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Planning and Budgeting

1. Project Plan
2. Budget


Proper planning and budgeting is essential in emergencies and is one of the major challenges of the ICT Emergency Response Manager. The plan and the budget are often expected to be submitted in the first days of the emergency, often long before there has been a chance to visit any of the areas of operation. In the initial stage, lack of information is a limiting factor, which may include lack of all the on ground information regarding affected areas, security situation, existing communications infrastructure or services available. Also there may be lack of  information from your agency such as the number of offices, size of offices, number of vehicles or presence of other humanitarian agencies. Even with gaps in information it is often required that a plan and budget be prepared. If time and the situation allows then an assessment will be the best means of obtaining the needed information, if not possible then it will be necessary to provide best estimates and/or guesses based on experience with similar emergencies. There are a number of tools available for this purpose among them the project plan and the budget.

1. Project plan 

A project plan is similar to a contingency plan; the major difference is that the contingency plan forecasts into the future while a project plan is based on a current and real situation. It is a living document that will follow from the early days of the operation until the end.  The plan must be  updated by ensuring the information is entered as it becomes available. The project plan will be used to obtain funds, to get management buy-in to the project, for progress reporting and for the final handover. However, the guidelines on contingency planning in the Preparedness section still provide direction and important information for drafting a project plan. Please visit our  Preparedness section
Note: the template for the ICT project plan and examples of past plans can be accessed in the document boxes to the right. 

WFP Project Plan template

As with the entire operation, the preparation of the project plan is a collaborative process that requires a grasp of key elements such as scaling operations, understanding and prioritization of services, equipment and staffing needs, procurement, logistics, reporting, monitoring and evaluation, potential closure and handover. Gathering information and managing these elements, introduced in the following outline, forms the bulk of the work the project manager on the ground.
Note: more detailed information on project planning is provided in the Funding and Staffing sections of these guidelines. Governance for the approval of the plan, i.e. submission to the IT Emergency Task Force, is outlined in the Preparedness section.

Prioritization and Scheduling

In an emergency, it is rare to have immediate access to sufficient financial, equipment and human resources to provide all the needed start-up services. Therefore requested services must be delivered in phases and reflected as such in the project plan. Some services will be needed before others and thus must be prioritized, normally in the following order:
  • securing all MOSS /MISTS services for your agency staff;
  • email and voice services;
  • connectivity. 
If mandated by the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) or the Designated Official (DO), or if the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (ETC) is activated, WFP will usually have the lead role in deploying the security and data communications infrastructure for the humanitarian community (other UN agencies, NGOs), and will appoint an ET Cluster Coordinator/Telecommunications Coordinating Officer (TCO). Please visit our Inter-agency section.
Service delivery is prioritized during this planning process and outlined in the plan. However in an environment as fluid as an emergency, priorities can change frequently and must be re-evaluated on a regular basis. Changes in the following areas have implications for the deployment:
  • funding availability;
  •  security phases and security situations;
  •  priorities of ICT’s partners;
  • equipment availability (equipment needed for deployment is unavailable). 


Although it is important to set clear milestones for project management and reporting, the deployment schedule must be flexible to allow for all the issues and changes that are inevitable in an emergency and must take many factors into consideration including:
  • availability of staff for deployment;
  • availability/arrival of equipment;
  • availability of funding;
  •  availability of office space (where and when WFP plans to open offices);
  • in-country transportation (staff and equipment);
  • security restrictions. 
Scheduling should consider the prioritization of services. For example, a plan for the first phase of the response should contain the following:
The specific composition of the consignment depends very much on the environment. However some items are almost always required during the first 3-4 weeks of the operation, including:
  • computers, printers/scanner/fax, etc.;
  • radio communication equipment;
  • data and voice connectivity equipment such as Thuraya Satellite Phones and Inmarsat Broadband Global Area Network terminals (BGAN). Emergency quick deployment kits may be available containing the basics of all above to provide the operational minimum requirements for an office. They are designed to be transported in robust cases as checked in luggage with the first responder(s).
  • ICT Staff 
Staff composition depends on the situation’s specific requirements, e.g.  a UN Security Phase 4 environment normally requires more ICT staff with telecommunications background than a Phase 1 environment. The first period of the operation will normally be labour intensive and must be kept in mind when assigning staff. In general, it is better to mobilize a larger number of staff and then demobilize if/when no longer required to support the operation.
Scheduling should allow for the transition from response to the deployment phase, which is not sharp but gradual, keeping in mind that the operational IT management of the project may not be the same as with the initial response team. Should the IT management on the ground change at this point, all initial decisions and planning information MUST be passed on to the new management. There should be a minimum handover period of 3 days and a comprehensive handover report.


Information required

To prepare the project plan, the following information or the best estimates are required:
  • number of locations that require ICT services/equipment
  • number of users per location
  • number of vehicles per location
  • level of security phase at the various locations
  • types of WFP and inter-agency ICT services that should be provided in each location – for example, support to UNHAS/common inter-agency MOSS compliance
  • current national and WFP ICT infrastructure
  • availability of local/regional markets for purchase and maintenance of equipment and ICT services, recruitment of local staff, etc.
  • country topography, for determining VHF and HF coverage, etc.
  • restrictions on import or usage of specific ICT equipment and communication frequencies
  • deadlines for the various ICT services to be installed and made available to the users
  • nature of the emergency – sudden or slow onset, armed conflict, etc. – which often dictates the priorities and suggests the implementation/deployment strategy
  • availability of cargo and passenger services – e.g. UN cargo flights may reduce equipment cost up to 20 percent
  • projected closure date of the operation


Scaling operations and services

The requirements for each office are based on the initial assessment plus formal and informal meetings. The meetings are mainly with logistics, security and programme staff but contact should also be maintained with administration staff and other stakeholders. It is paramount to observe corporate requirements and policies and not to rely purely on staff requests.
For example, FoodSat (WFP’s private VSAT network) has a high initial cost and is sometimes not prioritized by managers and other business units. However, corporate applications such as WINGS, to which Country Office must have access, depend on reliable connectivity so FoodSat may be mandatory, which will have implications for the rest of the planning and budgeting. Such issues must be taken into consideration when planning and scaling the IT response.
The IT Emergency Sizing Tool spreadsheet can also be helpful in making estimates for necessary infrastructure. The scale of the operation must be based on funding available, so it may not be possible to deploy the entire plan if the operation is under-funded.  


The following presents the basic services that are always provided by IT, and additional services which depend on the type of office – Country Office, Area Office or sub-office.
Country Office
  • email (Lotus Notes)
  •  corporate applications (WINGS, Compas, etc.)
  •  telephony – shared
  • access to internal web applications – WFPgo, Docustore, SPA, epWEB, etc.
  •  Internet
Area Office
  • email (Lotus Notes)
  • telephony – shared
  • access to internal web applications
  • Internet


  • email (Lotus Notes)
  • telephony – shared, single line or satphone
  •  access to internal applications
  • Internet
  • telephony – shared 
There are several other issues concerning standards and telecommunications services that need to be factored into decisions on planning, costs and on the ground management. These are briefly outlined below and are covered in more detail in Resources and Tools/Standards and Services.

Telecommunications licensing

Licensing in most cases is authorized and set up according to the in-country regulations in line with UN Conventions such as the Tampere Convention on the Provision of Telecommunication Resources for Disaster Mitigation and Relief Operations depending on the local situation. (http://www.reliefweb.int/telecoms/tampere/index.html). Other agencies are encouraged to contribute additions input on licenses in the country agreement with the government that stipulate the procedures.
Checks should be carried out, if possible, with the major UN agencies (notably UNDSS, UNICEF, UNHCR, DPKO, WHO and UNDP) that may be operating VHF/HF systems to determine who holds which licences and the processes required for obtaining one.
If no agency has established licences, then the relevant ministry, usually the ministry of communications, should be contacted. However, in special cases, such as a complex emergency or a United Nations Integrated Mission, where there is no in-country licensing body in the emergency situation, it may be possible for WFP to set its own frequencies, in close collaboration with other users of the spectrum, until in-country or UN options can be followed. However, this requires careful consideration and is dependent on the nature of the emergency and the in-country situation.

Connectivity (data and telephony)

Input should be sought from other UN agencies operating in the country/area concerning availability and reliability of telecommunications services. If no other agencies are in place, it is recommended to ask the major telecommunication company to supply telephony services. For Internet service providers (ISPs), it is essential to carry out a background check into the company’s infrastructure, its services, performance, reliability and plans as well as associated charges. This also applies to the supplier for mobile telephone communications. Depending on the availability of local services it may be desirable to get a redundant system by utilizing more then one provider. Installing a special VSAT system (i.e. FoodSat for WFP) may also be considered.


Security telecommunications

Security telecommunications operations should be handled in close liaison with UNDSS  which has the senior advisory role for staff security and, as part of that, telecommunications. Access to high ground and tall buildings needed for the deployment of antennas and repeaters should be investigated. The UN Security Phase must be considered to determine the need and deployment of equipment. However, most emergency planning uses a baseline of Security Phase 3 (as outlined by MOSS).


The solution deployed to meet the voice services requirements depends on office size. A PBX will probably be required, and may need to interface with landlines, VSATs and satphones, therefore:  
  • ensure the PBX has expansion capacity as, in an emergency, an office may double in size
  • ensure the PBX unit has capacity for the type of landlines available on site
  • ensure the PBX interface can match a VSAT if it is deployed (analogue trunks/E1)
  • ensure proper interfaces are available for integrating with GSM and satellite phones
  • determine if wireless phones (DECT) will be required.

Personal computers

When purchasing computers the relative merits of laptops and desktops should be considered.
  •  Laptops – provide mobility for users, requires less space and have internal WLAN which makes them easier and faster to deploy, use less power than a desktop and do not need an uninterruptible power supply (UPS). On the other hand, they are easily stolen, are high maintenance when used outside the private network and are easily broken.
  • Desktops – are durable, have less risk of being stolen but require a UPS.  

 Applications (including financial data)

Some applications, such as operating systems, are provided with the computers. Software licences often take more time to procure then the hardware itself.
Note: see the applications catalogue in the Standards and Central Services section of the Resources and Tools chapter.


A network should be established at the beginning of the operation to share information, printers, and for external connectivity. Existing offices will normally have a network that can be expanded to meet the added requirements. For a new office, it is usually best to establish the LAN in two phases, using a wireless network and limited temporary cabling for the first phase and then designing and deploying a cabled network after the immediate response.
In this way, the LAN can be operational within hours and reused elsewhere when the permanent network has been installed. Due to security issues with wireless, it is important to adhere to corporate standards and guidelines. The cabled LAN must be designed following the corporate guidelines, e.g. the network needs to integrate data and telephony capabilities and segmentation.
All WFP Country Offices are connected to the corporate private network, 90 percent through FoodSat and the others through shared VSAT systems or VPN over Internet. If a new Country Office opens as part of the emergency response, it is essential that the office have a secure link to the private network and access to the network services.

As with the LAN, it is usually best to establish the WAN in two phases, initially using existing connectivity such as Internet or a partner’s VSAT to establish a secure tunnel to the private network and then deploying a FoodSat station that provides direct connectivity to the private network as well as voice services. 


WFP operations depend on reliable and secure exchange of information that the corporate email system provides, which uses the Lotus Domino platform and the Lotus Notes client interface.

The main/Country Office should always have a Domino server. However, staff on short, temporary duty missions (less than one month) will normally replicate directly with their Domino server at their home duty station. 


Electrical service can have the largest negative impact if not done properly. An unstable, unreliable or badly designed electricity supply network will not only damage or destroy the equipment, but it poses a danger to staff safety. 

There are two main solutions for electricity supply that are used as follows:  

  • Mains with generator backup

Publicly provided electricity is the main source with agency provided generators used as a backup. To ensure stable power when running the mains, all electricity provided to ICT equipment should be filtered through voltage regulators and UPSs. 

  • Generator only

When public electricity supply is not available or is too unstable and/or low voltage to be utilized it will be necessary to operate an agency generator(s) on a permanent basis. The main generator may need to be shut down overnight to save fuel, then the plan must include a smaller generator to continue powering vital ICT equipment as well as security flood lights. 

It is important that all security telecommunications equipment (radios, repeaters) are additionally backed up by a solar power system!

It is important to distinguish between generators used as backup and those used on permanent basis. This difference is explained in the Generator Sizing Matrix.

If electricity supply and distribution networks (public and office) are unreliable or below WFP standards an electrician must be included in the staffing plan. An experienced electrician from FITTEST or TDY can be used for the initial period to assist with upgrading networks and to train a local person who eventually can take over the responsibility. This local support can be WFP staff (existing or recruited), a local individual or a company.  


Logistical considerations are critical to the response design. Without proper planning, IT staff may not reach the area of operations or move around once there, or equipment might not arrive where and when it is urgently needed. Thus, without good logistics, IT will not be able to fulfil its mandate.

The WFP Logistics Unit/Logistics Cluster is both a client of IT and a provider of central support services. It can provide information on shipping and customs clearance procedures and available capacity, and arrange the movement of ICT equipment and staff, which may require complex considerations and decisions.  

Note: more details on these issues can be found in the Equipment, Procurement and Logistics section of these guidelines.

Equipment sources

WFP has a number of suppliers, both internal and external. In emergency situations, delivery time is critical because equipment is needed immediately to implement the projects. Since internal suppliers are familiar with requirements and have experience shipping to difficult locations quickly, they should normally be used to cover the immediate needs. WFP’s support office in Dubai maintains comprehensive stocks and can quickly procure items not in stock. Also long-term agreements (LTAs) with external suppliers reduce procurement and delivery time at very competitive prices.  

Thus, it is important to consider all options, including the support necessary to procure and maintain equipment inventories, as this will need to be included in the plan and the budget.

The excel spreadsheet/visual aid have been developed to help outline service requirements.

The first is an Emergency Services Diagram for WFP operations outlining the standards of communication equipment and services that will be provided and the associated time frames. 

 Note: for more details see the Equipment, Procurement and Logistics section of these guidelines. 


 Once the project design is complete, human resource requirements must be identified and deployed. WFP has established a comprehensive pool of human resources for emergency operations including the IT Emergency Team, FITTEST, standby partners, TDYs and consultants. The procedures for activation, deployment and demobilization differ, depending on the staffing pool selected. TOR and required skills have been defined in order to expedite mobilization of the following staff for emergency response:

  • management team
  • responsible officer
  • IT lead
  • logistics liaison officer
  • technical team
  •  TC/IT, finance, administration, support
  • daily labour 

Costs also vary depending on the staffing pool, travel required, staff level, etc. and must be considered in preparing the budget. 

Note: For detailed information on staffing pools, TOR and activation see the Human Resources section of these guidelines.

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2. Budgeting


The budget must cover the costs for the entire project, including potential handover/closure expenses and the post emergency evaluations including developing lessons learned.

Key costs considerations are as follows:

  • equipment (capital) costs, including licensing;
  • equipment management maintenance costs (storage);
  • staffing costs (including any required travel and DSA);
  • procurement and logistics costs;
  • recurring costs [telecommunications (voice, VSAT, satphone, BGAN, etc.) support, administration, possible licensing, maintenance, fuel, etc.];
  • demobilization/closure costs (including developing lessons learned);
  • procurement and logistics costs;
  • training costs for staff outside ICT (e.g. radio training).

In addition there can be costs related to:

  • equipment delivery delays;
  • local regulations;
  • customs transit delays;
  • staff mobilization/recruitment delays;
  • changing operational requirements/contingency costs.

Note: For more information on staffing, equipment and logistics see specific sections of these guidelines, and the tools for estimating cost for the overall budget.

Sample ICT budgets and budget templates are available into planning and budgeting section, and additional information can be found for:  budget preparation, budget tracking (non-WINGS), inventory of financial and support resources

The IT Emergency Management Application (EMMA) is very useful system for the preparation of budget estimations and for operational management throughout the emergency operation.


Clearance and Approval

The IT officer must be familiar with the structure of the special types of budgets used in emergency situations and the clearance and approval process. WFP has 2 different types EMergency OPerations (EMOP) and Special Operations (SO). An emergency will usually have an EMOP and several SOs. Depending on the nature of the expense, the IT budget can be distributed among Direct Support Costs (DSCs), Other Direct Operational Costs (ODOCs), and Landside Transportation, Storage and Handling (LTSH) and spread over several projects. To avoid inadvertent mistakes, it must be noted that the standard EMOP/SO budget template has a different structure from the IT budget template.

WFP has prepared detailed guidelines covering on all aspects of EMOPS and SOs (see: http://pgm.wfp.org/index.php/Main_Page)

Flash Appeal

In a sudden-onset emergency, the time to prepare cost requirements is very short. The requirements of the humanitarian community are consolidated in the flash appeal which is normally launched within a week of the start of the emergency (link to Guidelines for Flash Appeal). Should the requirements of the humanitarian community change considerably after the flash appeal has been launched, a revision is only possible if requested within a week after launch. 

As a result, in order to ensure that the ICT budget will be included in the flash appeal/EMOP, the budget for the ICT response is often developed before the operational plan is complete. In fact, the flash appeal/EMOP is often being created and submitted to donors as staff leave for an emergency. 

General steps for preparing the budget and the operational plan are outlined below. Build the budget in advance is largely based on experience. Estimating a budget accurately requires:

  • close coordination with other units, especially programme and logistics;
  • understanding of the scope of the emergency response, particularly as size and operational requirements are likely to be changing continuously during the period of the initial appeal;
  • understanding of prioritization, services, equipment and personnel.

It is important to have a broad comprehension of the budgeting considerations before preparing the budget. This section outlines the input and steps for the operational planning and then presents the specifics of the budget process.  

Both the project plan and budget may need to be updated as the situation on the ground changes. They become management tools for the emergency and serve as resources for monitoring and evaluation of the project deployment and for extracting and documenting lessons learned.  

Note: specific measurements and milestones that should be considered in the development of the operational plan are outlined in the Monitoring and Evaluation section of these guidelines.

Daily financial management and budget tracking

Budget codes and budget allotments must be verified before committing any expenditure, and includes accounting for all cross-project budgets. Before providing a budget code the following must be checked/confirmed:

  • Are sufficient funds available for the project? If not, it may be necessary to have more money “pushed down”’ to the project or to find an alternative funding source – talk to Finance!
  • Can the budget be utilized for the said expenditure?
  • If spending is from a funding source managed by another unit/person, ensure that unit/person authorizes the expenditure in advance, even if previously agreed that ICT will provide services against this budget.

Setup of financial plan

It is advisable to have the finance officer create a reserve fund in WINGS for each of the four areas (equipment, travel, consultants and communications services) the manager will track. 

The EMMA Operations Module is to be used to establish and manage each of the four funding areas and to plan the future expenditure of the emergency. WINGS is used to track the actual spending. The reconciliation of these must be performed by the manager to ensure that no one else is spending against the WINGS reservation.  


The IT manager will always need to be aware of the total ICT budget (WINGS), funds spent/committed (purchase order (PO) in WINGS), planned expenditure (purchase requisition (PR) in WINGS) and future needs (EMMA). 

WINGS gives a good overview of expenditure levels (current commitments and expenditures). It is less useful for planning, although it gives a remaining budget balance based on data entered.  

In exceptional cases, purchases might be done manually and the information later added into the corporate financial system (WINGS for WFP). If this is happening in your emergency, be aware when evaluating expenditures and available funds, the information cannot be relied upon. These limitations must be mentioned in any report distributed.

In addition to the corporate finical system (WINGS) other tools might be provided to extract data in a presentable standardized format, such as the MFAR (Monthly Financial Analysis Report) application which extracts information from both EMOP and SO projects.

In general, it is necessary to track:

  • corporate financial system (WINGS for WFP) monthly budget reports and compare them to manually recorded records;
  • any discrepancies, along with an investigation and accounting of these.

 The manager needs to ensure that:

  • subtracting the total amount of any POs or PRs from the total budget gives an amount that can be used for planning in EMMA; and
  • the EMMA balance is sufficient to meet the needs of the remainder of the operation.

 If EMMA and WINGS are not available, an ICT budget tracking sheet must be kept, to follow expenditures raised and budgeted under the EMOP/SO. This basic document should be updated daily but at least weekly to ensure that all information is tracked and available. This is crucial for auditing, which tends to occur early in large emergencies. In addition, it is necessary to work closely with the finance team to ensure follow-up and verification of expenditures.  


  • Financial reports and status should be shared with applicable stakeholders, particularly the RITO and OMIF, on a regular basis and whenever a change occurs;
  • The RITO must clear all financial reports before they are delivered to the Country Director, finance officer or, for inter-agency operations, the Humanitarian Coordinator.

 Sources of information

  • Finance officer – budget codes

There are four main areas where costs should be controlled on a daily or weekly basis, each has a standard general ledger (GL) code: equipment, travel, consultants and communications services. The finance officer can provide information on expenditures undertaken by HR.

  • Budget officer – budget codes

In a large emergency, there may be an assigned budget officer who provides budget codes.

  • Procurement officer

Follow up with the procurement officer to ensure that PRs are turned into POs in a timely matter. The procurement officer handles the tendering, if applicable, and creates the PO. Once equipment is received, a goods receipt note (GRN) must be raised either manually or in WINGS either by IT officer or the procurement officer. If the latter then the IT officer must monitored and confirm.

Closure financial plan
Financial closure requires a comparison of the budget against actual expenditures and an explanation of any differences, e.g. there could be undelivered goods, outstanding payments or delays in WINGS updates that need to be explained. A final reconciliation of the WINGS/
EMMA/tracking sheet must be made to ensure all expenditures are recorded in WINGS.  

The IT manager should write a report explaining the qualitative aspects of the financial management. For example, actual costs may have differed from the standard estimates, the scope may have changed or purchases which could not be used due to scope changes.

 All GRNs should have been entered into WINGS. For POs without GRNs (i.e. not entered into the system), there will be issues or explanations such as incomplete equipment arrivals, outstanding invoices and undelivered invoices.

 Pitfall or risks
The manager will need to work with the procurement officer to define vendor creation.

 Finance shortfalls can be the result of several causes such as:

  • operation funded only partially;
  • funds allotted slowly;
  • budget code used by other units (must be followed up immediately with the finance officer or, if known, the entity spending your funds);
  • overspending/poor estimate/expanded scope (should be brought to attention of management with a proposal for a budget correction or revision.

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