Developing a Farmworker Disaster Plan. A Guide for Service Providers (1994)

Type of practice: 
United States of America
Name of Stakeholder: 
Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs
Type of Stakeholder Implementing the Practice: 
Civil Society
Type of crisis: 
Natural Disaster, Other
Crisis phase: 
Crisis Preparedness


This guide assists service providers in developing a comprehensive plan for aiding farmworkers during federally declared disasters, undeclared emergencies, and other crises that affect the agricultural industry.

The first section outlines general characteristics of the migrant farmworker population and describes how farmworkers have been overlooked during disaster relief efforts in the past.

The second section explains the role of government and how disaster aid is allocated during presidentially declared and undeclared disasters. This section also introduces the four phases of comprehensive emergency management used by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and state emergency plans.

The third section outlines the development of a plan, including researching the community, coordinating with other agencies, sharing information about resources, determining whether resources meet needs, and annexing the plan to the state emergency operations plan. Also included are ideas for in-staff training and an assessment tool for assessing farmworker damage.

The following section includes forms and instructions for evaluating service strengths and weaknesses.

The last section lists names and addresses of contacts and resources for social workers, teachers, and others who work with migrant farmworkers. Included are descriptions of federal disaster programs for farmworkers and a listing of state resources and foundation resources. Includes a glossary.  

Guidelines/Thematic Areas

GUIDELINE 4: Incorporate migrants in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response systems

States and other stakeholders have laws, policies, and programs on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response to reduce the impact of crises. Taking into account the presence of migrants, their vulnerabilities, and their potential needs in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response frameworks, including on disaster risk reduction (DRR), can promote resilience in the event of a conflict or natural disaster. Clear laws and policies on migrants’ eligibility for different types of assistance in the event of a crisis promote certainty. If the presence of migrants is not known or is inadequately incorporated in planning, stakeholders may overlook migrants in their responses. If stakeholders fail to appreciate factors that make migrants vulnerable, such as language barriers, isolated working conditions, irregular immigration status, or mistrust of authorities, responses may be ineffective. When laws and policies are unclear, responses towards migrants can be unpredictable and insufficient.

Migrants themselves and civil society may be in the best position to assist States and other stakeholders to appreciate the presence of migrants, their vulnerability, and needs. In this respect, involving migrants and civil society in the development of prevention, preparedness, and emergency response measures can be helpful. Such actions also build trust between migrant populations and State and non-State actors who provide protection.

Migrants and civil society also have capacities and resources that they can contribute to preparedness and emergency response. Their language abilities, first-hand knowledge of migrant populations, understanding of cultural norms within their communities, and ability to foster greater trust toward State authorities and other actors can be leveraged to create more comprehensive and effective systems and programs.

Sample Practices

  • Platforms to facilitate the engagement of migrants in the design and implementation of prevention, preparedness, and emergency response systems.
  • Taking migrants into account in national and local frameworks on prevention, preparedness, and emergency response, including by recognizing migrants as a specific group with needs and capacities.
  • Recruitment of migrants as staff or volunteers in prevention, preparedness, and emergency response mechanisms.