Information Analysis Section
Located within the Information Analysis Section (IAS) are three important components of OCHA’s capacity to collect, manage, exchange and disseminate humanitarian information in support of strategic analytical goals. These three units are dedicated to early warning analysis, field information support to operations and coordination, and global ReliefWeb coverage of emergencies and disasters as they unfold. The following sections describe the work of each of these components in 2005.
Early Warning and Contingency Planning Unit
The Early Warning Unit of AIMB is responsible for improving OCHA’s ability to identify potential complex emergencies. The unit produces in-depth country reports, one-page alerts in response to rapidly deteriorating situations and a quarterly global risk analysis in collaboration with partners. These products inform strategic decisions by OCHA’s management, as well as inter-agency partners, with respect to preparedness, advocacy and response coordination.
During 2005 the unit strengthened its ties with regional and country offices, which led to the development of regional inter-agency early warning, preparedness and mitigation strategies for Central Asia,West Africa and the Andean countries. The unit has worked closely with the IASC to improve the quality of its risk assessments and to develop a Standard Operating Procedure that links early warning to different preparedness actions.Work started on developing an action checklist for internal OCHA purposes. The unit has remained highly engaged with the Framework Team.
- Produce timely and relevant early warning analysis for countries potentially at risk of humanitarian crisis through strengthened ties with internal and external partners, particularly those based in the field
During 2005, the Early Warning Unit undertook most of the activities as highlighted in OCHA in 2005. In close consultation with partners in headquarters and the field, the unit produced early warning analyses and alerts for countries facing potential humanitarian crises in south and central Asia, the Pacific, Latin America and West Africa. It also produced 21 early warning fact sheets. These reports supported the ERC in some of his briefings to UN Member States.
The unit produced two OCHA internal risk matrices and four IASC Early Warning – Early Action reports in close collaboration with partners. Each of these matrices included projections on potential developments in more than 50 existing or emerging crises.
The unit worked with IASC partners to refine an inter-agency site that facilitates better sharing of internal early warning and emergency preparedness information, thereby strengthening Early Warning Early Action decision-making at an inter-agency level.
The unit worked closely with partners on the Framework Team to implement the recommendations of a 2004 evaluation, which included developing a Terms of Reference for the Framework Team Secretariat, sharing its early warning methodology, maintaining the link with ECHA and improving ties with RCs.
Together with OCHA’s regional offices, the unit maintained and developed partnerships with global civil society networks, such as the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), regional organisations such as ECOWAS, and regional NGOs including ECCP (European Centre for Conflict Prevention),WANEP (West Africa Network for Peacebuilding) and CRIES (Coordinadora Regional de Estudios Economicos y Sociales/Regional Coordination for Economic and Social Research).
In July 2005, the unit facilitated the ERC’s participation in a panel discussion on Mobilising Early Response at a global conference on conflict prevention organised by GPPAC at UN headquarters in New York.
The Early Warning Unit, in collaboration with its humanitarian partners, anticipated 90 percent of non-disaster humanitarian crises that occurred in 2005.
During 2005, early warning products provided information that contributed to eight inter-agency contingency plans, 300 media reports, ReliefWeb coverage of five emerging country/regional crises, and enhanced information management capacity in five different regions.
In the cases of Central Asia, Côte d’Ivoire and its five neighbouring countries, and Ethiopia and Eritrea, the unit worked particularly closely with internal and external partners to ensure a high level of humanitarian preparedness.
Based on early warning analysis, a UN system-wide strategy was developed in Nepal and OCHA established a fully-fledged office.
In one case, Niger, early warning signals did not lead to adequate and timely action by the humanitarian community. An OCHA assessment of the impact of the IASC’s Early Warning–Early Action report in triggering action on Niger concluded that, even though the report flagged food insecurity in the Sahel at an early stage (September 2004), it did not play a role in mobilising early action by the humanitarian community. Reasons for the poor response included weak preparedness, the development of inappropriate responses and lack of capacity.
OCHA shared quarterly early warning and preparedness assessments from 25 OCHA country and regional offices for 50 countries with IASC partners, thereby supporting the humanitarian community in the development of the quarterly IASC Early Warning–Early Action reports, and implementation of follow-up actions.
Early warning analysis distributed to Framework Team members on countries at risk of humanitarian crisis resulted in greater engagement by conflict prevention actors in the UN system. For instance, the unit placed Chad on the agenda of the Framework Team.
Through the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, the Early Warning Unit increased the number of its partnerships with regional civil society partners from 10 to 25. This led to a 100 percent increase in the contribution of civil society actors to products released by the unit.