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Prepared for Shock: Is Preparedness the New Frontier?

Is investment in preparedness a good use of humanitarian funding?


14 March 2018




What are the best approaches to funding and programme design to ensure sustainable solutions and community leadership in preparedness programming?

How can we inform future programming to ensure we have the right people with the right skills at the right place and time to prepare for and respond to disasters in the most appropriate way?

When: 14th March - 15th March 2018
Where: Starling Geneva Hotel & Conference Centre, Switzerland

An independent review into how the UK responds to humanitarian emergencies highlighted the need for greater investment in preparedness. This led the UK Department for International Development (DFID) to launch the three year Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) in 2014, collectively managed by DFID, the Start Network and the CDAC Network. The programme aimed to significantly improve the quality and speed of humanitarian response in countries at risk of natural disasters or conflict related emergencies through strengthening the capacity of national humanitarian staff, governments, preparedness systems and early warning systems.

The programme has generated significant experiences, lessons and evidence that can help inform key debates and issues facing the humanitarian preparedness sector. The ‘Preparing for Shock: Is Preparedness the New Frontier?’ global conference is being organised to provide a platform for the sector to collectively discuss key issues in disaster preparedness programming and help set the future direction for preparedness investments.

Purpose and thematic focus

The purpose of the conference is to provide a platform for stakeholders working with or as part of the Disasters and Emergencies Preparedness sector to debate key issues affecting the sector to inform future policy, practice, programming and funding strategies.

Join donors, Non-Government Organisations (NGOs) and networks, government representatives, private sector, academic institutions, community representatives and practitioners to explore lessons, experiences and evidence around four thematic areas and inform the way forward for preparedness.


Thematic Area 1: Return on investment in disaster preparedness:  Investment in disaster preparedness is increasingly gaining impetus but is it worth the effort and what does evidence tell about the return on this investment?


  • What do we actually mean when we speak about ‘return on investment’ in humanitarian preparedness? – Exploring what it can and can’t tell us
  • Does investment in preparedness lead to reduced costs and timely and better quality responses?
  • Should particular types of investments be prioritised over others? If so what are these?
  • Are there tools and evidence demonstrating Return On Investments (ROI) that can be used to help investors and programmers make better decisions around preparedness initiatives?


Thematic Area 2: Communities are by nature resilient: How do we step back from supporting external leadership to enabling community leadership and community involvement in preparedness and response?


  • Communities working together are powerful leaders and implementers. How do we balance the power between our desire to charge in with what we consider “strong leadership” and stand back to enable the power of communities to come to the fore?
  • How can we better plan for community leadership as international agencies?
  • How far are we from ensuring participation of and reaching the most marginalised?
  • To what extent are we programming according to inclusive principles, and what are we doing that is different in practice and the results of this?
  • How have we progressed on enhancing the roles of underrepresented groups such as women, older people and people with disabilities in preparing for, delivering and reaching the affected population?
  • How far have we come in enabling affected communities in leading preparedness programming and humanitarian response?
  • What challenges do we continue to face and what are the potential solutions?


Thematic Area 3: Sustainability of preparedness investments: How can enhancement of engagement between humanitarian and development actors support solutions for achieving sustainability of preparedness investments?


  • Resilience and sustainability – what must agencies, governments and donors consider during the preparedness stage to ensure long-term resilience of disaster affected populations?
  • How do we best involve and build capacity of local actors (individuals, governments, organisations and systems) to promote long term sustainability?
  • How should approaches to localisation happen at the international level versus the country level, and what are specific examples of what works and what doesn’t work?
  • To what extent are the debates and approaches to localisation at the difference levels aligned? What does this mean for global policy and designing preparedness programming?


Thematic Area 4: Smart Thinking, Smart Programming, Smart Funding for preparedness: Finding the right approach for 2030


  • Exploring preparedness financing models and approaches.
  • Portfolio approach and multiyear programming, what are the challenges and benefits?
  • Collective ways of working for effective programming and increased funding, what works, what doesn’t work, and what are the gains of working collaboratively?



We are bringing together donors, NGOs/NGO networks, government representatives, private sector, academic institutions, community representatives and practitioners working within the disasters and emergencies preparedness sector for this event. We have limited space so please do remember to register your interest for a chance to attend.

Watch our video explaining Start Networks vision for localisation.

Click here to sign up for this event

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