PART Iii: performance in 2007
Performance of the Field
Field Offices - asia

Asia (map)



From late December 2006 to the end of 2007, Aceh and North Sumatra, Jakarta, and West and East Java were struck by floods and landslides, displacing more than 800,000 people, affecting more than 1 million and killing 119. More than 475 earthquakes registered greater than 5 on the Richter scale, with the largest in Sumatra and West Nusa Tenggara – rendering 137,000 people homeless and 13,000 houses destroyed. Another series of strong earthquakes were felt on the island of Sumatra in September, causing 95 deaths and the destruction of over 32,000 houses, and in November, 1,500 houses were destroyed as a result of a single earthquake. A series of volcanic eruptions triggered emergency alerts for which government preparedness structures were activated. OCHA led the coordination of response efforts to these disasters, including mobilization of national and international resources.

Indonesia continued to make progress on its national humanitarian response system, and during the year OCHA focused on supporting the Government’s preparedness measures and monitoring the frequency of hazards and disasters. In line with the humanitarian reform agenda, OCHA conducted inter-agency contingency planning exercises (covering the cluster approach), disaster management training for government officials, and a contingency planning workshop for local NGOs (with support from the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific [ROAP]). OCHA’s funding mechanisms, including the CERF, Emergency Response Fund and Emergency Cash Grants, greatly contributed to OCHA’s timely response to humanitarian needs in Indonesia – disbursing a total of US$ 1,443,878 for 21 projects.

The Office drew extra support from ROAP as needed, for example during the Jakarta floods when an information and coordination centre was set up within BAKORNAS (the National Disaster Management Coordinating Board of Indonesia).

Performance Evaluation

Greater engagement and coordination with national and international NGOs

During 2007, OCHA was instrumental in piloting the in-country Global Humanitarian Partnership, with Oxfam serving as the coordinator of participating international NGOs. Similarly, OCHA maintained close contacts with the national NGO Muhammadiyah, which played a key coordination role in the Humanitarian Forum (bringing together national NGOs).

Strengthened in-country coordination

OCHA’s main focus in its work with BAKORNAS was the drafting of ancillary regulations to the new Disaster Management Law, for which it coordinated inputs from the international community. The Office also supported the Government in the consultation process on the regulation – setting the standards for international cooperation in natural disasters.

Improved natural disaster and emergency information management and coordination

A workshop featuring a nation-wide contingency planning exercise was conducted by OCHA. A cluster preparedness and disaster response workshop was also held in preparation for a nation-wide contingency plan.

OCHA supported the drafting of contingency plans in seven disaster-prone districts in Java and worked with UNICEF and a local NGO in standardizing contingency planning and emergency preparedness modules (with a view to conducting similar exercises in fourteen other districts).

Islamic Republic of Iran

Since its re-establishment in 2003 in the aftermath of the Bam earthquake, OCHA Iran has provided support to the Government and the United Nations system to achieve greater capacity in emergency response and a more coordinated approach to disaster management. OCHA has also established networks with United Nations partners and key international humanitarian actors in Iran, advocating for increased cooperation within the country as well as among the international community. OCHA is actively involved in the country’s United Nations Disaster Management Team.

Performance Evaluation

Increased support to consolidated humanitarian reform

During 2007, OCHA Iran focused on raising public awareness of its activities and introducing its disaster management and disaster reduction tools and services. Humanitarian reform was promoted through the convening of a number of workshops and OCHA’s participation in national and international conferences held by other organizations. A number of training courses on humanitarian reform were prepared – each one custom designed for the specific target group.

More coherent and sharpened advocacy on humanitarian issues and principles

OCHA’s advocacy activities during 2007 included the promotion of humanitarian issues through meetings, seminars and round-table discussions.



In 2007, many of Nepal’s vulnerable and marginalized populations continued to suffer as political discord over power sharing and elections remained unresolved. The peace process experienced more setbacks, with Constituent Assembly elections postponed twice. Humanitarian access was impeded by strikes and protests, and the absence of security guarantees led to further erosion of the State’s ability to deliver basic services.

Security in the south deteriorated with an increase in intercommunal tensions and the emergence of new opposition groups – several of these armed. In September, violence in the west triggered new displacements. In response, OCHA conducted initial joint assessments and established an emergency information centre, and while there were some spontaneous and facilitated returns of IDPs, an estimated 70,000 people remained displaced nationwide.

Poor humanitarian indicators were more pronounced due to the adverse political and climate conditions. Nepal’s global acute malnutrition rates were estimated at 13 per cent. Floods and landslides affected 60 per cent of the country and 70,000 people needed immediate food, sanitation and shelter assistance during the monsoon season. Food supplies procured for drought-affected populations had to be diverted to flood and landslide victims. In this context, OCHA organized reconnaissance flights, coordinated local response and provided critical information to implementing partners.

IASC partners in Nepal, along with the Government, agreed that the cluster approach would be used in the event of a major disaster. Clusters were also used in drafting the Government’s National Strategy on Disaster Risk Management based on the Hyogo Framework for Action. OCHA worked with existing sector groups in adopting the cluster approach, especially in relation to contingency planning.

Significant challenges remain, including defining the sphere of humanitarian action during political transition. The fragile peace and continued tensions during the year led to OCHA’s decision to continue its presence in Nepal, despite initial plans to phase down by the end of 2007.

Performance Evaluation

Improved tools and services

OCHA continued to host the United Nations website and update the ‘Who Does What Where’ database and contact lists. It produced 630 thematic and reference maps for partners and finalized agreement on the use of P-codes with the Government, helping to appropriately target assessment and response. A joint OCHA/World Food Programme project mapped the impact of the conflict on the Nepali people.

Strengthened in-country coordination to ensure response to natural disasters is timely and effective

OCHA led an IASC contingency planning exercise in June, and recommendations from this began to be implemented by the IASC Disaster Management Team. An expedited customs agreement between the United Nations and the Government was put in place in May. OCHA facilitated ten inter-agency assessments of humanitarian situations during the year, and pre-monsoon season preparedness workshops were held, leading to a more effective flood response.

More coherent and sharpened advocacy on humanitarian issues and principles to preserve development and humanitarian space

In 2007, OCHA supported strategic and operational coordination for common advocacy, resource mobilization and response. It promoted the use of a unified set of Basic Operating Guidelines among donors, United Nations Agencies and international NGOs, and trained IASC members on the implementation, monitoring and dissemination of the Guidelines. The Office’s negotiation efforts resulted in the release of abducted international NGO staff member and enabled the delivery of humanitarian aid during monsoon floods and civil unrest.

Improved coordination and monitoring of IDP issues

OCHA supported the Government in developing a comprehensive national policy on IDPs and helped to finalize the Directives for the policy. OCHA was also involved in a number of inter-agency IDP monitoring missions.

Papua New Guinea

Despite the wide range and complex nature of disasters in Papua New Guinea (PNG), emergency preparedness and management continued to receive relatively little attention and priority at the national level – challenging the effective implementation of processes such as the National Framework for Action and the operationalization of the National Influenza Preparedness Pandemic Plan.

Widespread flooding in November caused by Cyclone Guba killed over 170 people and affected approximately 143,000. United Nations and key disaster management actors worked closely with the National Disaster Centre (NDC) and the Government to respond to humanitarian and early recovery needs.

The Manam IDP caseload of about 9,000 people continued to reside in care centres. OCHA maintained a watching brief on this situation and supported Manam Restoration Authority and World Bank initiatives to address the long-term needs of these IDPs.

Performance Evaluation

Strengthened in-country coordination

OCHA continued to play a vital role in drawing together disaster management actors from various sectors through its facilitation of the IASC Disaster Management Team (DMT). The cluster approach was introduced to government agencies and the local humanitarian community at an inter-agency contingency planning workshop and a national inter-agency contingency planning exercise (co-hosted by the NDC). The approach was also endorsed at the provincial level at a recent Provincial Disaster Coordinators Conference. OCHA continued to work closely with the World Health Organization and the National Department of Health to convene monthly AHI Technical Task Force meetings and operationalize the national AHI Contingency Plan.

Improved tools and services

Over 2,000 maps and documents were distributed to DMT members and the general public. Thematic maps were produced, covering the Solomon Islands tsunami (which affected parts of north-eastern PNG), natural hazard types, a country profile and cyclone-affected areas. DMT Working Group members were the first to respond to NDC requests to establish an Emergency Operations Centre and seconded staff to NDC and the provincial disaster office. OCHA assisted the NDC and NGOs with standardized formats for conducting inter-agency assessments. A supporting database and follow-up assistance were also provided.

Greater incorporation of risk reduction objectives into humanitarian strategies

Efforts were made early in the year to mainstream the National Framework for Action in close collaboration with UNDP’s Pacific Centre; however, due to the broader focus on national elections for most of the year, an agreement was reached with Government that this initiative should be postponed.

Throughout 2007, United Nations Agencies in PNG were actively engaged in designing the United Nations Country Programme 2008–2012, in line with the United Nations ‘Delivering as One’ initiative. OCHA took the lead as Task Team Leader for the Disaster Management Task Team and drafted a five-year Disaster Management Strategic Plan for the country.

Sri Lanka

2007 saw the continued escalation of hostilities in Sri Lanka that had been re-ignited in 2006, leading to new population displacements and significant humanitarian consequences. The conflict resulted in hundreds of civilian deaths, and at the height of the fighting during March and April more than 308,000 people were internally displaced. The last months of the year saw significant deterioration of the situation in the northern Vanni region, while several bomb attacks in the south signalled the spread of insecurity to the rest of the country. In the east, fighting ceased and by the end of the year around 120,000 people were able to return or resettle.

OCHA played a central role in identifying humanitarian challenges in the country, strengthening planning and fundraising by facilitating the development of the Common Humanitarian Action Plan and compiling and monitoring the inter-agency contingency plan. Although the cluster approach was not fully rolled out, the principles of predictable lead agencies, inclusiveness and transparency were largely applied at both national and district levels. OCHA also advocated for humanitarian access and facilitated links between field operations and policies established at the national level. It engaged in awareness-raising campaigns and developed and provided tailored training for IASC and United Nations Country Team initiatives. Sub-offices supported ongoing coordination efforts through the United Nations Focal Point system – monitoring emerging needs, vulnerabilities and risks in order to define comprehensive response plans.

Constraints in implementing effective humanitarian response included insecurity and increasingly tight restrictions on movement, particularly in the northern Vanni region. Some aid organizations experienced difficulties in obtaining visas for international staff, impacting on their response capacity. Negative media messaging also hampered humanitarian operations and threatened the security of relief workers.

Performance Evaluation

Strengthened in-country coordination

Under the leadership of the Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, and supported by OCHA serving as the IASC secretariat, strategies were developed to uphold humanitarian principles and support effective response. The IASC structure was replicated in the six conflict-affected districts where OCHA has a field presence. CERF funding of US$ 12 million supported the time-critical response to the rapidly accelerating conflict in the east of the country and associated large-scale displacements, while it also assisted in strengthening cross-sector planning and prioritization.

Improved tools and services

OCHA produced maps to illustrate displacement trends, access constraints and security incidents, as well as to show progress on sector and geographic activities. The Office’s humanitarian website was revamped and served as a key source of humanitarian information, including contact lists, humanitarian reports, meeting schedules and minutes, and press releases. OCHA continued to compile a weekly IASC situation report, and a monthly monitoring report was collated based on selected indicators from lead agencies. In collaboration with partner agencies, OCHA initiated a review of assessment tools and acted as Chair for the Assessment Steering Group.

More coherent engagement on humanitarian issues and principles

In addition to its sub-offices in Killinochchi, Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara, OCHA opened sub-offices in Vavunya and Jaffna during the year, strengthening its field presence in the conflict-affected northern and eastern areas of the country. OCHA seconded a liaison assistant to the Ministry of Disaster Management and Human Rights to provide secretariat support for the Ministry in its function as chair of the Consultative Committee for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and to liaise between government, donor, NGOs and United Nations actors on humanitarian response.


In 2006, civil unrest in Timor-Leste led to the displacement of approximately 10 per cent of the population. By the end of 2007, around 70,000 people remained displaced in the districts and around 30,000 IDPs were being sheltered in 51 camps in Dili and seven in Baucau.

While the overall security situation improved to a degree during the year, it remained fragile. Following the election of a new government in August, localized violence caused the further displacement of around 4,000 people, and houses, government buildings and NGOs were attacked.

A regional rice shortage in February, several locust outbreaks and crop damage due to localized dry spells, floods, winds and landslides all exacerbated the already precarious food security situation. These natural disasters were aggravated by climate events (El Niño/La Niña) which impacted on both private assets and public infrastructure.

Since it established a presence in Timor-Leste in June 2006, OCHA has provided coordination support, information management, policy advice and advocacy on humanitarian and protection issues for the United Nations and NGO humanitarian community, donors and the Government of Timor-Leste. OCHA leads an Integrated Humanitarian Coordination Team which supports the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator as well as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General in the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), the United Nations Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.

Following the immediate response to the 2006 crisis and a successful flash appeal, the decision was made to phase out OCHA’s presence in Timor-Leste by the end of that year, handing over its coordination functions to UNDP and UNMIT. However, at the end of 2006 it became clear that OCHA’s continued presence would be required for at least some of 2007 – primarily due to continued internal displacement as well as political uncertainty and delays in human resources deployment by OCHA’s partners. From July 2007, UNMIT human resources were added to those of OCHA to form an Integrated Humanitarian Coordination Team led by OCHA’s Head of Office in direct support of the Humanitarian Coordinator. Towards the end of the year, UNDP began to strengthen its early recovery assistance coordination capacity.

Performance Evaluation

Strengthened in-country coordination

Through its regular participation in Sector Working Groups and inter-sectoral coordination of United Nations, NGO and government actors, OCHA was able to collect, analyse and disseminate relevant information to decision- and policy-makers. OCHA supported the creation of the Humanitarian Coordination Committee in October, consolidating existing coordination forums. The Humanitarian Coordination Committee promotes the Principles of Partnerships as set out by the Global Humanitarian Platform among international NGOs, the International Committee of the Red Cross, United Nations Agencies, the International Organization for Migration and UNMIT, as well as representatives of the United Nations Police in Timor-Leste and International Stabilization Force liaison officers.

OCHA facilitated and led inter-agency efforts including emergency response planning, multi-sector emergency assessments and the development of contingency plans and common tools. It continued to provide information management support (including coordination tools such as maps and databases) to the humanitarian community and relevant parts of the Government.

Greater incorporation of risk reduction objectives into humanitarian (including recovery and transition) strategies

OCHA advocated for political and security-related efforts to mitigate risks linked to the current and recurrent factors influencing conflict in the country. OCHA facilitated the development of inter-agency contingency plans for the 2007 presidential and parliamentary elections and supported a wet season preparedness plan and other national contingency plans in close cooperation with the Government of Timor- Leste’s National Disaster Management authority. Continued support was provided to the Government with the aim of enhancing response preparedness and supporting the implementation of disaster risk management strategies.

Improved coordination and monitoring of IDP issues

OCHA, as part of the Integrated Humanitarian Coordination Team, strategically aligned its response coordination mechanism to the Inter-Ministerial Committee – the Government of Timor-Leste’s internal humanitarian committee chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister. Ongoing challenges remain, however, in relation to monitoring human rights and protection issues within and beyond the situation of displacements in the country. OCHA provided policy advice and coordination support to the Government with the aim of ensuring that humanitarian assistance and, to a certain extent, recovery policies were in line with international humanitarian principles and laws. OCHA advocated for the development of a longer-term assistance framework by recovery and development actors to address the fundamental causes of the 2006 crisis and ultimately to reach a durable solution for the country’s IDPs.