Field Offices

Value and Reach of OCHA Field Presence

Strengthening the predictability and accountability of the international humanitarian system has been an OCHA priority since 2006, as reflected in the current Strategic Framework.

OCHA field and regional offices have been at the forefront of translating “humanitarian reform” into the normal way that humanitarian partners work together at the country level. In practice, resources are deployed to facilitate humanitarian country team development of inclusive humanitarian action plans and appeals, and contingency plans that, from the outset, build the cluster approach into planning. Day-to-day leadership is supported, so HC/RCs may effectively perform their complex duties. Millions of dollars are managed across the globe in country-based pooled mechanisms. Inter-cluster coordination and information management systems support crucial, time-sensitive decision-making processes. These are simply a few key elements that demonstrate the breadth of OCHA field presence support.

What is the value of OCHA coordination efforts in the greater scheme of the international humanitarian system? In 2008, OCHA work at the country level facilitated the coordination of humanitarian plans valued at $7.2 billion. OCHA field and regional presence cost less than 2% of that amount.

Field Offices: Africa


Although the peace process saw important progress — notably, key benchmarks were set between the government and the remaining rebel group, Forces nationales de libération (FNL) — the fragile political environment contributed to general insecurity. The pervasiveness of criminality and violence, increases in gender based violence (GBV), and challenges to social reconstruction all suggest that the road to stability will be long.

The high number of returnees in 2008 led to a rise in reintegration needs. Since 2002 some 474,000 Burundian refugees (mainly from Tanzania) returned home. This included 95,000 in 2008 alone, the highest number since the start of repatriation program. Tanzania and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) succeeded in reaching an agreement for the naturalization of about 170,000 refugees from 1972, a first ever in Africa.

The soaring food and fuel prices further exacerbated food insecurity in the country; 16 percent of Burundians are food secure. In addition, a new category of poor is surfacing in urban areas. In 2008, OCHA Burundi mainly focused on phasing out and handing over coordination mechanisms for transition to early recovery. Although the exit strategy was effectively managed, the slow path to political stability and weak government ownership of humanitarian/recovery activities delayed the handover of certain coordination and monitoring activities to UNDP and government counterparts.

Performance Evaluation

A strategy enabling seamless transition and early recovery

OCHA exit strategy was reviewed and refined throughout the year to enable a smooth transition. The humanitarian response to a short-term displacement of populations following the April-May 2008 confrontations between the Palipehutu-Forces Nationales de Libération (FNL) and the government tested coordination structures and international support with a limited OCHA presence. This experience informed a joint Coordination and Response Division (CRD-ROCEA) mission, conducted in May 2008 that undertook a scenario analysis and wide-ranging consolations with all key stakeholders in Bujumbura on OCHA exit strategy. The mission’s recommendations resulted in the formalization of humanitarian coordination arrangements in Burundi through the roll out of the cluster approach, to maintain strong humanitarian preparedness and response mechanisms to better prepare for future emergencies as OCHA phases out. OCHA pro-active engagement with UNDP to build its capacity in disaster response and implement its planned programs in Burundi was also crucial in enabling a smooth transition. In this regard, three national and provincial workshops with key authorities and humanitarian partners, which OCHA conducted with UNDP, reinforced coordination structures at the provincial level. And OCHA began to gradually hand over its partnership with the Civil Protection to the UNDP early recovery support team.

As part of the exit strategy, OCHA Burundi’s mapping and information management capacity, highly valued by the humanitarian and recovery community, was formally transferred to the government’s Direction de l’Action Humanitaire contre les Mines et engins non explosés (supported by UNDP). OCHA had provided capacity-building trainings to GIS throughout 2007 (three trainings) and 2008 (two trainings).

Improved management practices for ‘one OCHA’

OCHA Burundi’s original exit strategy to close the office on 30 June 2008 and leave a residual team of three national officers was revised in May 2008. Instead, the office closed on 30 December to finalize the roll out of the cluster approach and facilitate the handover of coordination activities. In 2009, OCHA will support one national coordination officer, one national information officer, one administrative officer, and two drivers. This will complement the team supporting the RC/HC in Burundi, including a Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO) international Humanitarian Advisor, and a UNDP early recovery technical team of three. In addition, ROCEA has a dedicated focal point for Burundi who closely monitors developments and provides systematic support through regular missions.

Accountable and transparent human resources planning and management

The OCHA Burundi exit strategy was planned since 2006; staff were regularly updated and eventually reassigned.

Central African Republic

The most remarkable 2008 development was the return home of almost half of Central African Republic’s (CAR) 197,000 internally displaced people. By year’s end, members of the Humanitarian and Development Partnership Team (HDPT) estimated the number of IDPs to be 108,000. A further 104,000 Central African refugees remained in neighboring Cameroon, Chad, and even Sudan’s Darfur region.

In 2008, an atmosphere of almost absolute impunity and violence against civilians was a great concern. Entire villages were assaulted by bandits. In one instance, in what is now known as the ‘widows’ village’, bandits killed all men, leaving only women and children behind. In response, some villagers organized themselves in self-defence militias, risking a further escalation of violence. In the Northeast, communal violence led to the emergence of a new militant group. In the Southeast, attacks by the Ugandan LRA temporarily forced 5,000 people away from their homesteads.

The grim realities highlight a pronounced need for early recovery and reinforce some of the challenges still faced in addressing these gaps. Nonetheless, because OCHA successfully negotiated humanitarian access with armed groups and authorities, the entire country remained accessible to humanitarian workers at almost all times.

Performance Evaluation

A predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system

In 2008, the Coordinated Aid Program for CAR was the best funded CAP, at 91 percent. This generous support from donors enabled humanitarian organizations to provide life-saving assistance, protection and early recovery aid to a million people affected by conflict and violence. Two locally administered funds — an ERF upgraded in July to a Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) — supported humanitarian assistance and protection for 520,000 people with $9.4 million in 2008.

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

OCHA was pivotal in strengthening coordination within and between clusters. All aid agencies participate as members or observers in the cluster system; and cluster leads meet regularly with the Humanitarian Coordinator. The role of clusters also became more important, as they now play a central role in determining CHF allocations. Still, cluster leads must strengthen the mapping and coordination of activities, advocacy and humanitarian strategy planning.

Greater incorporation of disaster risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response

Preparedness was mainly strengthened by an increased presence of aid agencies in areas affected by conflict and banditry. Some organizations pre-positioned emergency stocks of plastic sheeting and other household items; but, these stocks must be replenished and increased. An inter-agency contingency plan was updated twice in 2008. This plan incorporated a new emergency profile linked with the LRA threat posed against civilian populations of South Eastern CAR.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues

OCHA, together with aid agencies in CAR, greatly increased its advocacy efforts in 2008 at all levels. OCHA continuously negotiated with militant groups and armed forces for free and safe humanitarian access, as well as respect for humanitarian principles and basic human rights. The members of the protection cluster organized a number of human rights training workshops for displaced people, youth associations, and others affected by violence. It did so for armed groups and the state’s armed forces, as well.


The grave humanitarian crisis in Eastern Chad remains a concern, with urgent humanitarian assistance provided to about 250,000 Sudanese refugees — 60,000 from Central African Republic (CAR) and about 166,000 internally displaced persons. Since January 2009, a new influx of over 17,000 refugees from CAR into Southern Chad, due to fighting between rebel factions and with government forces, has resulted in an increase in refugees. The long-term presence of such numerous refugees and IDPs has resulted in growing tension with the host populations, competition over limited resources, and additional strain on the environment.

There has been no major military activity since the attack on N’Djamena in February 2008, when armed opposition groups attempted to overthrow the Chadian regime. However, the situation remains fragile and volatile, given the internal instability within Chad and spill-over from the sub-region.

The climate of insecurity and instability continues to seriously undermine humanitarian operations by limiting access for the delivery of life-saving assistance. Banditry in the form of carjackings, armed robberies and crime is a regular occurrence in an already challenging environment in Eastern Chad. Consequently, some NGOs have resorted to temporary suspension, scaling down of activities, or complete withdrawal. In the absence of a settlement to the crisis in Darfur, there is no prospect for the return of refugees. Following a transition from EUFOR, the presence of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and the deployment of the Integrated Detachment for Safety (DIS) are vital to the improvement of the security situation for refugees, IDPs, local population and the humanitarian community.

Despite the increasingly challenging environment in Eastern Chad, the delivery of critical humanitarian needs continued in 2008. With the support of a Deputy Humanitarian Coordination, OCHA supported these efforts by further strengthening the coordination structures in Eastern Chad and consolidating humanitarian reform. In Chad, the humanitarian response to a large extent was dependent on the context, as the humanitarian community continued to react to emerging needs.

Performance Evaluation

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

2008 was marked by significant improvement in the overall coordination of humanitarian assistance to vulnerable populations. This included better and more regular information-sharing and gaps/needs’ identification, to inform humanitarian response under the different clusters. As of December 2008, nine out of eleven clusters had been rolled out (excluding early recovery and environment). The cluster approach put in place in July 2007 was rendered operational, except for two clusters (environment and early recovery). Inter-agency cluster-based assessments and village assessments now take place on a regular basis to monitor progress. When emergencies arise, cluster-based recommendations are formulated and the OCHA sub-office follows up.

A strategy enabling seamless transition and early recovery

The acute emergency is deemed over; however, the security situation is still very volatile, with only critical staff in the area of operations. In addition to those held in Eastern Chad, coordination meetings focused on the return process and durable solutions. Such solutions for IDPs have been established in four locations where OCHA sub offices are located (Abeche, Farchana, Goz Beida and Koukou). In April 2008, a strategic framework for the return, relocation and integration of IDPs drafted by OCHA was widely endorsed by local authorities, United Nations agencies and other humanitarian partners. While transition and early recovery plans are still in their infancy, OCHA will continue to facilitate transitional considerations regarding early recovery and long-term approaches to IDPs.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues

OCHA ensured that the mandate, modus operandi and activities of the European force and United Nations Mission in the Central African Republic and Chad (MINURCAT) were appropriately conveyed to the aid community. Coordination and dialogue between humanitarian and military actors were crucial to maintaining the humanitarian space, guaranteeing a clear division of labour, and reiterating basic humanitarian working principles. The OCHA role in civil military coordination contributed to a more effective interface between the military (EUFOR) and the humanitarian community. In ensuring adherence to humanitarian principles by non-humanitarian actors, a number of workshops and regular meetings were conducted.

Advocacy efforts for improved humanitarian access and preserving the humanitarian space resulted in critical gaps being met.

Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices

All clusters share information arising from inter-agency missions/assessments through OCHA inter-agency information management tools, including a database on key humanitarian indicators, maps, etc.

Côte d’Ivoire

The signing of the Ouagadougou Political Agreement (OPA) in March 2007 put an end to armed hostilities and offered new opportunities for peace. Côte d'Ivoire (CDI) embarked upon economic recovery as it resumed discussions with donors. The overall humanitarian context improved throughout 2008 with a spontaneous large-scale voluntary return of IDPs, reinforcing the International Organization for Migration (IOM)-supported return operation completed in 2007.

Despite these improvements, persistent reports highlighted key humanitarian concerns in the West. IDPs continued to face reintegration and protection problems. These included land ownership disputes, nationality and citizenship issues, and insecurity. In particular, along the Guiglo-Bloléquin axis, host communities violently denied some returnees access to their farms in Zéaglo and neighboring settlements.

In some northern areas, climatic hazards coupled with poor harvest and limited access to health facilities accentuated malnutrition among vulnerable groups. A July 2008 Standardised Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey by WFP and UNICEF in collaboration with the state-run Programme National de Nutrition (PNN) revealed up to 17.5 percent global acute malnutrition (GAM) among northern populations. With the positive evolution in the humanitarian context, OCHA began to refocus its strategic priorities. Under the leadership of the Humanitarian Coordinator, OCHA established co-located UNDP/Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO]/UNICEF/IOM/OCHA offices in Guiglo (West) in June 2008. A United Nations joint office led by a UNDP/OCHA appointed Humanitarian Affairs Officer (HAO) is planned for 2009 in Korhogo (North). Finally, the UNDAF for 2009-2013 was developed in accordance with national priorities.

Performance Evaluation

A predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system

OCHA ensured active involvement of the Inter-Agency Humanitarian Coordination Committee (IAHCC) — the local IASC — in the allocation of CERF grants from the under-funded and rapid response windows. This was done according to common humanitarian strategies and the CDI 2008 CAP. OCHA assisted the HC and IAHCC in reviewing and submitting the Mid-Year Review of the 2008 CAP, the 2009 Critical Humanitarian Needs document, and the HC’s CERF 2007. OCHA also ensured the monitoring of ERF project implementation, as well as the reporting and audit processes.

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

In facilitating the roll out of the cluster approach in 2008, OCHA strengthened humanitarian coordination mechanisms managed by the HC though the IAHCC. To address reintegration and protection concerns, OCHA further facilitated the May 2008 reconciliation workshop in collaboration with government and community leaders in Bloléquin. Parties tentatively agreed to the return of non native communities and free access to their former plantations. OCHA also facilitated “Go and See” and “Come and Talk” home visits in the Zou area, where relief teams accompanied IDP representatives. While reinforcing collaboration between humanitarian partners, authorities, and IDPs, these efforts began to address the needs of the 76,000 voluntary returnees registered in the western regions.

Action-oriented analysis of humanitarian trends and emerging policy issues

OCHA continued to regularly update, consolidate, and disseminate information; maps and data on IDP return in the West (including 42 situation reports); security incidents; gender-based violence (GBV); peace committees; social cohesion issues; malnutrition in the North; and flood preparedness. Workshops in Abidjan, Bouaké and Guiglo trained NGOs, United Nations agencies and state aid workers on the best practices concerning information management and reporting during a transition phase.

Protection advanced at the global, regional, and national levels

OCHA reviewed and implemented its CHAP and Strategy for the protection of IDPs. The plan was endorsed by the IAHCC and the governmental Inter-Ministerial Committee on IDPs in January 2008.

Democratic Republic of the Congo

In early 2008, the ceasefire following intense combat between the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and Congrès national pour la défense du peuple (CNDP) rebels seemed to be holding. The Kivu Conference on Peace provided a forum for the various factions to air grievances, establish constructive dialogue, and agree on steps forward. Humanitarian actors expressed optimism that the Conference and Amani peace process might end years of human suffering in Eastern DRC. Hopes were dashed, however, following a gradual increase in clashes between the FARDC and CNDP, and the temporary CNDP withdrawal from the Amani process.

During the second half of 2008, fighting intensified, forcing over 400,000 people in North Kivu to flee their homes. In Ituri, the resurgence of several armed groups that were thought to have dissolved — and subsequent clashes with the FARDC — resulted in over 100,000 new IDPs. In late September, Joseph Kony’s LRA began a vicious campaign of kidnapping, rape, and mass murder against the population of Dungu territory in Northern Province Orientale. Under the overall coordination of OCHA, the Rapid Response Mechanism and the clusters conducted rapid needs assessments and delivered lifesaving health, food, non-food, and water and sanitation assistance to displaced populations and their host communities.

Yet, humanitarian needs in DRC were not limited to conflict areas. The humanitarian community responded to epidemics, acute malnutrition and food insecurity, as well as violence against civilians where thresholds established in the Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) were surpassed. The recurring humanitarian crises and a lack of sustainable development have left portions of the Congolese population in a very fragile state and highly vulnerable to new emergencies. Moreover, due to poor transport and widespread insecurity in the East, OCHA and humanitarian actors face significant constraints in accessing populations.

OCHA has been instrumental in helping United Nations agencies, international and local NGOs, donors and the Government identify and respond to the humanitarian needs of civilian populations in the DRC. Whether organizing and supporting inter-agency assessment missions, or negotiating access and respect for humanitarian principles with the Government of DRC and armed actors, OCHA has been a driving force behind humanitarian action in the DRC. OCHA strengthened inter-cluster coordination at national and provincial levels and further promoted use of the Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP) and its needs assessment tools for a better identification of needs and improved coordination of humanitarian activities in the DRC. The HAP has also become the tool for the prioritisation of funding allocations, including those from the CHF, the CERF, and bilateral funding. In the framework of the HAP, OCHA worked with partners to update scenarios and humanitarian contingency plans every six months.

Performance Evaluation

A predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system

HAP was 78 percent funded in 2008, the highest level of funding in five years. Of the $654 million received, 41 million emanated from the CERF under-funded emergency window, of which DRC has been the single largest beneficiary for the past three years. Another $125 million came from the Pooled Fund through two standard allocations and several allocations from the Rapid Reserve for the crises in the Kivus. The percentage of Pooled Funding provided directly to NGOs jumped from 32 percent in 2007 to over 50 percent in 2008. The HAP guides all funding allocations and contributions. Funded activities are directly linked to HAP objectives, activities, and priority areas outlined in HAP 2008.

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

OCHA continued to work with partners to strengthen Provincial Inter Agency Committees (CPIAs), provincial strategy and policy coordination bodies, and multi-sector coordination through inter-cluster coordination mechanisms. The HC’s decision to request that clusters designate NGO co-facilitators led to improved cluster participation, more representative strategies, and more balanced funding distribution. In Katanga and North Kivu, OCHA also established “cadres de concertation”, coordination mechanisms whereby humanitarian actors work with the provincial authorities to resolve issues related to civilian protection and delivery of humanitarian assistance. There are plans to do the same in South Kivu and Province Orientale. Additional outreach is still required to ensure greater engagement of government technical services in clusters.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues

OCHA role in liaising with United Nations Mission in DRC (MONUC), FARDC and armed groups was key to ensuring security for humanitarian actors, improving protection for civilians, and ensuring access to humanitarian assistance. OCHA recruited a legal consultant to navigate the complex rules and regulations for NGOs; ultimately, a user’s manual was produced. With support from donors and in collaboration with the DRC Government, OCHA organized a mission by the UK-based Charity Commission to review existing NGO registration procedures, improve efficiency, and explore a revision of existing legislation. More missions are to follow. In the meantime, ad-hoc demarches with authorities have helped address reoccurring tracasseries (harassment).

A common approach to needs assessments and impact evaluation

OCHA worked with clusters to set thresholds for humanitarian action in the DRC, such as a combination of common indicators (e.g., high mortality/morbidity rates and malnutrition trigger responses by health, food security and water/sanitation clusters). Clusters then agreed on a set of five strategic objectives and corresponding multi-sector assistance packages aimed at bringing indicators below threshold levels. This framework forms the basis for the DRC’s Common Humanitarian Strategy, the HAP. Clusters report on activity indicators as well as indicators linked to the strategic objectives and the humanitarian thresholds.

Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices

The 3Ws database, the web platform, and mapping services have all become important operational tools for the humanitarian community. Mapping of humanitarian threshold indicators collected by clusters allows visualization of priority areas and monitoring of impact. Throughout the crises in the Kivus and Province Orientale, OCHA produced and disseminated detailed maps that tracked population movements, alerted humanitarian actors to areas of insecurity, and inventoried humanitarian actions in favor of affected populations. The website managed by OCHA but belonging to the humanitarian community in the DRC, is an important platform for information-sharing and dissemination. OCHA further supports clusters with tools for monitoring and evaluation in the context of the HAP.


The overall operational environment in Eritrea remains challenging. The border dispute with Ethiopia (and more recently Djibouti) is an unresolved facet of Eritrea’s socio-economic development. The impasse also soured relations between Eritrea and the United Nations. As a result, the mandate of the United Nations Mission in Eritrea and Ethiopia (UNMEE) was terminated at the end of July 2008. Additionally, limited strategic inter-agency coordination with government departments and limited NGO operations have resulted in a reduced number of humanitarian partners, as well as difficulties in coordinating humanitarian assistance.

While there is no up-to-date information on the food security situation in Eritrea, the drought and food crises affecting the Horn of Africa countries (as evidenced by appeals in Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti) point to a looming famine and critical humanitarian crises. The risk of food insecurity was exacerbated by volatile global food and fuel prices. This resulted in sharp increases in the staple cereal prices in the local market. An estimated 85,500 malnourished children and 300,000 pregnant and lactating women — as well as urban poor, HIV/AIDS — infected, newly returned/resettled IDPs and drought-affected — are most vulnerable. Up to two million people might be food-insecure.

Besides the strained relations with authorities, OCHA faced numerous constraints in 2008, including: lack of assessments; access restrictions for international staff; prohibition of smaller NGOs and United Nations partnership with NGOs; lack of strategic coordination and humanitarian engagement with government; disavowal of the humanitarian situation; absence of a CAP or a strategic resource mobilization tool; and existence of a diesel embargo on United Nations agencies and NGOs.

Performance Evaluation

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

In 2008, OCHA was instrumental in supporting and maintaining the monthly meetings of the IASC, the only humanitarian forum chaired by the HC and attended by United Nations agencies, NGOs, and donors. With the support of OCHA, the IASC was responsible for preparation and updating of the CHAP and Contingency Plan as an internal IASC document. Under the chairmanship of the HC, the IASC vetted and prioritized CERF resources.

Unfortunately, due to access restrictions and the lack of implementation partners (e.g., NGOs), little progress was achieved in rolling out the cluster approach at field level. However, humanitarian reform, and particularly the cluster approach, was introduced at country level at the end of 2006/early 2007.

Greater incorporation of disaster risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response

With the support of OCHA, the United Nations Country team prepared a contingency plan. Even though government departments disengaged from humanitarian/emergency issues, disaster risk reduction was incorporated within the UNDAF. OCHA will assist through capacity-building in collaboration with UNDP.

A strategy enabling seamless transition and early recovery

Because of the Eritrean authority disavowal of the humanitarian/emergency situation, United Nations operational agencies incorporated emergency responses within their normal development framework (UNDAF). This enabled seamless transition from relief to early recovery. While humanitarian/development programs are implemented through government partners, humanitarian partners have participated in strategy development at the cluster/sector working group level.

Action-oriented analysis of humanitarian trends and emerging policy issues

This objective was only partially achieved. No inter-agency assessments have been conducted since 2006. Analysis of humanitarian trends was based on anecdotal evidence, collected by United Nations operational agencies. And they were supplemented by regional trends in the Horn of Africa. Policy issues were therefore difficult to discern.


2008 was marked by the combined effects of the global food crisis and a devastating drought across the Horn of Africa. High food prices and seasonal rains generated alarming levels of food insecurity. In addition to the 7.6 million people addressed under the Productive Safety Net Program (PSNP), food relief requirements rose from 2.2 million in April to 6.4 million by September 2008. Meanwhile, in the Somali region of 4.5 million people, a drought and counter-insurgency operations led to a complex humanitarian emergency.

The Ethiopian Government launched an ambitious program to restructure institutions and policy orientation. It also adopted a Disaster Risk Management (DRM) approach to the prevention, mitigation, and management of humanitarian crisis. The restructuring process provided opportunities for humanitarian partners to support government efforts to develop early warning and preparedness capacity, and roll out relevant programmatic interventions.

Despite progress in terms of emergency response and preparedness, the humanitarian community faces a number of challenges that continue to limit the overall success of interventions. Ethiopia was one of many countries experiencing the impact of the global food crisis. It was forced to compete for limited resources, leading to considerable and persistent shortfalls of resources required to fully respond to the emergency. In addition, the year was marked by a significant revision of the number of people affected by the crisis; this created problems in terms of mobilization and subsequent targeting of resources.

Performance Evaluation

A predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system

In 2008, the engagement of clusters in the proposal review process enhanced the understanding of pool funding mechanisms. While income to the Humanitarian Response Fund increased from $14 million in 2007 to 68 million in 2008; expenditure rose from six million to 45 million. Strengthened relationships with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), and the Ethiopian Youth Council for Higher Opportunity (ECHO) improved collaboration and information flow. Local NGO and Red Cross participated in the HRF review Board. And the number of HRF implementing partners approximately doubled to 29 in 2008.

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

OCHA Ethiopia actively engaged in coordination structures at the federal, regional and zonal levels. It provided up-to-date analysis of the humanitarian situation for decision-making. The OCHA Field Coordination Unit deployed HAO to all affected regions and gathered strategic information for government and humanitarian partners. At the Addis Ababa level, OCHA convened a bi-weekly humanitarian coordination forum. It chaired the weekly United Nations Cluster Leads meeting. OCHA facilitated the establishment of the Ethiopia Humanitarian Country Team (EHCT). It provided strong support to government counterparts during the multi-stakeholder seasonal assessment and secretariat support for three joint flash appeals. OCHA continued to advocate a transition and early recovery strategy, as well as strengthened links between humanitarian and development partners.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues

OCHA developed a strategy that led to the 2009 establishment of the IDP Monitoring Working Group, responsible for IDP response and information-sharing. An Access Monitoring database documents and tracks all access issues. In 2008, OCHA regularly advocated for humanitarian access through dialogue with government and military authorities.

Protection advanced at the global, regional, and national levels

In the absence of an official government-appointed counterpart on protection, the Protection Cluster continues to take the lead. OCHA spearheads discussions with government to resolve this matter.


In 2008, Guinea continued to be affected by extreme poverty and vulnerability. This was triggered by socioeconomic instability, decaying infrastructure, small-scale natural disasters, disease outbreaks, rising expectations among the vulnerable populations, and civil unrest. To compound matters, Guinea was severely struck by the international food crisis.

Under the coordination of the Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator, supported by OCHA, United Nations agencies submitted projects worth $50 million to address acute needs, part of which was covered by the CERF. As other donors ultimately came forward, United Nations agencies were able to supply approximately 600,000 vulnerable people with food, seeds, manure and tools.

In December, President Lansana Conte died after 24 years in power and a military junta took over in a bloodless coup. Despite promises to improve living conditions, the vast majority still endure socioeconomic hardship. Besides funding difficulties, the main constraints on humanitarian coordination are related to the very unpredictable environment and minimal capacity at all levels of the government.

The priority of OCHA and its development partners is to ensure a possible transition towards early recovery and development. To that end, OCHA has worked to reinforce the capacity of humanitarian actors — especially that of government — to better prepare for and respond to natural and manmade disasters.

Performance Evaluation

Improved coordination mechanisms at country, regional, and international level

OCHA ensured that all humanitarian operations as well as field missions are organized according to the principles of the cluster approach. It supported the Humanitarian and Resident Coordinator in convening IASC meetings. It ensured arrangements for handing over coordination functions in transition/early recovery contexts, as the first phase of an UNCT joint rehabilitation program for Guinée Forestière. OCHA also oversaw a mission in Guinée Forestière to update and reinforce coordination and humanitarian response mechanisms.

Greater incorporation of disaster risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response

In collaboration with the National Service for Humanitarian Action (SENAH), OCHA organized two workshops on disaster preparedness and management for authorities and technical staff. The meetings gathered all regional prefectures and led to the drafting of a map of disasters. Through the clusters, OCHA revised the UNCT Guinea Contingency Plan, incorporating early recovery aspects and preparedness activities for emergency response. The early warning, risk analysis, and preparedness of all partners — including national counterparts — were markedly improved.

A strategy contributing to seamless transition and early recovery

The first phase of the UNCT’s joint rehabilitation program for Guinée Forestière was implemented. UNCT planned its involvement in the government emergency development program, supported by OCHA. OCHA role in the transition from humanitarian to development focused on resource mobilization and joint programming.

Action-oriented analysis of humanitarian trends and emerging policy issues

Information management tools improved humanitarian briefing and information dissemination to the wider humanitarian community.


The widespread violence following the disputed 2007 Kenyan elections dominated humanitarian action in 2008. A National Accord paved the way for the establishment of a coalition government. However, conflict and violence led to 1,300 deaths and an estimated 500,000 IDPs. Initial violence heavily affected populations in Western, Nyanza, and Coast provinces. The main area of displacement was in Kenya’s bread-basket region of Rift Valley Province. The crisis exacerbated chronic vulnerability, food insecurity, and poverty. And the impact on food production would be felt into 2009.

OCHA and the Resident Coordinator of the United Nations focused an immediate humanitarian response on the massive displacement. By year’s end, OCHA had facilitated the development of three rapid response CERF applications and one under-funded application for a total of $21.3 million. OCHA also revised and launched the Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan (EHRP) to address emerging needs. In 2008, humanitarian funding grew to $257 million with a further $57 million in pledges (81 percent through the EHRP).

Performance Evaluation

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

OCHA supported the roll out and guidance of 10 clusters. A Humanitarian Coordinator was named and humanitarian coordination structures were established in Nairobi, Eldoret and Nakuru. OCHA ensured an IASC country team was formed in Nairobi and the weekly Kenya Humanitarian Forum was set up. From the outset, links to government coordination were put in place at national and district levels, via Eldoret and Nakuru sub-offices. By May, the government created a Humanitarian Stakeholders Forum for which OCHA serves a secretariat function. In addition, OCHA provided humanitarian analysis for the Donor Coordination Group, through the Emergency Humanitarian Response Plan, informing funding decisions throughout the year.

Greater incorporation of disaster risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response

OCHA held a cluster transition workshop. It guided clusters into national level working groups with emergency arrangements for reactivation. By year’s end, all but two of the clusters had transitioned. OCHA responded to emerging needs by coordinating flood (in Budalangi), conflict and IDP (in Mandera) response. OCHA wrote several analytical reports on conflict and displacement. It organized a multi-country summit of Humanitarian Coordinators and OCHA offices to improve information flow and analysis for the humanitarian situation along Kenya’s borders.

OCHA continued its engagement on disaster risk reduction by supporting consultations to finalize the draft National Disaster Response Plan, initially facilitated in 2007. OCHA participated in the drafting of the National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategy. Additionally, it organized trainings in disaster preparedness in ten districts and supported training in the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse in five others. OCHA participated in all major inter-agency assessments and supported the analysis and implementation of recommendations for the Long Rains Food Security Assessment.

Protection advanced at the global, regional, and national levels

Through the Protection Cluster, OCHA facilitated the inclusion of pre-existing needs in the development of an IDP strategy. It also supported advocacy by printing and disseminating 3,000 copies of a Kiswahili version of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices

OCHA established a humanitarian website for coordinated information-sharing. It also supported the set up and maintenance of a cluster website. OCHA provided weekly humanitarian updates and two in-depth analytical reports, along with regular funding updates to partners and government. OCHA produced minutes of all key coordination meetings at national level and in Nakuru and Eldoret hubs. OCHA co-led the information management theme group for the United Nations country team in Kenya. And it is spearheading the development of an integrated information management network.


The political climate in Niger further deteriorated in June 2008. The arrest of the former Prime Minister Hama Amadou precipitated a national debate between supporters and opponents of a third term for President Mamadou Tandja. The 2007 reignited conflict between Government forces and the Niger Movement for Justice, an armed opposition group active in the northern region of Agadez, continued well into 2008, with sporadic clashes.

In Northern Niger the security phase rose in seven of the eight regions, and Agadez was declared a military operations area. Landmines directly impacted accessibility and humanitarian activities. Humanitarian access to Iferouane, Gougaram, and Danet in Agadez region remained extremely limited, hindering effective humanitarian response. Carjacking and kidnapping increased. And the country drew the eyes of the world when the United Nations Special Envoy for Niger went missing on 14 December 2008.

Effective humanitarian action still faces significant challenges in Niger. The government suspended several humanitarian partners, such as Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) France (expelled after) and Action Against Hunger (ACF). This decreased humanitarian response in some vulnerable regions.

Niger continues to face chronic food insecurity and malnutrition. A Government-led food vulnerability assessment conducted in November 2008 revealed that almost 3 million (22 percent) endure food insecurity and 1 million (7 percent) suffer from severe food insecurity. Likewise, a nutrition survey carried out in June 2008 showed a chronic malnutrition rate of over 39 percent and a global acute malnutrition rate of almost 11 percent among children under five years of age.

Humanitarian community efforts were strengthened by OCHA work. This included: better preparedness, coordination (including situational assessment, information gathering and information sharing), resource mobilization and advocacy. Nevertheless, the OCHA Niger office required additional capacity in information management, advocacy and humanitarian reform. Due to government sensitivity to humanitarian concerns, fundraising activities were limited within the country.

Performance Evaluation

Greater incorporation of disaster risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response

In 2008, OCHA’s work was instrumental in supporting Rapid Assessment Forms via the national Early Warning System and facilitating operational preparedness and response to floods. OCHA led the inter agency contingency plan elaboration. This document is regularly updated with the inputs from all United Nations agencies and NGO partners. OCHA facilitated the elaboration of the national contingency plan, which focuses on food security and nutrition. Under the leadership of WHO, OCHA contributed to the preparedness effort on the avian flu contingency plan.

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

OCHA conducted several missions in the regions to assess food security, nutrition, flood and IDPs situation. The results of those missions were shared in country and the responses done accordingly where possible. In support of response coordination, OCHA provided information and coordination tools. Additionally, OCHA facilitated the mobilization of around US$ 10 million within the framework of the CERF to address other vital issues: malnutrition, meningitis, food and the United Nations Humanitarian Air Service. OCHA served as secretariat of the local IASC, comprised of United Nations operational agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross. Food security, nutrition and health clusters (Food security, nutrition, and health) were strengthened at the national and field level through a stronger OCHA implication and field presence.

Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices

OCHA ensured that the humanitarian contact list and meeting schedule were continually updated; a matrix of NGOs and Red Cross activities were implemented and updated; an interactive mapping was created; and the Field Document Management System (FiDMS) was regularly updated. However, the website and “Who does What Where” were not implemented due to limited staffing.

In addition, an advocacy strategy and an information gathering and sharing were not implemented because of political sensitivities.


During 2008, the population in need almost doubled from 1.8 million to 3.2 million. These numbers include those affected by floods, droughts, and disrupted markets — as well as new IDPs fleeing recent violence and prior IDPs. The majority of the most vulnerable live in the South Central region deemed one of the most volatile places on earth. With this as a backdrop, 34 humanitarian workers were killed and 26 abducted in 2008. By year’s end, 16 workers were still being held captive. At one point, Somalia had more than 350 roadblocks throughout the country, hindering the delivery of much needed aid to the country’s most vulnerable populations.

Given the general insecurity, OCHA and the entire humanitarian community reduced their field presence and focused activities on areas where they could be most effective. Working remotely and by proxy severely compromised humanitarian delivery. In response, OCHA adopted a flexible approach to coordination, exploiting windows of opportunity in access; OCHA nimbly moved staff and utilized networks in inaccessible areas.

In 2008, OCHA began supporting local capacity for emergency preparedness in the northern area of Puntland. It provided response and supported transitional/early recovery activities where appropriate. Along with donors and the international community, OCHA advocated the necessary expertise and experience, as well as support for NGO start-up costs and capacity.

Performance Evaluation

A predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system

The 2008 CAP was funded at 71 percent. Yet, there was a significant disparity between the funding received for various clusters. The HRF responded in a timely fashion to critical emergency needs. It disbursed a total of $14 million to a total 48 projects. Five CERF projects were funded in 2008. United Nations agencies received approximately $11.7 million. Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels Where and when the security situation permitted, OCHA ensured that national and international staff were deployed to key locations in Somalia. Throughout 2008, OCHA provided three international staff and 11 national staff.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian principles and issues

Due to resistance by many humanitarian partners, the Joint Operating Principles (JOPs) were not adopted. However, throughout the year particular aspects of the JOPs were introduced, such as the prevention of sexual exploitation and abuse. A key goal is to enable more flexible, longer-term funding to assist NGO operations in underserved areas and cover emergency needs and gaps. In addition, OCHA has been promoting the application of the principles of humanity, neutrality and impartiality to day-to-day humanitarian operations to improve underlying assistance and protection conditions.

Protection advanced at the global, regional, and national levels

The IDP working group enabled work on an initial IDP strategy draft. In conjunction with UNHCR, OCHA facilitated workshops in Somalia on the Protection of Civilians to build national NGO capacity. As co-chair of the Protection Cluster and chair of the IDP Working Group, OCHA emphasized humanitarian access, protection of civilians, and advocacy for IDPs.

Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices

OCHA supported the clusters in developing tools and a range of new information management products (response maps, response matrices, etc.). Thirty requests were received for printed maps and data in the second half of the year alone. Over 60 maps were produced to satisfy requests. At its peak, website hits reached 1,457 per month. The team generated advanced mapping of IDP settlements in the Afgooye corridor (one of the largest concentrations of IDPs in the world) and Baidoa. This was a key tool for humanitarian response coordination.


In 2008, the humanitarian, security, and political situation in Sudan continued to deteriorate, with increased levels of civilian displacement in Darfur and targeting of United Nations and associated personnel.

In Darfur, some 317,000 people were newly displaced. Eleven humanitarian workers were killed and 24 more were wounded. In addition, approximately 315 humanitarian and United Nations-African Union Mission in Darfur (UNAMID) vehicles were hijacked. Among other things, this inhibited delivery of food rations.

Despite reaffirmed commitments to the technical framework for operations in Darfur, namely the Moratorium on Restrictions and the Joint Communiqué on the Facilitation of the Humanitarian Operation in Darfur, several relief efforts faced programmatic restrictions. In part, these were due to stringent regulations regarding travel permits and medical inventory requirements, as well as interference with personnel such as violent detainments.

The UNAMID peacekeeping force made modest inroads in Darfur with regard to the protection of civilians. Often coming under attack and suffering numerous casualties, it facilitated the relief operations, without the mission-critical capacities required to fully implement its mandate.

In July, Prosecutor for the International Criminal Court (ICC) requested the arrest of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir. This fundamentally altered the political and security landscape, and further affected humanitarian operation and OCHA coordination efforts.

Performance Evaluation

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

With the support of the HCT, UNAMID and OCHA increased civil military coordination capacity to promote a constructive and consultative relationship with the peacekeeping force. Contacts with United Nations operations in Chad, CAR, and South Sudan increased with the escalating complexity on the ground. Coordination included information-sharing mechanisms and contingency planning exercises to address the sub-regional implications of a continued and expanded humanitarian crisis. In addition, in December, United Nations agencies officially accepted the cluster system in-country.

Strengthened OCHA emergency response capacity

Civil-military coordination increased, as did contact with the host government upon the arrival of the Northern Sudan Deputy Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator. Contingency and business continuity plans were revised and strengthened throughout the year, particularly following the ICC Prosecutor’s application for an arrest warrant.

More strategic advocacy of humanitarian issues and principles

OCHA completed a series of humanitarian workshops for Darfur rebel movements and Government officials. These were primarily aimed at clarifying the roles and responsibilities of all stakeholders and ensuring the safety and respect for the civilian population and humanitarian community.

Strengthened information management based on common standards and best practices

While increasing attention to recovery and development activities in South Sudan, OCHA continued to support the information products requirements of the world’s largest humanitarian operation. In addition, OCHA maintained several information-management systems and provided internal and external IT trainings for United Nations and NGO staff.


In Northern Uganda, by 2008, three quarters of all internally displaced had left the IDP camps. In 2008, population movement out of the camps continued despite increased anxiety over the December launch of joint military operations against the LRA by Uganda, South Sudan, and DR Congo.

In Karamoja, up to 970,000 people are now facing an acute livelihood crisis, following a third failed harvest in 2008. Systematic marginalization, lack of development, cattle rustling, small arms proliferation, and successive environmental shocks in a semi-arid region combined to exacerbate an increasingly precarious situation.

Humanitarian intervention in Karamoja was therefore carefully tailored to ensure that urgent programs promote the achievement of longer-term developmental objectives. The most significant constraint faced in 2008 was the delay in execution of the Government’s Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) for Northern Uganda. The PRDP was scheduled to begin on 1 July 2008. However, in December 2008, the Government announced that full implementation would be postponed to the fiscal year 2009/10. Through CAP 2008, the humanitarian community attempted to bridge the transition by including humanitarian, early recovery, and recovery projects.

Yet, lack of support for CAP recovery needs prompted a substantial mid-year revision and removal of recovery-oriented projects.

Performance Evaluation

Improved coordination structures at the global, regional, and national levels

In 2008, OCHA promoted humanitarian approaches that segue into recovery. It facilitated dialogue on transitioning the clusters to national coordination mechanisms and promoted these measures with government counterparts, humanitarian groups, and development partners. Where the cluster approach was not rolled out through local IASC decision (Karamoja), OCHA successfully advocated for sector leads to fulfil the cluster lead terms of reference.

A strategy enabling seamless transition and early recovery

With OCHA support, the clusters made solid progress in establishing necessary linkages to adapt to recovery coordination at the district level. However, much work remains at the national level. Main challenges include: the lack of capacity within line ministries to undertake the coordination role; the difficulty in identifying relevant counterparts for some clusters; and the large budgetary focus of many Sector Working Groups.

A predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system

OCHA promoted inclusion of humanitarian, early recovery, and recovery needs in the CAP 2008. It continually advocated the maintenance of previous levels of financing, while appropriately shifting the funding focus toward remaining humanitarian and initial recovery needs. However, as noted, lack of support for recovery within the CAP led to a significant mid-year overhaul. Thereafter, the CAP was revised to focus on remaining humanitarian needs.

Strengthened OCHA emergency response capacity

An UNDAC Team was successfully deployed on an assessment mission in November 2008. Government accepted the final mission report and humanitarians are engaging to support implementation of the recommendations, including strengthening government response and preparedness capacity.

Greater incorporation of disaster risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response

OCHA has facilitated and/or led contingency planning and inter-agency assessments related to high-risk natural hazards, including flooding and epidemic disease outbreaks (cholera, Hepatitis E).


The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe deteriorated significantly in 2008 due to collapsing socio-economic infrastructure, high food insecurity, and a progressively more volatile political environment. The socio-economic crisis was characterized by high unemployment, migration of skilled workers, declining access to basic services, and one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence rates in the world. Zimbabwe represents a humanitarian crisis requiring significant international attention.

Post-election violence in May displaced over 36,000 persons. NGO access to vulnerable populations was restricted for six months. In August, one of the world’s largest cholera epidemics in recent history broke out. It quickly expanded to all ten provinces, affecting 32,000 people and killing 1,500 by December. The epidemic was due to the lack of safe drinking water, inadequacy of sanitation, and declining health care infrastructure within an already overburdened healthcare system.

Compounding matters, agricultural production was severely affected by the delayed onset of rains and limited access to agricultural inputs. This worsened the food security situation, with over five million people receiving various degrees of food assistance. Meanwhile, teachers went on strike due to lack of salary payments, severely affecting the education system. Attendance rapidly fell from 85 percent in 2007 to 20 percent by the end of 2008. Hyper-inflation negatively affected humanitarian operations given rising operating costs, limited banking access, and import restrictions.

Performance Evaluation

Predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system

In 2008, CAP funding covered $420 million or 72 percent of the $583 million requested. As well, $7 million contributed to projects outside the CAP. The Zimbabwe Emergency Response Fund complemented the traditional funding mechanisms.

Despite the limited presence at field level, humanitarian partners reviewed humanitarian needs on a continuous basis throughout the year. In addition to the 2008 CAP and its Mid Year Review, Zimbabwe updated donors on assistance gaps with the Emergency Humanitarian Assistance Package issued following the September political agreement.

Zimbabwe also took part in the Southern African Region Floods Preparedness and Response Plan.

Improved Coordination structures at country level

Coordination structures were improved with the roll-out of clusters for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), Health, Nutrition, Agriculture and Emergency and Telecommunications. The clusters are complemented by the five sector working groups of Education, Protection, Food Aid, Mobile and Vulnerable Populations, Logistics and Early Recovery.

Multiple fora facilitated broader coordination in Harare at inter-cluster/sector level. A weekly humanitarian briefing for all humanitarian actors was successfully introduced in May. OCHA also supported an inter-cluster coordination meeting (for all cluster and sector leads) to improve the response overview and gap analysis. At the strategic level, the Humanitarian Country Team continued to guide the humanitarian policy and response.

While coordination in Harare and Bulawayo was strengthened in 2008, the response coordination in the provinces remained a challenge. The cholera epidemic highlighted the need for better sectoral coordination at provincial level, especially in health and WASH.

Greater incorporation of risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response

OCHA ensured the preparation and continuous update of a multi-hazard contingency plan, covering floods, political violence, cyclones, and diseases. The humanitarian situation analysis remained weak, however, primarily due to limited field presence and assessments caused by restricted access and fuel unavailability.

Proactive advocacy and awareness of humanitarian principles

Following the election, the government increased access and facilitated the collective advocacy effort of the Humanitarian Coordinator, humanitarian partners, the Emergency Relief Coordinator and the United Nations Secretary-General. To systematically support humanitarian advocacy at all levels, key messages were developed and maintained. Particular focus was placed on de-linking the humanitarian response from the political crisis. This enabled enhanced collaboration and engagement of all stakeholders at all levels.