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Preparedness for Effective Response (PER) is a cyclical approach designed to empower National Societies to become more creative and innovative in their disaster management actions, and contribute to the coordination of national and global response systems. PER is not a new approach, it has been built on collective experiences and learning through Well-Prepared National Society and Disaster Response Capacity Enhancement over the past two decades. It is a cyclical approach for a National Society to systematically assess, measure and analyse the strengths and weaknesses of its response system in order to take effective actions. The approach is not an evaluation of the National Society or its staff, but rather an assessment that allows staff and volunteers to identify the areas of their response system that need improvement. The mechanism supports the National Society to analyse the outcome of the assessment and translate its results into an action plan meant to enhance the national preparedness for an effective response.

The PER approach provides a basis for understanding, developing and implementing continuity of operations and services within a National Society to deliver services to communities, accountability to donors, beneficiaries and partners in face of disasters and crises. The foundation of this approach is National Disaster Preparedness and Response Mechanism (NDPRM). Setting up this mechanism entitles developing political will, preparing for the implementation and implementing the NDPRM. The mechanism consists of five inter-related areas (1) Policy, Strategy and Standards, (2) Analysis and Planning, (3) Operational Capacity, (4) Coordination, (5) Operations Support and thirty-seven components according to inter-related areas. Built on this, the PER approach further developed benchmarks to assess these components according to areas. Each PER component and benchmark is aligned with the Principles and Rules for Red Cross and Red Crescent Humanitarian Assistance.

When engaging in the PER process, National Societies decide which hazards they want to prioritize in their preparedness plans, based on country risk assessments, as well as their mandate, services, ongoing projects and overall capacity. While all components play an important role to prepare for all hazards, some aspects need specific consideration when a National Society is preparing to respond to epidemic outbreaks.

Orientation Phase

This phase places emphasis on deepening the understanding of the approach by the National Society – including a more holistic deliberation on identification of external and internal organizational needs, analysis of risks and hazards.

Assessment Phase

The overall objective of this phase is to examine all 37 components of National Society’s response system and to identify and prioritize which components require attention and resources to respond effectively, efficiently and timely.

There are four PER methods to assess national disaster preparedness for response in emergencies: self-assessments, simulations, real-time operational reviews or post-operational reviews.

The various types of assessments can be used in conjunction with each other to use resources most efficiently and provide the right level of information at the right time.

Prioritization and Analysis Phase

During this phase, the National Society Identifies and prioritizes which PER components of its response system that require attention, maintenance and resources to effectively, efficiently and timely address them. The National Society completes a root-cause analysis to determine the facts which are preventing improvement.

Workplan Phase

The National Society develops a well-defined workplan based on identified root causes for strengthening its response capacity, including outcomes, outputs, activities, timelines, targets and a clear accountability framework. The plan should be cross-departmental, aligned with Strategic Plan, and ideally multi-resourced.

Action and Accountability Phase

The National Society implements the workplan and monitors and reports on progress. During this phase the National Society recognizes that the cycle of assessing, analyzing/prioritizing, planning and repeating requires time, investment and efforts over the long-term to ensure that corrective measures are identified, addressed, tested and continuously improved.


  1. Understanding, Ownership and Commitment: National Societies and partners must understand and have genuine ownership and commitment to the approach.
  2. Evidence-based Methodologies: The approach is based on Movement standards for a National Society to objectively measure preparedness and response capacity over time.
  3. Holistic and System-Wide Perspectives: The approach takes a cross-departmental and National Society-wide perspective to understand the entire preparedness and response system.
  4. Practical, Adaptable and Scalable: The approach provides practical, adaptable and scalable solutions to accommodate various contexts and circumstances a National Society may face.
  5. Participatory and Inclusive Planning: The approach promotes participatory and inclusive planning methods.
  6. Coordination and Collaboration: The approach supports coordination and collaboration within a National Society and across the RCRC Movement.
  7. Optimization and Alignment of Tools and Resources: The approach optimizes financial and technical resources through harmonization of plans and tools.

Being prepared to respond to crisis and disasters is critical to saving lives. Check instructional and explanatory videos on the importance of preparedness in the National Society Preparedness YouTube playlist 

National Society Preparedness – Newsletter (May 2021)
National Society Preparedness – Newsletter (March 2021)
Living with floods challenge in Mozambique
Epidemic Preparedness and Response Package – Training modules – Africa region
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Learn more about the Preparedness for Effective Response Approach by accessing the online course on the IFRC Learning Platform. Login required.


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