Original Research

Contingency planning in southern Africa: Events rather than processes?

Elias Mabaso, Siambabala B. Manyena
Jàmbá: Journal of Disaster Risk Studies | Vol 5, No 1 | a95 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/jamba.v5i1.95 | © 2013 Elias Mabaso, Siambabala B. Manyena | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 May 2013 | Published: 30 September 2013

About the author(s)

Elias Mabaso, Department of Geography, Bindura University of Science Education, Zimbabwe
Siambabala B. Manyena, Faculty of Engineering and Environment, Northumbria University, United Kingdom

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With the increasing frequency, magnitude and impact of disasters, there is growing focus on contingency planning as a tool for enhancing resilience. Yet, there is little empirical evidence that reflects on the practice of contingency planning systems within the context of disaster risk reduction. This article explores the practice of contingency planning in southern Africa, focussing on Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. A qualitative comparative analysis informed by fieldwork was used. The findings show that (1) there was a wide gap between theory and practice in contingency planning, (2) response activities rarely reflected projected scenarios and (3) resources were inadequate for effective contingency planning. We conclude that unless these issues are addressed, contingency planning is likely to remain a theoretical rather than a practical tool for building disaster-resilient communities in southern African countries. Although a generalisation cannot be made on the status of contingency planning and practice in southern Africa without a wider analysis of more examples, the findings may apply beyond the examined contexts and also offer insights into research gaps.


Contingency planning; disaster risk reduction; preparedness; scenario; response planning


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