Part III
Coordination Activities in the Field

Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

 

 

  Requirements 1,188,186  
  Income from Voluntary Contributions1 1 575,008  
  EXPENDITURE    
  Staff Costs 595,337  
  Consultant Fees and Travel 1,740  
  Travel 102,280  
  Operating Expenses 81,008  
  Contractual Services 22,040  
  Supplies, Materials, Furniture and Equipment 23,000  
  Fellowships, Grants and Contributions 8,000  
  Programme Support Costs 108,343  
  Total Expenditure (US$) 941,748  
1 Includes allocations from the Field Coordination Reserve Fund of US$ 275,488

 

Context

Although the 2006 hurricane season was not as deadly as predicted, there were still over 1 million people affected by natural disasters in Latin America and the Caribbean during the year. Statistics indicated that one third of the population was exposed to natural catastrophes, and the potential for emergencies increased during the year. Many countries in the region faced continued crises related to profound socio-economic inequality, poverty, stagnating economies and unfair treatment of indigenous populations. The resulting socio-political instability and its humanitarian impact, especially in countries where indigenous and other minorities are the most vulnerable, requires careful monitoring and, where appropriate, contingency planning.

One of the key challenges facing the Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean (RO-LAC) in 2006 was the development of OCHA’s capacity to manage humanitarian information in the region.

Objectives

Activities and Accomplishments

As part of its strategic plan for strengthening emergency preparedness, coordination mechanisms and information systems, RO-LAC created two National Disaster Response Adviser (NDRA) positions in Guatemala and Nicaragua. It also supported UNCTs in eight countries by revising emergency response plans and providing an introduction to humanitarian reform, including the CERF and the cluster approach. At the regional level, OCHA organized UNDAC induction and refresher courses. Along with these preparedness activities, two UNDAC missions were deployed to Bolivia and Suriname to support the response to severe flooding.

RO-LAC assisted in coordinating a high-level regional meeting on disaster response preparedness in Guatemala, with the participation of ministers and directors from the National Emergency Commissions of Central American countries as well as representatives of United Nations agencies and donors. This conference featured the lead participation of the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs, who signed a Cooperation Framework on behalf of OCHA with the Centre of Coordination for Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America (CEPREDENAC) and the Central American Integration System. Leading up to this event, a workshop on Forecast and Possible Lines of Action in Central America for the 2006 hurricane season brought together meteorologists, experts in natural disaster management and representatives of governments, NGOs, international cooperation agencies and United Nations agencies working in Central America. The main conclusions and recommendations from the workshop helped prepare for future hurricane seasons and put into practice lessons learned from the 2005 hurricane season.

RO-LAC continued to carry out the function of Executive Secretary for the Regional Risk, Emergency and Disaster Task Force (REDLAC) meetings. In the area of disaster response, one of the group’s achievements was the creation of an Inter-Agency Rapid Humanitarian Assessment Methodology and Tool to support United Nations Emergency Technical Teams (UNETEs). This was developed through a review of the range of inter-agency rapid assessment tools and methodologies of member agencies and humanitarian partners – consolidating these into one single tool approved and validated by all members. Another accomplishment was the creation of a regional-level Inter-Agency Cluster Work Group to support the implementation the cluster approach.

A sub-group was formed with information management focal points for REDLAC members which acted as a regional mechanism for information management and sharing – including early warning monitoring and alerts for natural disasters in the region, relevant publications and links, information management products and tools, and joint projects. One of the projects that the group undertook was the Regional Humanitarian Network for Latin America and the Caribbean (RedHum), designed to coordinate information from the region, indicate gaps and disseminate situation analyses to facilitate decision-making.

OCHA held the first regional Humanitarian Reform Workshop, two emergency preparedness workshops and two lessons learned workshops. It also undertook five missions to strengthen UNETEs in disaster response capacity. It participated in a meeting of the Regional Humanitarian Allied Forces at which civil and military entities developed strategies to improve their collaborative efforts in dealing with natural and man-made hazards and their impact on communities.

Performance Evaluation