Disaster Resilience and Emergency Planning for Food Security

The Disaster Resilience and Emergency Planning for Food Security Project (the Project) was an initiative delivered by the Western Australian Council of Social Service (WACOSS) and funded by the Commonwealth Government National Disaster Risk Reduction program, with support from the State Emergency Management Committee.

Food insecurity increases with disasters and the emergency food sector has little evidence, if any to rely on to estate the level of need, the types and amount of food required to plan their responses to communities in need. This Project aimed to develop a strategic food policy and place—based planning template that could be used in disaster planning at both a state and local level.

The Project built on existing policy, previous inquiries into emergency response, and the WA Food Relief Framework. It incorporates the knowledge and experience of community organisations, local state government agencies.


Table of Contents

Emergency Management Theory of Change

This diagram was developed alongside this Project. Represented as a triangle, this diagram illustrates both the current state of Emergency Management (EM) and our envisioned future for best practice. Currently, we have National, State and Local EM systems that sit largely external to any community, cultural and social systems. Our community consultation and pilot site workshops found that by better incorporating the bottom layer of this diagram, communities will have higher community resilience and trust in their local governments. 

Explanation of Model:

Top triangle  Traditionally, the emergency management sector has had sole responsibility to lead the emergency management system via formal emergency management arrangements including government departments, policy makers and legislators. The emergency management system operates as a top down, command and control approach to hazard management and disaster risk reduction.

Base:  In contrast to the emergency management system, community systems are likely to be organised by bottom up community development principles and activities. Communities have a critical contribution to make to emergency management, however, are poorly resourced and rarely included in emergency management planning.


Middle Arrows describe the changes needed to enable Western Australia to integrate the capacity and capability of both the emergency management sector and community sector to work in partnership to reduce disaster risk and manage emergencies.

Middle Yellow  Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction is the process of enabling communities to partner and plan for the use of resources, social and cultural assets to contribute to emergency management, supporting communities to adopt measures to reduce community vulnerability. However, legislation, policy and funding reform is needed to incentivise and encourage inter-sector partnerships, projects, networks and collaborative community planning to better able the reduction of community disaster risk and the protection of vulnerable and at-risk populations.

Top Yellow Arrow Formal Emergency Management Arrangements have a fundamental role in disaster risk reduction and the management of emergencies. However, with our changing climate and the escalating frequency and intensity of hazard events, it is no longer adequate to rely alone only on the emergency management sector.

Bottom Yellow Arrow The Sendai Global Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction provides guidance to ensure all sectors of society are well resourced and supported to contribute to disaster risk reduction. This is especially important for people who live with disproportionate risk and vulnerability.

Project Overview

The Project delivered a range of outputs for community and government to strengthen disaster food coordination, planning and preparedness. Outputs included customising two web-based platforms, updating the Food Stress Index, developing a handbook and guide for applying the FSI to food relief planning, developing food security planning templates, and a correspondence guide to support implementation of the outputs. Further detail on the achievements is outlined below.

Project Approach

The project applied an action research approach which enabled continuous refinement and flexibility to manage project risks and opportunities. 

This project was designed with people who live with disproportionate risk and vulnerability in mind and at the heart. We ensured at-risk populations were considered at every stage of the project by seeking out and including advocates at the state and local levels. This included during the project’s development, the working group and participants in local workshops. In recognition of the valuable contribution made by unwaged advocates, the project paid remuneration in line with the WACOSS Lived Experience Framework.

This partnership approach recognises that when we include people and communities in emergency preparedness, we empower them to build capacity, reduce risk and contribute to emergency management in line with formal state, district and local arrangements.

The rationale behind the Projects approach demonstrates growing evidence that we need to work together across systems, sectors, governments, and communities to reduce disaster risk. This rationale is supported by the SENDAI Framework for Global Disaster Risk Reduction, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework, and the WA Disaster Risk Reduction Implementation Plan.

Working Group

The Project Working Group included a broad sector working group to provide strategic advice and guide the implantation of the project.



Curtin University (FSI)

Dept. Communities Emergency Relief and Support Directorate

Aboriginal Health Council WA
National Disability Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction 

Project Outputs

Guide to Food Security Planning

State, District, Local and Organisational Emergency Food Planning Templates

Hazard Scenario Template and Example

Customisation of the WAConnect Community Service Directory

Customisation of the Community Organised Resource Exchange

WA Food Stress Index

Food Stress Index Tutorial Video

Consent to Share tool