Regional Office for Central and East Africa
The Central and East Africa region covered by the OCHA Support Office comprises 14 countries. In 2005, the formal political transition period was completed in Burundi and there was a North-South peace deal in Sudan, though violent conflict continued in Darfur. Meanwhile, Ethiopia-Eritrean relations soured and both countries engaged in a build-up of troops at their common border. Localised and devastating conflicts continued in eastern DRC, southern Somalia, northern Uganda, Darfur, some provinces of Burundi and the Republic of Congo, threatening fragile peace processes and impeding humanitarian response. Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia and Somalia continued to experience sporadic inter communal and/or cross-border violence. Drought persisted in Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, and the effects of drought and erratic rainfalls caused flash floods in Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania, Sudan and Ethiopia, resulting in chronic food insecurity and malnutrition.
The impact of conflicts and disasters imposed severe hardships on nearly 13 million people, either internally displaced or refugees. The sustainable return of refugees and IDPs remains a key challenge, especially in Burundi.Massive human rights violations were prevalent in the region, notably sexual violence in DRC and Darfur. The protection of civilians was a major challenge, with states either unable or unwilling to protect their own people. The scope and scale of needs in the region continued to grow. Chronically food-insecure populations need substantial food assistance and competing emergencies restricted the resources available.
- Improve technical expertise among humanitarian actors in the region
- Develop a more coordinated and inclusive regional humanitarian strategy to respond more efficiently to assessed needs
- Better-harmonised and coordinated advocacy strategies among regional partners, and the committed engagement of policy makers towards addressing the root causes of crises in the region
- Enhance early warning for crisis mitigation and strengthen preparedness for humanitarian response
- Improve support to emergency assessment and coordination of disaster response
The RO CEA provided backstopping and technical support to OCHA country offices in the region and elsewhere. The office organised workshops and consultations on: displacement and protection; HIV/AIDS guidelines in emergency; humanitarian mapping in disaster preparedness and response; and civil-military coordination.
The Inter-Agency Working Group on Early Warning and Disaster Preparedness, chaired by the RO CEA, mapped the preparedness level and response capacity of regional partners and 14 governments. Upon completion, a one-day ‘tsunami simulation’ confirmed areas of weakness, overlaps or gaps in regional supports. The RO CEA provided analyses on trends and indicators where there is no OCHA office, compiled in early warning reports. The office also assisted the UNEP-OCHA unit with a toxic waste assessment in Somalia. In light of the avian flu threat, the RO CEA established an inter-agency group, which supports governmental strategies and coordinates interventions.
Whenever an emergency arises, the RO CEA consults concerned partners and advocacy strategies are developed. Individual agency/organisation advocacy campaigns undertaken in 2005 stemmed from an overall regional advocacy strategy. On the policy side, achievement is less easy to measure, as many factors cannot be attributed to the RO CEA alone. However, the protocols prepared for the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region are an example of positive policy outcome spearheaded and supported by the RO CEA.
The RO organised bi-annual scenario development workshops for the Horn of Africa and for the Great Lakes Region at which UN and NGO regional partners and donors elaborated scenarios, identified humanitarian consequences and reviewed preparedness and response capacity.
Information exchange meetings chaired by the RO CEA, continued on a regular basis. The RO CEA produced specific reports on affected populations in the region, on Kenya, on the relations between Sudan/ Chad, Sudan/Ethiopia and Somalia/Kenya/Ethiopia.
To reach a common understanding of crises in the region and agree upon regional strategies and plans of action, the RO CEA organised and chaired monthly Steering Committee Meetings. In 2005, the focus was on HIV/AIDS and environmental risks posed by the Nyiragongo volcano in DRC, as well as some more country-specific concerns.
Implementation of the 2005 regional strategy was regularly monitored. Stakeholders participated in the development of the 2006 Great Lakes CAP. The RO CEA supported Somalia, Djibouti, Pakistan,West Africa, CAR and DRC in the elaboration of their CAPs through workshop facilitation and technical support.
Advocacy activities directed towards regional partners focused on several countries and themes, with an emphasis on HIV/AIDS and Sexual and Gender-Based Violence, including dissemination of IASC guidelines. Severe crises lacking adequate international attention (Darfur, Eritrea-Ethiopia and Kenya) were particularly supported.
The Information Management and Analysis Unit (IMAU) surveyed regional partners to identify expectations and needs, launched an inter-agency working group website, elaborated a regional information management strategy, maintained a regional contact database, and participated in the IAWG information technology-information management sub-group.
The RO CEA pursued its role as lead agency for the Social and Humanitarian Issues cluster of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (IC/GLR) and facilitated discussions of the 11 core countries, during which 11 projects and three protocols (on Internal Displacement, Sexual Violence, and Property Rights of Returning Populations) were elaborated.
Surge capacity and technical expertise among OCHA offices in the region was improved through support missions totalling 110 weeks on issues ranging from displacement and protection to HIV interventions in emergency settings, civil-military cooperation, and humanitarian mapping in disaster preparedness and response. Receiving offices rated the RO CEA performance highly, and requests for such support surpassed the capacity of the office to deliver. More than 200 humanitarian partners benefited from regional workshops.
The major achievement towards a more coordinated and inclusive approach was the establishment of inter-agency sectoral and thematic groups, such as the Avian Flu and cross-border groups, where UN and NGO regional actors coordinate their interventions on the basis of regional objectives.
The RO CEA directly supported and facilitated the elaboration of three contingency plans, for Rwanda, Burundi and the volcano in Goma, DRC. The regional office also started the process in Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea.
Following the humanitarian mapping and the simulation conducted under the coordination of the RO CEA, regional partners took measures to strengthen and improve their collective and individual assessment and disaster response. While it may still be too early to draw conclusions, commitment to working together has been illustrated on Avian Flu and HIV/AIDS, issues on which all partners have taken a coordinated approach.