Goal 1: A better coordinated, more equitably supported international humanitarian response system
1.1 — A predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system
Adequate and Equitable Funding
In a year characterized by global economic downturn, the level of funding that OCHA helped to secure on behalf of the humanitarian system represented a major achievement. Funding for CAPs nearly doubled from the 2007 level to $7 billion, which is the most ever raised for appeals in a single year. Despite currency fluctuations, funding for CHFs and ERFs remained steady. Those same less-favourable exchange rates negated the increased CERF contributions that 22 Member States made in their national currencies, causing CERF to fall short of its $450 million target when measured in US dollars. Despite the difficult global economic climate, 17 Member States, the majority of them developing countries, became first-time CERF donors in 2009, bringing the number of countries that have made contributions to more than 115. Most importantly, CERF, which is now an established part of the humanitarian response architecture, allocated $397 million during 2009. In keeping with the mandate, the $268 million in rapid response funding was allocated in an average of three days after final requests were received.
OCHA’s target of increasing funding to CHFs/ERFs by $125 million was not achieved, due to external factors of unfavourable exchange rates and the planned Somalia CHF, with a target of $50 million, not being implemented in 2009. However, the support for country-based pooled funds has generally been consistent and positive. The Somalia CHF was finally endorsed at the end of the year after a consultative process with partners on the ground. Five new ERFs in critical humanitarian contexts were established in 2009, which bolstered assistance and coordination for those countries (Afghanistan, Colombia, Kenya, Nepal and Uganda). This brought the total number of ERFs up to 15. In addition, discussions on two other ERFs (Pakistan and Yemen) commenced in the fourth quarter. Most donors maintained their funding size and a few key donors significantly increased their contributions to country-based pooled funds in 2009. Belgium and Spain tripled their contributions, while Denmark increased from $1 million in 2008 to $15 million in 2009.
Funding for CAPs was markedly increased compared to previous years. Only one CAP (Côte d’Ivoire) was less than 64 per cent funded. Generally, the differences in funding among CAPs (in proportion to requirements) were far less steep than before. Factors responsible for this improvement include CERF targeting of underfunded crises for injection of funds, and apparently better coordination among donors regarding macro-level allocations spread between different crises. Improvement could also be attributed to the IASC’s engagement with the Good Humanitarian Donorship process, increased donor confidence in the CAP, and better information systems (including an improved Financial Tracking Service).
The CAP process has become significantly more rigorous, particularly in monitoring progress on reaching targets at cluster level. Nearly all CAP Mid-Year Reviews in 2009 referred back to targets set out in original CAPs six months earlier and adjusted where appropriate, noting how clusters had performed on key outputs. This is a major advance on the situation in preceding years, when there was little aggregate information about outputs, outcomes and the collective impact of humanitarian action in major crises. While such monitoring is still in its infancy and some conceptual development remains to be done, the experience in 2009 has established the key elements of what should become a standard framework.
Regarding the Flash Appeals, OCHA failed to meet ambitious targets. In 2009, only one out of seven Flash Appeals were published within seven days of the disaster, mainly due to the gradual onset of most of the emergencies, slowing the decision of RCs to develop an appeal.
Guidance and Accountability
At the system level, OCHA drove the process of creating the IASC Humanitarian Finance Group, which provides a platform for a more coherent approach to the new humanitarian financing architecture. OCHA made significant strides in managing humanitarian finances by developing and refining SOPs, particularly for managing CHFs and ERFs. Guidelines for CHF, ERF and start-up SOPS were developed, with the ERF Guidelines piloted for new ERFs in 2009.
In 2009, OCHA worked with partners to begin assessing progress in CAPs against key strategic indicators. These are the selected set of outcomes that, taken together, signal the overall trend of the crisis, the degree of effectiveness of the humanitarian response, and the key gaps and remaining needs. Pilots to introduce a standard, integrated reporting and monitoring framework were rolled out in Iraq and Somalia, and partially implemented in CAR, oPt and Uganda. Meanwhile, nearly all CAPs in 2009 reported to some extent on outputs per cluster versus the targets set out in their original CAPs six months earlier. This is a major stride forward from preceding years, in which there was very little aggregate information about outputs, outcomes and impact of humanitarian action on a collective level in major crises. While such monitoring is still in its infancy, and some conceptual development remains to be done, the experience in 2009 establishes a useful precedent.
OCHA continued to update and strengthen CERF guidance, implementing recommendations from the two-year evaluation, including revisions of the life-saving criteria and reviewing the underfunded window. OCHA developed a draft Performance and Accountability Framework (PAF) linked to CERF’s three main objectives: promoting early action and response to save lives; enhancing response to time-critical requirements based on demonstrable needs; and strengthening core elements of humanitarian response in underfunded crises. The CERF Advisory Group asked that the PAF be sufficiently rigorous, without being too onerous, and make maximum use of existing agency reporting processes. The PAF focuses on measuring the CERF’s added value and its impact on the overall humanitarian response in a country, distinguishing the impact of individual CERF-supported projects only where possible and sensible.
Field Support and Capacity-Building
During 2009, more than 15 field missions were undertaken to support country-level pooled funds. These not only helped with the start-up of new funds, but provided training, workshops, evaluations and donor consultations for new and existing funds. The CERF Secretariat conducted six training workshops in regional hubs.OCHA has also strengthened its capacity to manage ERFs financially. A dedicated pooled fund unit was created within the Administrative Office in Geneva (staff to be in place in early 2010). The unit’s main function will be processing grants and disbursements for all OCHA-managed ERFs.
The establishment of ERFs has previously been ad hoc and purely field driven. However, the creation of an ERF is now given careful consideration in the planning process for new OCHA offices and field presences. All existing offices have gone through some level of analysis to gauge if an ERF is feasible and adds value.
OCHA’s new Strategic Framework for 2010-2013 integrates humanitarian financing as a core function. This is based on lessons learned in 2009 regarding strengthening linkages between pooled funding mechanisms and other aspects of a coordinated humanitarian response, such as needs assessment, planning and monitoring. The new Strategic Framework will help ensure that different sections of OCHA work closely together on improving support to the overall programme cycle, rather than addressing individual components in isolation, both at the Headquarters and field level. For example, improving the evidence base for decision-making through better improved needs assessment is expected to have knock-on benefits for planning, financing, and monitoring and evaluation. In 2009, OCHA engaged at inter-agency level on how to start linking needs assessments more formally with CAPs and Flash Appeals. OCHA also held inter-branch discussions on how the Humanitarian Dashboard could become a key tool in presenting and categorizing information contained in appeal documents.
1.2 — Improved coordination structures at country, regional and international level
In 2009, humanitarian leadership at all levels has benefited from improved policy guidance, a clearer definition of responsibilities and a move toward stronger accountability systems. At the global level, much focus was placed on working with humanitarian partners to provide clear guidance supporting humanitarian leadership, particularly in the area of partnership. By late 2009, IASC guidance for HCTs had been developed and disseminated, promoting greater consistency in HCT modus operandi, and reinforcing guiding principles, including a focus on partnership and strategic decision-making. Meanwhile, the development of a draft ToR for cluster coordinators, providing more specific guidance for cluster leadership at the field level, has helped demarcate responsibilities and improve accountability and efficiency.
The establishment of an HC Pool, including 27 individuals from a wide range of organizations, has made the selection of candidates for senior humanitarian posts, notably RC, RC/HC, HC and DHC positions, more transparent and participatory. The development of clearly defined Humanitarian Coordination Competencies and revisions of the HC ToR and the humanitarian section of the RC job description have clarified individual roles. As a result, IASC partners and donors now have clearer, more closely aligned expectations of how humanitarian leadership should function. The imminent publication of the Emergency Handbook for RCs and HCs will provide additional guidance, including a concise checklist of key actions to take in an emergency. The development and rollout of the ERC/HC Compact and the humanitarian section of the RC/HC/DO Performance Appraisal System have made appraisals more systematic, and provided an improved feedback loop between the ERC and HCs. OCHA’s engagement with UNDG and UNDOCO has brought better alignment between the RC system and the HC system.
Humanitarian leaders have been increasingly equipped with new skills and knowledge. Training was given to HCs and HC Pool members on using international legal frameworks for humanitarian advocacy, while RCs were trained on emergency preparedness, response and recovery.
Securing appropriate funding mechanisms to cover cluster coordination costs has been a key priority. The facilitation of a high-level meeting between donors and global cluster lead agencies (and preparatory work for a follow-up meeting in 2010) helped strengthen linkages and explain cluster coordination needs at global and field levels. Support has also been given to establishing an IASC Mainstreaming Task Team to support the mainstreaming of cluster responsibilities and costs in global cluster lead agencies’ budgets.
Work continued to strengthen the synergies between the humanitarian financing and resource mobilization tools, and reinforce coordination. As a result, coordination was included in the life-saving criteria for CERF, paving the way for humanitarian agencies to apply for CERF funding for coordination activities. The CAP, Flash Appeal and ERF guidelines were also updated to facilitate disbursement of funds for coordination projects. The IASC Humanitarian Financing Working Group was established to address issues regarding humanitarian pooled funds and broader humanitarian financing issues/trends, focusing inter alia on guidance and overall coordination to IASC/ad hoc subsidiary bodies on matters related to humanitarian financing.
At the country level, HCTs were established in nearly every HC country by the end of the year. OCHA began assessing the application of the newly agreed IASC guidelines, and worked to support improving field-level partnership. Cluster coordination mechanisms became increasingly integral to humanitarian response. They were set up or brought into use for all new major emergencies and for new crises within chronic emergencies during 2009. These included oPt, Pakistan, Samoa, Indonesia, the Philippines, El Salvador and Yemen. The cluster approach was formalized in Sri Lanka, Sudan, Niger and Timor Leste.
Inter-cluster support missions, led by OCHA and including representatives of various global cluster lead agencies, were sent to Sudan and Pakistan. OCHA surge support missions went to Sri Lanka and Afghanistan to reinforce cluster coordination at the field level. Modules on humanitarian action were developed for training field staff and surge rosters.
The Humanitarian Reform Tracking Tool aimed to provide a snapshot of the progress on the roll-out of clusters from a qualitative perspective and to identify in-country capacity gaps. The tool was discussed at the Global Cluster Lead Retreat in 2009. It was put on hold following concerns expressed by some global cluster lead agencies and the IASC Working Group’s decision to wait for the outcome of the Cluster Evaluation Phase II (due in March 2010). The tool will be reviewed in 2010 within the broader context of strengthening accountability structures and monitoring.
Participation in global workshops has helped contribute to the development of humanitarian policy, for example the Sphere Handbook Revision, with its focus on Minimum Standards in Disaster Response. OCHA also took part in preparatory work for the third meeting of the Global Humanitarian Platform (GHP) (postponed to early 2010), focusing on humanitarian space and humanitarian-military relationships. The GHP will also focus on a new business model for humanitarian action, particularly through greater support to local communities and local actors, but also including the continuum of activities from prevention, preparedness and response, right through to development. In particular, this will look at local capacity enhancement. The meeting will also maintain a focus and sense of accountability on the Principles of Partnership.
Challenges and Lessons Learned
The recruitment process for the HC Pool has been challenged by uneven involvement of IASC agencies in sponsoring candidates for the IASC HC Pool, and participating in the screening and interview panels. The busy schedules of RCs and HCs have prevented some from attending training events. OCHA will need to engage in high-level advocacy with IASC agencies, RCs and HCs to ensure a greater level of participation and input.
To strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of humanitarian response in new emergencies, it is critical to ensure that during the preparedness phase, work is done with all relevant partners, including government, RC and development actors, to raise awareness and understanding of the new global humanitarian architecture. This has been particularly challenging in contexts where there is limited experience of humanitarian action. In some cases, this inexperience has had a negative impact on the efficacy of the response. A priority for 2010 and beyond will be to continue building partners’ capacity, knowledge and understanding in non-humanitarian contexts regarding their roles and responsibilities in emergency response operations, and the tools and services that exist to support them.
OCHA will prioritize the development of operational guidance on inter-cluster coordination, specifically on OCHA’s responsibilities. Much needs to be done to clarify the role and functions of clusters in transition situations, as opposed to emergencies. There needs to be a more integrated approach to planning, preparedness and response at country level, identifying key challenges in advance and promoting actions that reduce vulnerability in the long term. The seamless transfer of coordination responsibilities to development partners depends on building strong partnerships beforehand between humanitarian and development actors and host governments.
It is clear that cluster leadership roles must be more closely defined. Cluster lead agencies should not be over-burdened and must be capable of guaranteeing the same level of engagement, leadership and resources across different clusters. Cluster lead agencies must also be capable of accomplishing the tasks assigned, and have sufficient knowledge, support and resources.
The achievements made at global level in terms of strengthening response capacity, building surge rosters and stockpiles, and developing appropriate guidance, standards and tools, must be mirrored at field level with the provision of targeted and adequate support for clusters.
While progress has been made in strengthening partnerships between United Nations and non-United Nations actors at the field level, effectively engaging and building the capacity of national NGOs and civil society has remained a challenge for all partners in humanitarian operations. The relationships built between partners in an international humanitarian response operation and their government counterparts who lead the response have often not been sufficiently systematic. A major focus for 2010 and beyond will be consolidating critical relationships with national partners, host governments and the hitherto neglected private sector.
Coordination in Integrated Missions
Dedicated OCHA capacity was established at Headquarters in 2008 to provide substantive support on integration. This was maintained in 2009. This capacity focused on global policy discussions and immediate operational challenges, allowing simultaneous progress on both. On the policy front, OCHA participated in developing the guidance package for the Integrated Mission Planning Process, which includes the strategic assessment, role of Headquarters and role of the field, to ensure that humanitarian concerns were incorporated. The strategic assessment and Headquarters planning notes were endorsed by the Secretary-General in May 2009, clarifying modalities, roles and responsibilities of the various actors supporting integrated United Nations presences. The guidance note on the role of the field was close to finalization at the end of 2009. The OCHA Policy Instruction on Structural Arrangements within Integrated United Nations Presences was also endorsed in May by the USG for Humanitarian Affairs. For the first time, the policy laid out the criteria OCHA uses to determine its recommendations on the structural arrangements between an HC, an OCHA office and a United Nations peacekeeping or political mission. The aim is to guide OCHA staff, but also to explain OCHA’s position to United Nations and non-United Nations partners. OCHA participated in all Headquarters integrated and integrated mission task forces, provided support to HCs and HCTs on operational integration issues, and participated in technical assessment missions to DRC and Guinea-Bissau, keeping humanitarian concerns at the forefront of discussions. In addition, OCHA was an active member of the Principal Level Integration Steering Group, ensuring that the integration agenda continued to respect humanitarian principles and operational realities.
1.3 — Strengthened OCHA emergency response capacity
OCHA was increasingly consistent and predictable in response to new emergencies in 2009, particularly in its mobilization and deployment of surge resources. Establishing OCHA-wide task forces served to combine surge capacity with other OCHA tools, thus improving management and decision-making in support of a more coordinated humanitarian response.
This approach ensured a smoother transition from UNDAC and INSARAG deployments in the first days of a response, to regional or Headquarters-based surge provision, to longer-term staffing requirements. It also allowed OCHA to respond better to simultaneous emergencies, notably the multiple disasters that struck the Asia and the Pacific region in the second half of the year.
The UNDAC and INSARAG systems continued to be among the most visible of OCHA’s tools and services in sudden-onset disaster response, particularly earthquakes and collapsed-structure disasters. UNDAC teams were deployed on 14 missions in 2009, of which 11 were to sudden-onset disasters. All teams were deployed within 48 hours of the request, with new and existing UNDAC members appropriately familiarized with the latest developments in humanitarian response/reform and training.
Regional Offices (ROs) serve as the first line of OCHA staff response, particularly in providing support in the early stages of natural emergencies. In 2009, ROs conducted 70 missions in response to emergencies around the world. The emergency response activities included deploying surge capacity, supporting the deployment of UNDAC response teams and leading trouble-shooting RDT missions to support the RC/HC in responding to a crisis. ROAP alone responded to seven simultaneous emergencies in Asia and the Pacific in September and October 2009, with a combination of surge capacity deployments and remote support to RCs/HCs and country teams.
Where demand exceeded RO capacity in replacement of short duration RO surge, Headquarters-based Emergency Response Roster (ERR) deployments were put in motion. In major emergencies, surge requests were based on the response strategies developed in OCHA-wide task forces.
Established in 2008, the ERR expanded its membership in 2009 and now includes humanitarian affairs officers (at levels ranging from P-2 to P-5), civil-military coordination officers, information management officers, information technology specialists, administration/finance officers and public information officers. The number of applicants to join the ERR increased during the last year, with over 100 applicants in the last rotation. Membership on each rotation has increased from 14 to 35.
The Stand-by Partnership Programme (SBPP) serves to complement OCHA’s surge capacity needs in humanitarian emergencies through seconding experts on mission by external partner organizations. These partners can often bolster OCHA’s capacity in new, complex emergencies where access may be restricted and where surge deployments are generally longer than for natural disasters. In 2009, they played a critical role in supporting coordination in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Sudan. OCHA also worked to improve the availability and quality of SBPP secondees in technical disciplines, particularly in the Civil-Military Coordination and Information Management domains.
This allowed for the rapid sourcing of experienced experts during the first two weeks of a crisis. A consultation event in November, along with bilateral conversations during 2009, enabled OCHA and SBPPs to examine opportunities and constraints in making the existing mechanism more responsive and professional, while also lending clarity to the differences in strategic vision between different partners. OCHA conducted two training courses for potential deployees from SBPP rosters. Work was also initiated on conceptualizing a new surge training for ERR members and other OCHA-internal surge providers (to be completed in 2010).
In 2009, two new surge mechanisms were developed and endorsed by OCHA management for roll-out in 2010: an Associates Surge Pool of consultants and retirees, for deployment at short notice to fill post-initial surge gaps for three to six months, before the arrival of regular staffing; and two full-time Roaming Emergency Surge Officers in the Humanitarian Affairs Officer and Administrative/Finance Officer domains. These mechanisms are expected to help fill the gap between short-term deployments and longer-term staffing solutions through regular recruitment.
Improved internal coordination between OCHA’s response mechanisms has increasingly eliminated staffing gaps. This has helped ensure a fast, effective response, with the RO surge or ERR deployments usually on site before UNDAC leaves. Over the course of the year, the practice of inserting UNDAC-trained OCHA members onto UNDAC teams became more frequent and ensured a smoother transition. UNDAC training courses served to ensure that succession planning and decisions were informed by clearer information and policy guidance. In 2009, this guidance included updated SBPP and ERR guidance material; an initial draft Policy Instruction on Surge Management; the development of an Easy Guide to Surge Management; and use of GANTT charts in emergencies. The latter is a visualization tool, representing deployment timelines, highlighting the sources of surge and facilitating improved management for sequencing/staggering deployments.
A key challenge to rapid UNDAC deployments was the delay in receiving a request from a disaster-affected Government and/or RC. This was often due to prolonged decision-making processes at the country level. When a request is received, UNDAC can deploy within 48 hours, but the request process may take two to three days, wasting valuable time. Working through its ROs and the Geneva-based Permanent Missions, OCHA is making an effort to inform governments on the procedures to follow when there is a disaster of international dimensions. OCHA is working with UNCTs to provide information on the UNDAC team’s role and the approach for requesting UNDAC assistance.
Post-crisis lesson-learning exercises have identified a number of key constraints that can hamper the rapid deployment of surge staffing. These include delays in the decision-making process in the field and at Headquarters. Efforts have been increased to avoid recurrent bottlenecks, including proposals to invoke expedited procedures in major crises that are likely to require a large, multi-faceted surge.
In addition, more efforts are needed to ensure that surge staff can be replaced by long-term OCHA staff in a timely manner, before the surge period ends.
Efforts will continue to harmonize and formalize (through policy papers) agreements across the organization, and with Stand-By Partners, concerning best practice in sequencing and coordinating the different surge mechanisms available to OCHA, including the two new mechanisms being launched in 2010.
The Equipment Reserve was established as part of improving OCHA’s response to sudden-onset disasters/emergencies by filling gaps in OCHA’s emergency response capacity. It became operational in June. This has made OCHA better equipped for deploying staff to the field during major disasters or emergencies. While the full deployment of the equipment was not warranted, parts of the Equipment Reserve, especially safety and telecommunications equipment, were deployed in humanitarian situations in Afghanistan, Chad, Pakistan, the Philippines and Sri Lanka. OCHA also finalized an agreement with WFP for the provision of vehicles. These measures allowed OCHA to cover urgent needs from its offices in the field and to bridge gaps created by regular procurement processes.
1.4 — Greater incorporation of disaster risk reduction approaches and strengthened preparedness in humanitarian response
OCHA continued working towards strengthening the response capacity of international, regional and national stakeholders. OCHA partnered with members of the IASC, UNDP, ISDR and regional organizations and networks in developing new initiatives to ensure a more systematic, inclusive and coordinated approach to incorporating disaster risk and strengthening preparedness for humanitarian response.
Recognizing the need for more clarity on disaster preparedness, OCHA decided to devote a full objective of its Strategic Framework for 2010-2013 to this issue. In 2009, OCHA began developing its internal policies and guidance, while working with partners, notably through the IASC Sub-Working Group (SWG) on Preparedness, to promote greater coherence across the humanitarian system, and in governments and regional organizations. OCHA advised countries on the tools and services available in emergencies, and how best to join relevant networks and build capacity within existing emergency management agencies. The importance of these networks was demonstrated during the Padang earthquake, where international and national search-and-rescue teams worked side by side, coordinated by an UNDAC team. Broadened disaster response networks were built around INSARAG and UNDAC, and included technical NGOs, the private sector and other actors. These networks provided common guidelines and methodologies, and shared experience, information and resources.
At the country level, the INSARAG International External Classification process classified international search-and-rescue teams according to their response capacity. This enabled disaster-affected countries to better assess and prioritize the type of assistance needed in collapsed-structure disasters. Three UNDAC Disaster Response Preparedness missions were deployed in response to requests from governments and RCs. The missions were staffed by UNDAC members with expertise in emergency services, and associates from United Nations agencies, donors and NGOs. They aimed to evaluate national disaster response preparedness plans in Cambodia, Peru and Papua New Guinea. Reports with recommendations and timelines for functional improvement were shared with stakeholders to help guide next steps in improving national disaster response preparedness.
OCHA strives to schedule three UNDAC Disaster Response Preparedness missions per year, providing no-cost support to countries in building up national disaster management systems and capabilities. Limited funding and human resources have reduced OCHA’s ability to meet fast-expanding demand. There is an obvious need for a coherent follow-up strategy for these missions. The Strategic Partnership for Preparedness, for now a pilot project, will involve the government, the United Nations Country Team and various partners engaged in preparedness activities before and after the actual assessment missions. The IASC SWG on Preparedness continued to foster inter-agency collaboration on issues related to early warning, contingency planning and preparedness.
Humanitarian civil-military cooperation featured strongly in OCHA’s disaster preparedness work. OCHA conducted training events on humanitarian civil-military cooperation in Africa, Central and South America, South-East Asia and Europe, with additional support to military staff colleges and peacekeeping training centres. OCHA helped establish closer ties between UNDAC and UN-CMCoord. OCHA organized pre-deployment training for UN-CMCoord officers en route to Afghanistan and Sudan, and participated in the pre-deployment training of military organizations sending troops to Afghanistan and Chad. The Asia-Pacific Conference on Military Assistance to Disaster Relief Operations, facilitated and co-chaired by OCHA, finalized draft regional guidelines to assist the planning of foreign military assistance in disaster response. These guidelines will be brought to the national decision-making level for endorsement at a final conference in October 2010.
There was also a strong focus on engaging with national governments and humanitarian stakeholders on the development of collaborative guidelines for disaster response. This included securing agreement on simplifying customs procedures in advance to speed up delivery of humanitarian assistance during a disaster. The use of a signed customs agreement as a quick clearing device proved effective in Nepal, where NGOs got quick access to relief items released from customs entry points by the Government in response to floods in October 2009.
The revised ToR for RCs clearly outline RCs’ responsibilities for inter-agency planning. OCHA now maintains a matrix that tracks inter-agency contingency planning in priority countries, including those in which OCHA does not have a country office. According to the Global Focus Model, which ranks countries based on levels of risk, vulnerability and capacity, all but four of the 60 countries identified in six regions now have inter-agency contingency plans in place. Forty-two of the same countries initiated, updated or revised contingency plans in 2009. In Haiti, revisions in August 2009 of the inter-agency contingency plans covering cluster activation in sudden-onset emergencies proved instrumental in ensuring that clusters were rapidly established to respond to humanitarian needs arising from the January 2010 earthquake. In some countries, sub-regional planning was successfully applied, for example in Guinea, where six other countries in the region participated. Two-day inter-agency simulations are increasingly being used to test contingency plans to ensure that they lead to improved response. Simulations have recently been organized in Guinea-Bissau, Mauritania, Iran, Papua New Guinea, Côte d’Ivoire, Uzbekistan, Benin/Togo, Nepal, Colombia and Tanzania.
Tackling pandemic preparedness, OCHA worked with the Humanitarians in Pandemics network and the Humanitarian Preparedness programme, among others, to support humanitarian organizations and countries requiring assistance. OCHA used its links with organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Tourism Organization to extend its reach. This type of work has significantly strengthened national and global capacities to respond to the H1N1 pandemic, and contributed towards the relatively modest impact of H1N1.
OCHA continues to be one of the principal agencies in the Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI), whose materials include online capacity assessment tools and a toolkit for conducting capacity assessment of national disaster management organizations. CADRI held workshops in Jamaica, Kenya and Europe to advance disaster risk reduction at national and regional levels.
OCHA made extensive use of public information campaigns and media initiatives to highlight the importance of preparedness and disaster risk reduction as crucial elements of climate change adaptation. It collaborated with WMO, ISDR and other agencies, and worked with the IASC Task Force on Climate Change before and during the Copenhagen Summit in December 2009.
1.5 — A strategy contributing to seamless transition and early recovery
In 2009, OCHA made significant progress in planning for a more systematic approach to phasing down and closing OCHA country offices. There was a careful analysis of country offices in countries where the focus of response is shifting from humanitarian to longer-term recovery and development. In each case, a decision on OCHA’s future was taken by the USG.
Drawing down a country office is an elaborate process. It takes several years and requires careful planning and consultation with key partners, including government counterparts, the RC/HC, UNDOCO and UNDP BCPR.
For each transition country, and for those where the humanitarian situation is expected to improve or change, the strategy now includes an approach to handing over substantive programming to local counterparts, including preparedness for response and coordination functions for the residual humanitarian caseload. At the operational level, OCHA has developed and begun applying practical guidelines to support transition planning, phase down and exit. These guidelines include making appropriate administrative and financial arrangements and archiving. The key principles for an OCHA draw-down have become institutionalized and are being codified in a policy instruction.
In 2009, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger, Uganda, Indonesia, Myanmar and Nepal were identified as being in transition. Planning for their phase-down began in the middle of the year. In addition to engaging with Headquarters counterparts, planning was carried out at the country level with RCs/HCs, HCTs and relevant government counterparts. The decisions on transition shaped the work of the country offices in 2010, where OCHA began to discontinue certain activities or hand them over to other agencies. Draw-down will be regularly reviewed to take into account any significant change in the humanitarian situation. In cases where there is still an obvious requirement for humanitarian coordination, OCHA may decide to downgrade from a full country office to a smaller support structure to respond to residual humanitarian needs, maintaining the possibility of scaling up again should the situation deteriorate in the country. These Humanitarian Support Units will be established within an RC’s office with support from OCHA’s regional offices. The offices in the transition countries are expected to be closed at the end of 2011, with a smaller number to follow in 2012.
OCHA had intended to phase down in two other countries. However, in Niger, given the significant deterioration of the humanitarian situation, OCHA decided to maintain a full office in the country. In Myanmar, attention shifted from the Delta region, where recovery is in full swing, to other parts of the country where there was a need for humanitarian coordination in mid-2009.
At the global level, OCHA contributed to the Secretary-General’s report, “Peacebuilding in the Immediate Aftermath of Conflict”, which was submitted to the Security Council at the end of May. The report recognized that the costs of the inability to secure post-conflict environments are significant: protracted displacement, chronic disease, renewed violence and, potentially, full-scale war. In such situations, OCHA and its humanitarian partners are compelled to remain in situations longer, to maintain high levels of staff and to direct resources toward short-term solutions that delay national capacity-building and long-term development.
The report represents a point of departure, outlining a bold vision for an international peacebuilding system, to be developed over the next five to 10 years. The principal elements here are achieving global consensus on key peacebuilding areas, prioritizing leadership, coordination and accountability, and developing common strategies around which the international system can rally. With UNDOCO, OCHA also continued to co-chair the UNDG-ECHA Working Group on Transition (WGT). In 2009, the group focused on tackling capacity and strategy gaps in transition countries, including through the development of a minimum standard support package. OCHA in particular led an initiative aimed at streamlining the method of communication among WGT members to ensure a broader and consistent representation of the transition perspective in the Integrated Mission Planning Process, Integrated Missions Task Forces, Peacebuilding Support Office, and Secretary-General’s Policy Committee processes.
OCHA has been working through the humanitarian IASC to improve training, preparation and support for HCs, most of whom are still active during the post-conflict phase. It has also been requested that HCs be involved in the early, field-level strategic planning exercises that encompass all United Nations security, political and development activities. OCHA is also working with United Nations development agencies and coordination bodies to strengthen RC leadership. RC offices need substantial additional capacity and funding at an early stage if they are to take over coordination functions when the HC role ends. OCHA will look to work closely with UNDP to identify potential opportunities within a crisis situation where early recovery assistance can be provided to complement humanitarian aid.
OCHA has recognized that it must work strategically with development partners to address the funding gap for early recovery and transition. Studies commissioned in 2009 went some way to addressing these issues, indicating that elements of early recovery are embedded in most humanitarian projects, but noting that the funding provided falls short of requirements. In a context where humanitarian funding generally is insufficient relative to needs, development funding should fill early recovery gaps. Regarding broader financial support for transition, guidelines on using humanitarian funding mechanisms to reinforce early and longer-term recovery were developed in early 2009. Further guidance on strategic planning and funding tools were drafted with the WGT, while work continued with the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development/ Development Assistance Committee’s International Network on Conflict and Fragility Task Team on Aid Architecture and Financing to develop a transition strategy for donors.