to sustain the emergency response without the dedicated support and expertise provided by the HQ Emergency Unit.
The SMG will meet no later than 2 weeks before the end of the Corporate Emergency period to review the recommendation and to deactivate or extend it.
The HQ Emergency Unit will ensure that the checklist for the handover of emergency operations is complete.
Responsible for emergency response: HQ Emergency Unit or Country Director (depending on model)
Overall accountable: Head of GRER