Translate page into
« Go back to list

Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management in the United States

Practice image
Practice provided by


If you are a public official, please sign in to see the contact details of the innovator.

Type of organisation: Federal Emergency Management Agency

Country: United States

Level of government: Central government

Type of practice:

Type of hazard or threat:

Risk management theme: Crisis management & preparedness, Risk governance

In 2012, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) introduced a Whole Community emergency management strategy to coordinate all levels of government, increaseindividual preparedness, and engagewith members of the community as vital partners to strengthen resiliency and security of the United States. The Whole Community Approach to Emergency Management engages government at all levels with communities and individuals when responding to disasters. It and provides a strategic framework to guide all members of the emergency management community and integrates Whole Community concepts into their daily practices. This approach is not intended to be an all-encompassing or focused on any specific phase of emergency management or level of government, nor does it offer specific, prescriptive actions that require communities or emergency managers to adopt certain protocols. Rather, the approach provides an overview of core principles, key themes, and pathways for action that have been synthesized from a year-long national dialogue initiated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency around practices already used in the field. This new approach provides a starting point for those learning about Whole Community approaches, or looking for ways to expand existing practices and to begin more operational-based discussions on further implementation. These three principles —understanding and meeting the actual needs of the whole community, engaging and empowering all parts of the community, and strengthening what works well in communities on a daily basis—provide a foundation for pursuing a Whole Community approach to emergency management through which security and resiliency can be attained.

Why the good practice was developed

The effects of natural and manmade disasters have become more frequent, far-reaching, and widespread. As a result, preserving the safety, security, and prosperity of all parts of our society is becoming more challenging. The United States’ traditional approach to managing the risks associated with these disasters relies heavily on the government. However, today’s changing reality is affecting all levels of government in their efforts to improve the United States’ resilience while grappling with the limitations of their capabilities. Even in small- and medium-sized disasters, which the government is generally effective at managing, reveals significant access and service gaps still exist. In large-scale disasters or catastrophes, government resources and capabilities can be overwhelmed. Therefore, preparing for disasters requires a community-centric approach for emergency management that focuses on strengthening and leveraging what works well in communities on a daily basis. Such an approach offers a more effective path to building societal security and resilience. By focusing on core elements of successful, connected, and committed communities, emergency management can collectively achieve better outcomes in times of crisis, while enhancing the resilience of communities.


  • Engage with members of the community as vital partners in enhancing the resiliency and security through a whole community approach

  • Achieve better outcomes in emergency management

  • Increase individual preparedness to disasters



Service quality


User satisfaction

Results not available yet


  • A whole community approach to emergency response has been fostered.