PART Iii: performance in 2007
Performance of the Field
Field Offices - Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean (map)

Haiti

A degree of economic growth in Haiti resumed in 2007, but poor humanitarian indicators still prevailed. Tropical storms, mudslides and heavy rains increased the already precarious nature of the population’s livelihoods, and food security remained a priority.

In early 2007, after the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti and the Haitian National Police launched direct operations against criminal gangs in Cité Soleil and other Port-au-Prince slums, security improved. In order to sustain this progress and support the restoration of the credibility of Haitian government institutions, the United Nations, the international community and donors (under the leadership of the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/ Humanitarian Coordinator) agreed to support Government efforts to deliver quick and visible improvements to the living conditions of the population in these areas. A ‘Task Force on Red Zones’ was created to ensure maximum efficiency and coordination in relation to this initiative.

OCHA Haiti held a two-day hurricane season preparedness workshop, leading to more effective response by the United Nations and the humanitarian community and resulting in a joint United Nations system/international community contingency plan for each sector.

Performance Evaluation

Strengthened in-country coordination

OCHA led a United Nations/international NGO/national NGO contingency planning exercise in June; the resulting plan will be reviewed in April 2008. The pre-positioning of food and non-food items in key areas allowed timely relief assistance to be provided to victims of natural disasters.

In order to improve sector coordination, two workshops and a number of meetings on humanitarian reform were held, and recommendations resulting from these forums were being implemented by both United Nations Agencies and international and national NGOs. The IASC Country Team was expected to be fully operational by early 2008.

More coherent and sharpened advocacy on humanitarian issues and principles

Joint assessment missions, for which sector needs assessment forms were prepared and used, were conducted and facilitated by OCHA. Priorities and common strategies were also agreed upon among humanitarian actors for preparedness and response to natural disasters.

Colombia

During 2007, conflict in Colombia continued to impact upon the civilian population. Official figures at the end of the year put the internally displaced population at 2,272,559, with new cases up by 6 per cent on 2006. Authorities continued to provide humanitarian assistance to IDPs and significantly increased their budgetary allocations to cover these requirements. However, response capacity at the local level was limited and further protection measures are required to ensure the full implementation of Colombia’s legal framework.

Non-state armed actors applied pressure to civilians through blockades, leaving around 57 communities (over 30,000 individuals) confined for periods of more than ten days and facing food shortages, limited access to medical and humanitarian services, mobility restrictions and violence. Given these security conditions, it continued to be difficult to implement humanitarian de-mining in the country’s municipalities – 80 per cent of which are mine-affected. Colombia was also hit by heavy rains and floods during the two rainy seasons, affecting 1.5 million people.

Following the principles of humanitarian reform, Colombia moved forward in consolidating in-country coordination mechanisms, establishing three thematic groups on Protection, Humanitarian Assistance and Basic Services, and Early Recovery. Six regional coordination mechanisms were also set up in the worst-affected areas, increasing outreach and response capacity at the field level. In-country coordination structures were progressively enabled to conduct rapid response missions at the onset of emergencies, as well as to implement mid- and long-term strategies based on updated needs assessments.

In 2007, OCHA assisted in mobilizing US$ 6.3 million from the CERF to address conflict and disaster-related emergencies.

Performance Evaluation

Greater engagement and coordination with national and international NGOs

Forty-five international NGOs participate in thematic groups, representing around 80 per cent of the international NGOs operating in Colombia. According to a survey carried out by OCHA among relevant NGOs, this arrangement is deemed satisfactory as they see the in-country humanitarian coordination mechanism as an opportunity to increase their participation and representation levels. Six proposals were presented to and approved by CERF for rapid response projects, with the broad participation of United Nations Agencies and NGOs.

Strengthened in-country coordination

The humanitarian coordination mechanism established a technical group attended by United Nations and NGO representatives to look into and define technical and implementing aspects of initiatives (conceptual definitions, operational standards, joint field missions and so on). It also ensures coherence and information-sharing among all thematic/sectoral groups, and liaises with authorities to formulate action points and recommendations to the Government.

Although the cluster mechanism was not yet implemented in Colombia in 2007, United Nations and non-United Nations humanitarian actors established coordination arrangements, and thematic and sectoral groups became operational. A Country Needs Assessment was conducted, six regional coordination mechanisms were established, numerous field missions were undertaken, and monitoring and follow-up processes were developed.

Improved tools and services

OCHA set up an online information platform and granted access to its Humanitarian Information System to all United Nations and NGO members of the humanitarian coordination mechanism. OCHA’s information resources were particularly useful in the completion of the Country Needs Assessment and CERF proposals, and they have become critical elements in monitoring humanitarian emergencies and preparing for field missions. Thematic groups, with the support of OCHA, collated and analysed data on sectoral needs and response gaps as part of the Needs Analysis Framework, clearly identifying demographic, socioeconomic and demographic targets.

Increased and strengthened partnerships for humanitarian activity

The Humanitarian Coordinator and the Government held coordination meetings throughout the year to share information on specific crises and situations. It was deemed necessary both by the humanitarian coordination mechanism and government representatives to put together a formal joint rapid response mechanism; joint plans and actions for specifically prioritized areas were started and OCHA’s participation in local and departmental IDP committees was significantly increased.