Background: In the fall of 2013, International Medical Corps and its corporate partners (Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd.) conducted a three-part workshop series on Business Continuity Planning (BCP) to help local Japanese non-government organizations (NGOs) create solutions to risk-related challenges and better prepare for future emergency response and recovery efforts. Due to popular demand, International Medical Corps conducted another similar workshop series from February – May of 2014.
During several follow-up conversations with organizations that participated in previous BCP planning workshops, International Medical Corps learned that many were still facing difficulties getting all of their staff members to gain an understanding of what their BCP is, and the importance of preparing for emergency situations at the headquarters level.
Advanced BCP Training: To assist the capacity-building efforts of these organizations, International Medical Corps is offering advanced BCP training for willing organizations. On August 5, 2014, AAR Japan was the first organization to accept the opportunity to have International Medical Corps and Tokio Marine facilitate a private tabletop exercise to give AAR Japan’s management staff a taste of what it would be like for them react in an emergency situation.
In total, 17 staff members from AAR Japan, including the director-general and senior management staff members, participated in the two-hour simulation exercise. The participants were divided by their work departments (i.e. administration, communications, and operations), and the disaster scenario was set as follows:
An earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale hits Tokyo at 10:30AM, with 70% of the Greater Tokyo Area experiencing a quake of 6.0 or stronger. Buildings are damaged and fires ensue in multiple neighborhoods. Everyone in the AAR Japan building evacuates to a nearby public park... 2 hours later, it is confirmed that the AAR Japan building is safe to re-enter.
The simulation exercise was divided into two parts: (1) the initial response (between 12:30 – 2pm, approximately two hours after the earthquake); and (2) restoration of operations.
Part 2 of the exercise was further divided into Phase I and Phase II: Phase I started at 2pm, three and a half hours after the earthquake, running until the end of day one; and Phase II covered the day after the disaster:
Phase 1 (2pm): Power outages continue, and office desktop PCs are unusable. Internet connectivity to laptop PCs and cell phones is minimal and the server cannot be accessed. AAR had originally been planning to send money to its overseas operations but they now cannot wire money via net-banking because they cannot use the internet. Calls to the bank are not going through and it is unclear whether the banks are operating.
Phase 2 (the day after the disaster): Train and subway systems have been shut down in many parts of the Tokyo Area; traffic congestion continues. Due to transportation difficulties, as well as, damage to homes and/or affected family members some AAR staff are unable to come in to work. Around 60% of the staff are available, either because they stayed in the office overnight or are able to walk to work the next day. Scheduled power outages have also started, and Laptop PCs and mobile phones will soon run out of their batteries and cannot be recharged. Donors and members have been trying to reach the office with offers of donations but have largely been unsuccessful. Staff members who had stayed overnight are showing signs of exhaustion.
The workshop facilitator gave each group timed tasks in accordance to the specific timelines (for example, during the initial response, each group had 20 minutes to brainstorm and come up with their department’s list of priority tasks that need to be completed within the first two hours of the disaster). During the simulation of the initial response, AAR Japan received regular situational updates by monitoring reports on a large TV screen regarding traffic conditions, public transportation conditions, fires, power outages, etc. Each group was then responsible to keep up with the updates while also working on their assigned tasks. The Director-General oversaw all activities at a distance and received reports from each group regarding updates and priority work areas.
Results: Through this fast-paced exercise, many issues that had yet to be resolved with AAR Japan came to light, including:
Overall, the feedback from the participants was very positive, including the following comments:
Masayuki Okada, Administrative Officer and the focal point for this BCP exercise, summed up his impressions by saying, “I think this exercise helped us all to realize how much work we still have to do to prepare ourselves for a disaster. We always meant to, but never got around to stockpiling emergency supplies such as food, water, and disposable toilets for our staff. If we lose electricity, most if not all of our work will grind to a halt, so we seriously need to consider investing in a generator.”
Mr. Okada continued, “Other issues include not having an alternative workspace if our office ever became damaged, and how our BCP doesn’t specify which staff member is in charge of certain roles in case of an emergency. This exercise allowed us to experience a little bit of the chaos a disaster causes, and has helped management-level staff to have a better appreciation of the urgency of these issues. Now that we all have this shared sense of urgency, this is the ideal time to push forward with strengthening our level of preparedness. Additionally, we will be sharing the highlights of this exercise with other staff at our annual ‘Joint Conference for Internationally-Posted Staff & HQ Staff,’ which will be held at the end of this month. We truly appreciate the opportunity International Medical Corps and Tokio Marine has given us, and we will be sure not to waste the lessons we learned through this exercise.”
International Medical Corps’ work in Japan focuses on disaster risk reduction and training for local organizations – so they are better prepared to face a future emergency and meet the needs of local communities. Our team works hand-in-hand with these local organizations to identify gaps in emergency preparedness and response efforts, and help build their response capacity so they can effectively respond to a local emergency even if they are directly affected by the disaster.
In the fall of 2013, International Medical Corps and our corporate partners conducted a three-part workshop series on Business Continuity Planning to help local Japanese non-government organizations (NGOs) create solutions to risk-related challenges and better prepare for future emergency response and recovery efforts. When asked about issues not covered in the first series of workshops, NGO participants said that information management and information security remained a major concern when delivering humanitarian assistance.
While many Japanese NGOs understand they have a responsibility to protect their information, they often do not have the systems, policies, or procedures necessary to protect the information against various elements of risk. When a disaster strikes, the need for proper information management techniques becomes even more critical, as new information regarding program needs and beneficiaries can increase exponentially. At the same time, systems to safely and securely store information about program participants may be affected by the disaster and subsequent power outages and resource restrictions. Based on feedback from the local NGOs, International Medical Corps worked with local, corporate partners Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd., both experts in risk management, to create a three-part workshop to help organizations meet the increased information management demands that come with a disaster response.
On February 25, 2014, International Medical Corps successfully conducted part one of this series. Nozomi Kawashima (a certified Information Privacy Consultant at Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Ltd.) and Yosuke Sakamoto (Senior Consultant in the Business Risks Department at Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co.) jointly taught participating NGO management staff members about the fundamentals of information management. After hearing specific examples of information management risks faced by corporations and discussing examples from their own organizations, program participants identified common information security risks and worked in groups to complete an information assets identification exercise based on a case study of an imaginary NGO. This exercise helped these local organizations better appreciate and identify security and information managements risks in their own organizations.
The second workshop, held on April 23, 2014, continued using the case study of the imaginary NGO from the previous session. Groups were asked to imagine they were all working for this particular NGO that mistakenly leaked private information about its beneficiaries on a public domain, and to work backwards to identify specific steps it could have taken to prevent this problem from occurring, again helping organizations to better manage security risks in their own entities.
During the third workshop session on May 20, 2014, organizations were given advice about how to monitor and continuously improve their information management process, as well as, how to raise awareness and educate their staff on a regular basis regarding the do’s and don’ts of dealing with information.
Assignments were given to participants before and after each workshop, and the lessons were shared internally with their staff members so that the trainings transferred beyond just the individuals participating in the workshop. At the end of the workshop series, each NGO was equipped with the tools to create its own information management and risk assessment systems that fit its respective organizational needs, including a comprehensive template for an information management rulebook that can be tailored to their organization’s context.
Below are some quotes from the workshop participants describing how this series helped their organizations:
Nozomi Ashida, Administrative Manager for Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) Japan - “With the guidance of the experts, we were able to really look at what kinds of information our organization deals with and the different risks we faced with each kind. Once we finish creating our guidelines, we will hold study sessions within our organization so all the staff can have a shared understanding of what information management is for us and to make sure we are all able to implement the new rules.”
Junya Hosono, Administrative Manager for Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC) – “Step by step, the workshops led me through the information management process and was easy to follow. I also appreciated that the consultants incorporated examples based on the unique circumstances of NGOs when preparing the workshop material. This made it easy for me to understand the lectures and group activities and was also helpful when I reviewed all the material again on my own. I’m eager to share what I’ve learned with my colleagues and really start building JVC’s information management system.
Yoko Asakawa, Information Manager for JEN – “I joined these workshops because, as JEN’s Information Manager, I felt the need to improve our level of information security. This series allowed me to gain a comprehensive understanding of the concepts behind information management. Through the workshop, group activities, and homework assignments, I was able to “do” as I learned and actually go through the process of creating new rules and regulations for my organization, which further deepened my understanding of the topic. The workshops were very practical, and I gained some hints on how I can share what I’ve learned about information security within my organization.”
An often overlooked factor in disaster response concerning non-government organizations (NGOs) is being able to remain functional after a disaster damages the area where their operations are based. In order for an NGO to deliver relief services to the affected local populations, they must not only survive the disaster themselves, but have a plan in place to ensure that they are able to immediately deliver relief to local populations. International Medical Corps is continuing to work with corporate experts in Business Continuity Planning (BCP) by delivering a second series of disaster preparedness workshops designed to help local Japanese NGOs create solutions to risk-related challenges and better prepare for future emergency response and recovery efforts.
Last Fall, International Medical Corps and corporate experts delivered a three-part workshop series on Business Continuity Planning (BCP). When asked about issues not covered in the first series of workshops, NGO participants said that information management is a major concern when delivering humanitarian assistance. Whether during an emergency or in stable circumstances, NGOs need to gather, store, process and communicate large amounts of information, some of which is potentially sensitive. Sensitive information may include personal data about beneficiaries, staff, partners and donors, as well as, internal information about their operations. Many Japanese NGOs realize the need to protect the sensitive information they have been entrusted with, but they often do not have the systems, policies, or procedures necessary to protect the information against various elements of risk.
To address these concerns, International Medical Corps is renewing their partnership with veteran experts from two premier Japanese risk management corporations, Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd. This new three-part workshop series is focused on Information Management, and is designed to give Japanese NGOs practical knowledge on how to better manage and protect their information.
At the end of the workshop series, each NGO will have created its own information management rulebook that fits its respective organizational needs. Assignments are given to participants before and after each workshop, and the lessons are shared internally with their staff members so that the training is transferred beyond the individuals participating in the workshop.
Workshop Part 1: “An Introduction to Information Management for NGOs”
On February 25, 2014, International Medical Corps successfully conducted part one of this three-workshop series, in which a total of 20 key staff members from 13 organizations participated.
Nozomi Kawashima (a certified Information Privacy Consultant at Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Ltd.) and Yosuke Sakamoto (Senior Consultant in Business Risks Department at Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co.) jointly taught participating NGO management staff members about the fundamentals of information management. The topics covered included:
Computer viruses, hacking, information mishandling, and damage/destruction of equipment due to accidents or natural disasters were among the various hazards discussed. During the lecture, the consultants introduced examples from their own corporate sector, including the major risks that have been documented by corporations, and various initiatives being undertaken to protect their information. In small group discussions, NGO personnel shared examples from their own experiences and compared corporate risks with the risks they saw within their own organizations.
NGO staff agreed that among the most common risks they faced in information security included: the failure of staff to identify sensitive information and/or not taking extra precautions to protect it; the lack of a clearly communicated policy within their organization around information security; and the lack of IT skills among staff to enable effective implementation of information security measures.
To encourage the participants to think strategically about information management, the consultants accentuated their lecture with case study activities. They introduced an example of an NGO worker who had taken home confidential beneficiary data in order to work on a report with a fast-approaching deadline, only to have her home PC infected by a computer virus that proceeded to steal all of the data. Participants discussed what measures the organization should take to handle this situation responsibly and to minimize negative consequences. Afterwards, the consultants commented on the proposed approaches and gave their own advice about how they would deal with this scenario. For the last 30 minutes of the workshop, participants worked in groups to complete an information assets identification exercise based on a case study of an imaginary NGO by using the lessons they learned during the lecture.
Workshop Part 2 (scheduled in April 2014): “Risk Assessment and Prioritization for Information Management.”
Workshop 2 will focus on practical training by incorporating a variety of group-work activities and discussions based on specific scenarios. Topics the NGOs will examine at this workshop include: assessing the nature of information collected by each organization; assessing the risks to beneficiaries, staff members, and the organization as a whole if a breach of their information occurs; assessing current physical, digital, and communication information security measures; and identifying potential vulnerabilities (e.g., failures in awareness and/or security procedures) and how to address them.
Workshop Part 3 (scheduled in May 2014): “Countermeasures for Information Management and Creating Information Management Procedures”
Based on their work in the previous workshops, each NGO will create an informational management rulebook that meets its organizational needs. The BCP experts will provide feedback to each organization’s draft and offer suggestions/advice for improvement.
After Japanese Scientists at Tokyo University and Global Seismologists predicted a 70% chance of a 7+ Richter-scale earthquake hitting Japan by 2016, the majority of Japanese non-government organizations realized that ensuring their organizations integrity when they are hit by a disaster is critical to being able to deliver relief to local populations. In response to this realization, International Medical Corps began working with seasoned business continuity planning (BCP) experts from two premier Japanese risk management corporations (Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd.), and have successfully completed a three-part workshop series that taught local humanitarian aid organizations the fundamentals of business continuity planning.
Through a combination of lectures and hands-on practical exercises that took participating non-government organizations (NGOs) through a simulated disaster; potential risks were identified (e.g., closed roads, power outages, etc.); the specific tasks staff members must complete to ensure that they are functional and able to fulfill their mandate after the disaster were established; people were assigned responsible for each task; and special strategies that must be used as part of the planning process were decided upon.
Participants then developed a list of action items, including timeframes, to ensure the implementation of their plan was realistic and carried out in a timely manner. At the end of the series, each NGO was able to create a simple, practical BCP plan that fits its organizational needs. A total of 25 individuals from 17 organizations completed this course. For those organizations requesting additional assistance, BCP experts also provided feedback to the organization’s BCP draft and offered suggestions/advice for improvement.
The response from the participants was overwhelmingly positive. Here are a few examples of the feedback we received:
Hiroyuki Kakuho, Administrative Manager for Japan Platform (JPF):
“JPF is known as an emergency response organization. It is vital that we are able to function during an emergency. Clearly identifying what we need to do to be ready in a time of crisis and making appropriate preparations has always been a core issue, but we had been unable to really work on any concrete plans with everyone being busy with their own day-to-day work. We also didn’t know where to begin to better prepare ourselves. This BCP workshop was very important in teaching our staff specific techniques on how to think through and create a BCP plan that fits our organization’s needs. Since we were getting trained with other NGOs, we also benefited from sharing our concerns, ideas and experiences with each other, which allowed us to gain hints as to how to create a more realistic plan of action.”
“We found the BCP creation process outlined by the experts very thorough and with a logical flow. We were surprised at how the workshops spent a lot of time on practical exercises. It was also great that the assignments we received between workshops helped focus our discussions and prepared us for the next lessons. We also appreciated how there was ample time between the three workshops so that we had some time to go back to our organization and think through various issues. We were able to share the BCP learning process with our other colleagues and discuss what should go into our BCP plan.”
“We are currently updating our simple BCP based on what we learned at this workshop series. We are looking forward to more of the same kind of practical workshops from International Medical Corps that will build our capacity and help us to more effectively do our work.”
Japan Platform (JPF) is an international emergency humanitarian aid organization made up of 44 member NGOs, the majority of which do emergency humanitarian aid throughout the world. JPF conducts aid through a tripartite cooperation system, where NGOs, business community, and government of Japan work in close cooperation, based on equal partnership.
Masayuki Okada, Administrative Manager for Association for Aid and Relief (AAR) Japan:
“AAR Japan has been concerned about how we would respond if a natural disaster should strike our own headquarters in the greater Tokyo area, a likelihood we know all too well could happen in the future. When we heard about this opportunity to learn about BCP directly from BCP experts, we thought this would be a great chance to brush up on our organization’s BCP approach.”
“Two staff members from AAR Japan including myself participated in these workshops. We learned many specific techniques such as how to calculate the number of staff that would likely be able to come to the office if transportation routes were closed and how to identify priority tasks for our operations during an emergency as opposed to normal times. We also realized that we faced serious issues if the building in which our office is located becomes inaccessible, such as losing the ability to access any of the data we have stored on our server or any workspace our staff would need to carry out their tasks even if they could make it to the office. Thanks to these lessons, we are now creating a backup plan for saving our data and are considering moving our office to a newer building with more advanced earthquake resistance.”
“This workshop even included a review of AAR Japan’s BCP plan by the experts, something we would have had great difficulty getting on our own. Japanese NGOs in general have a great budget limitation, and so getting expert advice is extremely difficult.”
“Based on what we learned, AAR Japan has already started to improve upon a number of measures we already had in place, such as our procedures to check on the safety of our staff and measures to better utilize our satellite phones to ensure communication in case both landlines and mobile phone lines crash during an emergency. We plan on reviewing our BC plan on a regular basis within our organization and make sure that our staff are aware of what is in the BC plan. We hope to run simulations with staff to test how the BCP plan would work. We ask for International Medical Corps and the BCP experts to continue to support our efforts to prepare ourselves for emergencies.”
Association for Aid and Relief, Japan (AAR Japan) is a NGO focusing on emergency assistance, assistance to persons with disabilities, and Mine/UXO action. AAR Japan initiated Tohoku aid and relief activities one day after the Great East Japan Earthquake and they have been engaged in emergency and recovery assistance in the affected areas ever since.
Kazutaka Ueda, Senior Program Manager for SEEDS Asia:
“SEEDS Asia was only created in 2006 and so is still a young NGO. Until 3 years ago, we only had 5 staff members. During these last years we’ve expanded our projects and now have 3 branch offices. It was perfect timing for us when we learned about International Medical Corps’ BCP training, because within our organization we were recently discussing the need to have a continuity plan in the case of an emergency like a natural disaster. We jumped at the chance to participate and traveled the over 500km from Kobe to Tokyo for the workshops.”
“What drew us to this workshop was the fact that it wasn’t just a lecture but a workshop that would actually result in creating a BCP. Like most small NGOs in Japan, we are extremely limited in human and financial resources, and we hadn’t had the time to spend making a BC plan on our own. If we hadn’t participated in a workshop like this that let us put words on paper (i.e., a written BCP), we would probably have never been able to create our own BCP. In addition, it was important that we shared the BCP process with our staff so we are all on the same page about how we should respond in case of an emergency.”
“It was wonderful to be able to ask questions and receive advice from BCP experts specific to our organization’s needs. Being able to have this one-on-one advice increased the practicality of our BC plan and helped us think more deeply about what we can do to be operationally functioning when disaster strikes at our own doorstep.”
SEEDS Asia has been conducting activities in Asia Pacific region related to development, environmental management and community-based Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). In Kesennuma City, SEEDS Asia has been assisting community building at temporary housing sites, organizing meetings for leaders of temporary housing sites, conducting DRR education/Education for Sustainable Development (ESD).
In January of 2012, Japanese Scientists at Tokyo University and Global Seismologists released a report that put forward a 70% chance of a 7+ Richter-scale earthquake hitting Japan in the next 4 years. Due to this prediction, a significant disaster risk reduction effort is ongoing in Japan, and International Medical Corps is working with local partners to build the capacity of local community-based organizations.
The majority of Japanese Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) now realize that ensuring their organization’s integrity when they themselves are hit by a disaster is essential to their ability to provide humanitarian aid quickly and efficiently to affected populations. However, many of these organizations do not have the necessary resources and technical know-how to make such preparations. To fill this crucial gap, International Medical Corps is providing risk management expertise to NGOs and helping them to prepare a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) so that they will be ready to respond to future disasters.
International Medical Corps and seasoned BCP experts from two premier Japanese risk management corporations (Tokio Marine & Nichido Risk Consulting Co., Ltd., and Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Co., Ltd.) are conducting a three-part workshop series that begins with teaching local organizations the fundamentals of business continuity planning; and finishes with each NGO creating a simple, practical BCP plan that fits its respective organizational needs. Assignments are given to participants after the workshops, and are taken back to their organizations to facilitate BCP implementation and to ensure that the BCP drafting exercise is applicable to the organizations.
Workshop Part 1 (August 20, 2013): “An Introduction to Business Continuity Planning for NGOs”
International Medical Corps, together with its corporate partners and Japan Platform (the consortium of Japanese Emergency Response NGOs), successfully conducted Part One of this three-workshop series. A total of 28 staff members from 19 organizations participated in this workshop.
Yumi Terahata, International Medical Corps Country Representative, introduced the day’s topic and presented on the need for NGOs to keep themselves functional in times of emergency so they can recover quickly from a disaster and effectively provide assistance to the affected population. Takahiro Ono, BCP Manager at Mitsubishi Corporation Insurance Ltd., taught participating NGO senior management personnel about risk management and the various steps that go into an ever-evolving business continuity plan. Workshop participants then completed a BCP simulation exercise of an emergency scenario, incorporating what they learned during the previous lecture and basing their responses on their own organization’s unique resources and capacities.
Workshop Part 2 (scheduled for September 11, 2013): “Risk Assessment and Priority Action Items.”
Topics the NGOs will examine at this workshop include: identifying the particular risks they face (e.g. natural disaster, etc.), the specific tasks they must complete to ensure that they are functional and able to fulfill their mandate after the disaster, persons responsible for each task, and special considerations that must be addressed as part of the planning process. Participants will then develop a list of action items, including timeframes, to address the implementation of their plan.
Workshop Part 3 (scheduled for October 9, 2013):
Based on their work in the previous workshops, each NGO will draft a BCP plan that meets its organizational needs. BCP experts will provide feedback to each organization’s BCP draft and offer suggestions/advice for improvement.
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