From Fiji, OCHA Pacific supports partners in 14 Pacific Island countries (PICs): Fiji, the Cook Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, Kiribati, Nauru, Niue, Palau, Marshall Islands, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu.
The Pacific Islands are part of a region characterized by a high degree of disaster risk and isolation. In the past years they have been exposed to a variety of sudden-onset crises: floods, cyclones, king tides, volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, tsunamis, civil unrest and political instability. Humanitarian assistance in the Pacific has proven extremely complex.
In 2011, the PHT responded to two tropical cyclones and two droughts. Partnerships with national authorities and regional partners were strengthened as the PHT facilitated inter-agency contingency-planning exercises.
OCHA and the PHT clusters responded to two tropical cyclones in Vanuatu and supported the Government in developing a humanitarian action plan. The plan drew heavily on the PHT’s approach, and it highlighted sectoral strategies and funding gaps for the first time in a Vanuatu emergency. The newly formed Vanuatu Humanitarian Team has already enhanced preparedness and reduced Vanuatu’s reliance on regional assistance in the 2011-2012 cyclone season.
Strong liaison with the IASC continued, with the PHT looking to ensure that it’s preparedness efforts and cluster initiatives meet IASC standards. The PHT kept the IASC fully informed on the agreed coordination set up in the Pacific, which is important for the future management of emergencies that may require global cluster support.
The continued influence of La Niña weather patterns over three years resulted in severe water shortages in Kiribati and Tuvalu in 2011. In Kiribati, drought conditions were detected early and a coordinated response was established. This was due to OCHA Pacific’s information management capacity and partnerships with SPC, regional meteorological services, UNICEF and WHO.
In Tuvalu, OCHA provided assessment-and-coordination guidance. Strong collaboration on the analysis of seasonal rainfall patterns, rainfall-catchment capacity and household consumption helped a better targeted humanitarian response.
Backed by GenCap and UN Women Pacific, OCHA Pacific has pushed for a gender-sensitive and inclusive humanitarian approach. The introduction of a Gender Surge Roster in 2011 has enabled OCHA to employ gender and protection specialists to improve gender and vulnerability analysis, facilitate Government and NGO gender networks in disaster-affected countries, and ensure that gender-specific needs are kept firmly on the agenda in humanitarian decision-making and action.
In 2012, OCHA Pacific’s approach to humanitarian action will include highlighting gender issues, improving information management, strengthening needs assessments and tightening coordination. This will be carried out in target countries, namely Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji. At the regional level, the emphasis will continue to be on engaging regional clusters on preparedness.
Additional GIS capacity in OCHA will improve services to governments and PHT partners in the Pacific. An anticipated Coordinated Assessments Pool And Roster (CASPAR) deployment will support national efforts to build coordinated needs-assessment capacity in at least two PICs.