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This content is taken from the EIT Food, Queen's University Belfast & European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT)'s online course, Panic-Buying During Crisis: How Do Food Supply Chains Cope?. Join the course to learn more.

National and EU measures

Contingency planning at a government level is about high quality co-ordinated preparedness for a fast response to emergencies and disruption. It is about public service and the expertise to deliver the essentials for the community in a time of crisis or emergency.

Government objectives in a crisis situation

When we consider an emergency it is an event or situation which threatens human health, the environment or security of the country. The objectives of the government in an emergency or time of crisis is:

  • Protection of human health and as far as possible to protect property and to alleviate suffering

  • Support and continuity of every day activity and restoration of the disrupted services at the earliest opportunity possible
  • Upholding the rule of law and the democratic process

From a government perspective, there are eight guiding principles of contingency planning:

1. Preparedness: Roles and responsibilities of all the actors and organisations

2. Continuity: The existing situations, albeit disrupted and affected and possibly moving at a difference pace will continue, e.g. continuity of supply in the food chain

3. Subsidiarity: The lowest appropriate level coupled with co-ordination with the highest necessary level of engagement so the management of lower level actors and high level actors

4. Direction: Clarity of purpose and the objectives i.e. establishing that everyone knows exactly what the objectives are, what the ambitions are and what the drive is towards

5. Integration: Co-ordination of all the actors and organisations in the supply chain

6. Communication: Communicate the message to all of the necessary stakeholders i.e. producers, processors, consumers, the general public, government, other organisations and actors

7. Co-operation: Mutual trust and understanding, i.e. getting the people to engage and understand from each others perspective

8. Anticipation: Risk analysis, i.e. identifying the imminent risks and threats

Civil Contingencies

The civil contingencies are the events or situations impacting the community which may or may not occur. There are many things the government will look at when considering civil contingencies including:

  • Horizon Scanning i.e. what is available

  • Risk Assessment i.e. do we know what the risks are and do we need to be concerned about these things

  • Business Continuity Management, i.e. continuity of operations
  • Integrated Emergency Management i.e. getting the actors to work together
  • Preparedness i.e. being prepared and ready to control a crisis situation
  • Validation, response and promotion of recovery and restoration

Contingency planning works across three levels : national ; regional and local. All the public services bodies i.e. emergency services, police and health authorities will be part of the conversation around government contingency planning.

What we would like you to do

In this section we have discussed the objectives and principles of government contingency planning. Please conduct your own internet search’ to identify the actions by government in your region. Please share your results in the comments section below. Don’t forget to include where you are based and any useful links.

You might want to consider the following questions:

  • What is the government doing at a national level to ensure food security?
  • What actions are being taken in your local area to ensure food security?

For example, in Northern Ireland, the Department for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs have published a Q&A with all the contingency plans in place to ensure animal health and welfare and the supply of safe food, available here.

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This article is from the free online course:

Panic-Buying During Crisis: How Do Food Supply Chains Cope?

EIT Food