In 2009, demands for humanitarian response to natural disasters and complex emergencies, as well as strengthened humanitarian coordination, grew rapidly in the Philippines.
Throughout 2009, OCHA played a key role in ensuring improved humanitarian coordination in the conflict-affected southern island group of Mindanao, where up to 430,000 people have been displaced by fighting between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and armed opposition groups. With OCHA support, humanitarian actors in Mindanao developed a contingency plan and joint advocacy strategies to address protection concerns. OCHA also helped strengthen IM and facilitated joint resource mobilization, including a CERF request for Mindanao.
In addition to the conflict, a series of devastating cyclones affected large parts of the Visayas and Luzon island groups in September 2009. OCHA bolstered its capacity through surge deployments. These deployments included two full UNDAC teams and OCHA staff sent from ROAP and Headquarters. Shortly after the typhoons struck, a decision was reached to designate an HC for the country. In support of the HC, OCHA ensured improved reporting and IM, as well as effective cluster coordination. With OCHA support, the HCT prepared and revised a Flash Appeal as well as a CERF request. An Inter-Agency Real Time Evaluation of the typhoon response noted, in particular, that OCHA’s National Disaster Response Adviser was crucial in providing an interface between the Government and the international humanitarian community throughout the response.
Following the launch of the 2009 Philippines Flash Appeal, OCHA opened a Country Office in October 2009. Initial staffing was ensured through internal and external surge mechanisms while long-term recruitment was under way.