Disaster response

People In Aid is commited to providing vital resources and information in order to help humanitarian and development organisations respond more effectively to disasters.

The information on this page is divided into six sections:

Current Ebola outbreak: West Africa (September 2014)

The current Ebola outbreak in West Africa is presenting a number of difficult HR challenges to our members. In response to the need identified by our members we have established an Ebola HR working group, which aims to assist our members in resolving these challenges, and to share resources further across the network. Thanks to the collaboration of the working group participants, we have gathered together policies and guidelines which are now available to access in the member-only Policy Bank (links will be live on 8 September).

Should you wish to join the working group, provide feedback to the documents available or have resources that you would like to share with other members through our Policy Bank, please contact Em Lacroix directly.  

Interactive Resources

Managing People In Emergencies Wiki
A survival guide for humanitarian programme managers

Our Managing People In Emergencies wiki on People In Aid Interactive is a vital resource which gives you access to over 130 pages of material, helping you create, manage and develop your team in an emergency.

This wiki focuses not only focuses on the risks you may have to take and how best to manage them, but also allows you to edit and contribute to the guide in order to share your own experiences and information with those who need it.

The material, which is in six sections, will help you to: 

Each section details the major risks and how you can manage them, provides resources to help you with your work and case studies to illustrate what has happened to other programme managers in similar situations.

The 'Managing People In Emergencies' wiki is completely free to access, and will be especially useful to programme managers looking to manage their staff effectively during times of emergency.

Online discussions with colleagues responding to disasters

Post queries, share resources and see what your peers are saying on the interactive HHR (Humanitarian HR) online discussion forum, for HR practitioners and people managers. Simply sign up and post to the forum here.

Key HR resources (all resources are free unless indicated)

HR Manual: provides an overall framework for human resource management in field, regional and head offices. The last section also offers a comprehensive framework for a national staff handbook with workable templates, including appraisal forms and employment contracts.(£75 for People In Aid members, £150 for non members)

Policy Guidelines: including policy templates on Child Protection; Induction, Briefing, Handovers Guidelines; Rest and Relaxation; Safety and Security, Performance Management

Policy Bank (FREE for People In Aid members): especially all the Health and Safety Policies includes travel policies, emergency evacuation, H&S etc

Enhancing Staff Security

Relief Worker Burnout

Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial support in Emergency settings

The EPN (now HHR) 7 conference in 2005, following the Tsunami in Asia focused on Management Development for Emergencies (Day 1 holds useful reflections for lessons learnt from past emergencies)

Approaches to Staff Care in International NGOs

Supporting Staff Responding to Disasters: Recruitment, Briefing and On-going Care. (£15.00 for People In Aid members, £30.00 for non members)
• Appendix 3: Common symptoms of stress or trauma/ Síntomas comunes del estrés o trauma
• Appendix 4: Stress Management strategies/ Estrategias para el manejo del estrés


The  Managing People In Emergencies wiki recruitment page provides extensive material to help you recruit the best possible staff in times of emergency. Among the topics featured are:

International Recruitment Resource Sheet

Human Resources related roles can be advertised on our HR Jobs Board or HHR Online. 

Case Studies

Office In A Box: Mercy Corps (MC) has developed Office in a Box (OIB) to expedite program start-up in emergency contexts and to ensure comprehensive, compliant and consistent implementation of operational procedures

Capacity building strengthens quality and accountability: This case study from Community World Service Asia highlights a capacity building programme that ensured Q&A in the immediate aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines in 2013.

Key factors for a successful programme exit: This case study from British Red Cross in Haiti shares strategies and tips for a responsible exit that safeguards programme achievements and ensures sustainable local impact. The BRC Exit Handbook for National Staff is available for People In Aid members.

Useful General Links

Relief Web gives operational coverage, and includes Situation Reports

LINGOS: Local salary and benefits survey (Charge for participation) www.lingosurvey.com/lingo

Headington institute: The CARD Directory is an international online directory of professional counsellors

InterHealth: travel medical clinic also offers travel medical services, psychological health and occupational health services and works with a number of UK based INGOs


Phillipines Typhoon (November 2013)

  • Debriefing: Building Staff Capacity (Worldwide) Case study
  • VSO: Debriefing Strategy Case study
  • UNICEF: Using Simulations to Improve Emergency Response Case study
  • Debriefing Aid Workers and Missionaries Handbook
  • A networked response? Effective humanitarian networks Blog by HR Services Manager, Em Lacroix
  • Emergency Response Rosters Information note
  • Behaviours which lead to effective performance in humanitarian response Research
  • AlertNet has spotlight on the Typhoon emergency in Philippines
  • ReliefWeb gives operational coverage, and includes Situation Reports


East Africa Drought (July 2011)

Japan Earthquake/Tsunami (March 2011)

  • Guidelines on Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Emergency Settings (English, Japanese)
  • Coping with Disaster (in English and Japanese) was developed by CARE’s Staff Care Team (Translated with CARE’s permission)
  • Understanding and Addressing Vicarious Trauma information sheet (in English and Japanese) written by Dr. Laurie Pearlman, adapted by CARE Staff Team
  • Psychological First Aid: Field Operations Guide is also  available in Japanese from the NICTSN website

Pakistan Floods (August 2010)

Travel Disruptions Due To Volcanic Ash (April 2010)

We have received many questions from member organisations on how to treat staff absences as a result of the recent travel disruptions (caused by volcanic ash from the eruption in Iceland).

Some suggested outcomes are listed below.

Suggestions for staff stranded following work trips

Staff are encouraged to continue working as best they can from their current location, assuming access to internet, mobile phones or the country offices. The Federation of Small Businesses says that if staff are stranded after going overseas on business they should continue to be paid as normal. One member suggests that normal guidelines in relation to expenses is to be followed (minus any allowances that may be given directly by airlines and or insurance)

Suggestions for staff stranded following holidays

The possibility of working from a holiday location may be limited. Some agencies are allowing discretionary leave, whilst others are agreeing a 50:50 arrangement (50% employee holiday and 50% organisation gifted time). If the member of staff decides they would prefer not to work, despite there being a possibility, then they should take annual leave. If staff have run out of leave, good practice would allow employees to use leave days from the following year if employers are not prepared to allow staff extra time off.

You can debate and discuss the issues affecting you now on HHR online here. If you are not yet a member of HHR Online, you can register here.

More on staff absences:


Chile Earthquake (February 2010)

As well as the above, the following resources are of use to agencies working in the disaster response in Chile following the earthquake on 27/02/10.

Key Spanish Resources