- Strong focus on disaster preparedness against a background of political tension and instability.
- Leading advocacy role in trying to maintain in-country humanitarian operations.
- Continuing partnership with Government structures in preparing for OCHA phase-out of operations in 2010.
While Guinea did not experience acute humanitarian problems in 2009, political tensions within the country made it imperative for OCHA to develop a strong focus on emergency preparedness and response. OCHA retained a strong commitment to working with Government partners and encouraging their participation in coordination mechanisms, including the cluster system. This was not without complications, with the Government’s presence in the Protection Cluster proving particularly sensitive after the events of 28 September, when security forces opened fire on an opposition rally in Conakry, killing over 150 people. OCHA consolidated its partnerships with NGOs and the Red Cross Movement in Guinea, cooperating on security arrangements in accordance with best practices on security collaboration, as outlined by the HCT in its Saving Lives Together guidelines.
With preparations under way to phase out the OCHA Country Office from June 2010, a key priority has been encouraging the Government to strengthen local and national capacity, particularly in relation to disaster preparedness. The Ministry of Environment and Energy and the Ministry of Security and Civil Protection remain key partners, as does the Service National de l’Action Humanitaire (SENA), the umbrella organization representing Guinean NGOs.
Drafting a national contingency plan was initiated through a workshop organized by OCHA in Conakry in June 2009. Three regional workshops were held to encourage effective preparedness and response mechanisms outside the capital. The HCT’s contingency plan was thoroughly revised in the wake of 28 September, while a Conakry-specific planning process was initiated in July 2009 looking to cover existing gaps. This had not been completed by the end of the year.
Advocacy efforts in 2009 highlighted the need to maintain consistent levels of humanitarian funding. There was a strong focus on maintaining WFP-managed humanitarian flights to the end of the year through the financial support of donors and CERF.
OCHA convened meetings with cluster leads and focal points to review humanitarian priorities and ensure effective information sharing. The latter was particularly important, given prevailing tensions in the last few months of 2009.
Regular monthly HCT meetings were supplemented by ad hoc meetings following 28 September. National partners from the Government and national NGOs were regularly invited to meetings.
Over 100 women and girls were victims of rape and other forms of sexual violence during and after 28 September. The Protection Cluster proved unable to address the problems deriving from these events. After the OCHA-led inter-cluster forum reviewed the issues raised, it was decided to shift the Protection Cluster’s leadership from UNICEF to UNHCR, while also soliciting external assistance from the Protection Standby Capacity Project (ProCap) and GenCap to help strengthen the cluster. Working groups on gender-based violence and child protection are being created, while moves are being made to devise a comprehensive protection strategy.
With OCHA scheduled to scale-down its coordination role in 2010, the Government has been encouraged to build national and local capacity, particularly in disaster preparedness.