- Preparation of an inter-agency Contingency Plan aimed at combating the threat from hurricanes and other natural disasters, allocating roles to different clusters and to the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH).
- Identification and mapping of a coordination mechanism including humanitarian and development structures, enabling tighter planning of coordination work in Haiti.
- Establishment of stronger field presence through the use of departmental representatives of the HC.
A crucial early priority for OCHA was addressing the disastrous legacy of the 2008 storms and hurricanes. They killed nearly 800 people, affected more than 800,000 others and paralysed rice production. An inter-agency contingency plan was drawn up and made public in August, amid concerns about the continuing threat from hurricanes.
The plan detailed potential assistance to an estimated 150,000 families across Haiti. Inter-agency clusters were set up to handle food aid, agriculture, education, nutrition and other issues in the wake of any disaster. Large stockpiles of food were pre-positioned and all-terrain vehicles made available, with helicopters on standby. The plan allocated roles and responsibilities to individual clusters in areas such as shelter, health, education, water and sanitation, and protection. OCHA also established an operational arrangement with MINUSTAH on its role during an emergency situation, with MINUSTAH ready to support the UNCT, notably on communications and cooperation with the military. These arrangements were in the process of being fine-tuned when the earthquake struck in January 2010.
In the broader context, OCHA looked to create more rational and effective coordinating mechanisms, improving linkages between the Government and the humanitarian community, bringing parallel structures closer together, avoiding duplication and strengthening information sharing. Deficiencies in these areas had previously handicapped coordination. OCHA also looked to build a stronger presence in the country’s interior. The deployment of six focal points at regional level, representing the HC outside Port-au-Prince, was part of this move towards a more decentralized approach to coordination and preparedness.
OCHA Haiti strengthened its provision of information products, setting up a more effective information service. Crucial information and data collection was carried out by the newly recruited OCHA humanitarian affairs officers, who conducted field missions to Artibonite, Grande Anse, Nippes and other areas to evaluate humanitarian needs.
OCHA provided constant support to the 11 clusters in place in Haiti, encouraging greater inter-cluster interaction, participating in meetings and providing relevant guidance when necessary. Meeting schedules were shared with the entire humanitarian community each week. Clusters were heavily involved in decision-making processes, notably in allocating CERF grants and in contingency planning.
OCHA encouraged each cluster to designate a co-facilitator from the NGO community to ensure business continuity during the absence of the cluster lead and the full consultation of all partners. OCHA organized IASC meetings chaired by the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/HC. These monthly meetings enabled information sharing between the UNCT and NGO representatives. OCHA was also in the process of facilitating a CERF allocation for the underfunded window to overcome gaps in humanitarian response and early recovery. OCHA managed an ERRF to support NGO partners and strengthen coordination.
Gender issues were factored into disaster preparedness strategies, which took account of women’s humanitarian response needs. Data collected during field assessment missions were disaggregated by sex and age in order to facilitate and ensure a targeted response process.