Field Coordination Support Section
The role of the FCSS project is to strengthen the mobilisation and coordination capacity of OCHA during the emergency phase following a disaster, while contributing to OCHA’s role in boosting response preparedness in developing countries.
CSS has five major functions. It manages the UN Disaster Assessment & Coordination (UNDAC) system, with regional teams in Africa/Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and Asia-Pacific. The project manages the OCHA Standby Partnerships which provide humanitarian experts for short term assignments in OCHA field offices. FCSS also acts as secretariat of the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), with regional groupings in Africa/Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific. As such, it coordinates all international urban search and rescue activities involving collapsed structures.
FCSS acts as secretariat of the International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP) which provides technical support modules for humanitarian missions, as well as the Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Partnership (APHP), which provides similar support in that region. FCSS also maintains the Virtual On Site Operations Coordination Centre (V-OSOCC), which allows real-time information exchange for emergency managers and provides the platform for the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System (GDACS), integrating international on-line disaster information management systems under one umbrella.
- Respond rapidly and effectively to requests from governments/RC/HCs for an UNDAC team to assist in coordinating international response to sudden-onset emergencies
- Strengthen the capacity of UNDAC teams through training, exercises, consolidation and development of partnerships
- Expand awareness of the INSARAG network and foster adoption of common methodologies
- Support the International Humanitarian Partnership and the Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Partnership through regional activities
- Expand the OCHA Standby Partners arrangement
Seventeen UNDAC missions were deployed during 2005, involving 131 UNDAC members from 34 countries and five organisations. Fourteen were in response to sudden-onset natural disasters: Sri Lanka, the Maldives, Thailand, Indonesia and the Seychelles (tsunami); Guyana (floods); Tokelau and Cook Islands (cyclone); Indonesia (earthquake); USA (hurricane); El Salvador (floods); Pakistan (earthquake); Guatemala (mudslides); and Nicaragua (tropical storm). One hundred and three UNDAC members from 30 countries and four organizations ensured coordination of international assistance during the emergency phase of these disasters.
Three UNDAC response preparedness missions took place following requests from the governments of the Dominican Republic, the Philippines and Georgia for assistance in analysing national disaster response preparedness plans. These missions involved 28 UNDAC members from 14 countries and two organisations.
The International Humanitarian Partnership (involving Belgium, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK) supported seven UNDAC missions, with large-scale support camps in Indonesia and Pakistan. The IHP also provided telecommunications and logistical support modules and personnel during missions to Sri Lanka, Thailand, Guyana, Guatemala and Nicaragua. 2005 also saw the development of the Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Partnership (involving Australia, China, Japan, Korea, New Zealand and Singapore) to provide similar support in that region.
UNDAC capacity was strengthened through the organisation of seven UNDAC training courses during 2005, including two induction courses (Europe and Asia-Pacific regions), three OSOCC training courses (Europe and the Caribbean regions) and refresher training (Africa-Europe region). The IHP provided support with staff and equipment for UNDAC training, and a support staff refresher course was held in Finland. An APHP training course also took place in Singapore.
In 2005, FCSS continued to work closely with UN Agencies, the IFRC, regional organizations and other humanitarian response partners, including the NGOs MapAction and Telecoms sans Frontières, with which it collaborated in the field during the tsunami and Pakistan earthquake responses, as well as in training activities.
In 2005, FCSS mobilised 59 expert personnel from Standby Partners to support OCHA offices in 10 countries (Sudan, Pakistan, Colombia, the occupied Palestinian territory, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, DRC, Indonesia, Maldives and the Cook Islands). These personnel were seconded to OCHA on a cost sharing basis.
FCSS organised INSARAG regional group meetings in Europe/Africa and the Asia-Pacific regions, with participants from 60 countries and organisations. Two USAR exercises were organised jointly with governments, in Geneva and Armenia. An USAR evaluation exercise was held in Hungary and a global USAR team leaders meeting was held in Estonia. A major initiative in 2005 was the revision of the INSARAG Guidelines, as well as the development of a USAR classification system.
All UNDAC teams were dispatched to sudden-onset emergencies within 48 hours of receipt of requests for assistance. The arrangement concluded with the Swiss government for provision of an aircraft allowed the first UNDAC team deployed to Pakistan after the South Asia earthquake to arrive within 24 hours of the disaster, and to set up coordination structures in the capital and affected region within 36 hours.
Rapid deployment is essential for UNDAC to effectively carry out its coordination role.
UNDAC training courses brought 72 candidates from 43 countries and six organisations into the teams. Practical training and lessons-learned exercises updated and consolidated skills of existing members at various training sessions. Partnerships functioned well, both in the field and for training events. UNDAC mission equipment was prepositioned in some OCHA regional offices to facilitate future deployments.
Revision of the INSARAG Guidelines updated coordination methodology and agreed classification standards of international USAR teams, thereby improving the quality and timeliness of international USAR assistance.
IHP support proved invaluable during 2005, both in missions and for training events. Development of the Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Partnership (APHP) boosted capabilities within that region, with the first support modules now available for deployment.
The 59 experts deployed through OCHA’s Standby Partners enabled short-term staffing needs to be rapidly met by appropriately-qualified personnel. The seven partners include Denmark, Norway, Sweden, the UK, UN Volunteers, Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief Australia and Austcare Australia, an agency specialising in the provision of protection personnel, which joined in 2005.