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Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA)

Highlights

  • Led missions deployed by the RDT to support humanitarian action in Madagascar and Angola.
  • Assisted UNCTs in Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Madagascar with response to disasters (floods, earthquakes, cyclones and drought).
  • Coordinated the regional response to the 2008-2009 cholera outbreak in collaboration with the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat, WHO, UNICEF and NGO partners.
  • Assisted SADC Member States with preparedness, including updating contingency plans and organizing the annual Emergency Preparedness Workshop for Southern Africa.
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ROSA faced a series of coordination challenges in 2009. Despite the strengthened capacity of SADC, support to Member States in preparedness and response could be further improved. In some cases, the lack of legislative and institutional frameworks to facilitate response coordination and contingency planning equated to limited resources available for preparedness at country and regional level. The lack of IM systems in some countries meant comprehensive contingency planning suffered from a deficit of information on vulnerability and risks.

Responding to a range of challenges, ROSA led RDT missions to Madagascar and Angola, and assisted UNCTs in Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Madagascar in responding to sudden-onset disasters. The crises ranged from the simultaneous expulsion of Angolan nationals from DRC and Congolese nationals from Angola, to flooding in Namibia and cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia and South Africa. OCHA helped coordinate cholera response operations in partnership with the SADC Secretariat, WHO, UNICEF and NGOs. As most of the countries developed national contingency plans, this made subsequent operations easier.

ROSA deployed a wide range of humanitarian experts in disaster preparedness, humanitarian response and coordination in support of HCTs, SADC Member States and other humanitarian partners. OCHA support to humanitarian partners in the region included IM services such as mapping, development of a web-based data repository and targeted support to the Seychelles on IM. ROSA also continued to support the organization of the annual SADC Emergency Preparedness Workshop for Southern Africa, and assisted in updating multi-hazard contingency plans in all SADC Member States, in line with IASC guidelines.

ROSA continued to strongly support humanitarian reform in 2009. ROSA facilitated a regional workshop on humanitarian reform and financing for RCs and humanitarian partners, focusing on implementing the cluster approach in future emergencies. The workshop also provided the RDT and Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Support Office partners with valuable guidance on how to better support country-level preparedness and response.

On humanitarian financing, ROSA provided assistance to UNCTs in Swaziland and Madagascar regarding access to CERF funding through improved proposals based on life-saving criteria.

Key lessons from the humanitarian reform still need to be addressed in the region. They include better aligning clusters with existing Government coordination mechanisms, and stronger partnerships with the media and the private sector. While HCTs operating under the Principles of Partnership are in place in most countries, more inclusiveness is still required.

OCHA has systematically ensured that gender issues are incorporated into contingency plans and in multi-sector rapid assessments.

Humanitarian Support Unit: Madagascar

Given Madagascar’s vulnerability to floods, cyclones and drought, as well as its fragile socio-political situation, OCHA has positioned staff in the RC’s office since 2004 to support humanitarian coordination. Over the years, this has expanded to include early recovery coordination support, cost-shared with the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR). This was due to be phased out at the end of March 2009. However, the ongoing political crisis and a worsening drought in southern Madagascar in 2009 created the need to reintroduce a HSU. This has proved instrumental in supporting humanitarian coordination, resource mobilization, support to IM, and to preparedness efforts for response, mainly to cyclones and drought in 2009.