OCHA began rolling out a newly agreed Minimum Preparedness Package on ensuring a global standard for timely and effective disaster response by governments and HCTs.
- OCHA supported the IASC Sub-Working Group on Preparedness in developing best practice and common approaches in Ghana, Uganda, Nepal, Haiti and the Philippines.
In recent years, global trends have highlighted the need for a greater emphasis on prevention and preparedness, and Member State resolutions have repeatedly called for increased UN capacity-building to support governments in emergency preparedness and response.
However, there was an urgent need for more clarity on how this support was being provided and coordinated within the UN and among its partners. Internally, OCHA’s preparedness role was not well defined, and inconsistent support was being provided in the field, largely through regional offices. Therefore, in 2010 and 2011 OCHA worked to clarify and communicate its role in accordance with its mandate; consolidate its support to countries and their international partners in disaster preparedness; and lead high-level dialogue among international actors to clarify roles and responsibilities regarding international response readiness.
OCHA’s Policy Instruction on Preparedness, adopted in August 2010, underlines the need to build OCHA’s institutional preparedness for crisis situations, as well as its central role in supporting international readiness for emergency response. The policy also makes clear that OCHA’s capacity-building role regarding governments consists of strengthening governments’ capacity to deal with international humanitarian assistance. The policy also encourages partnerships with key agencies involved in national capacity development and disaster risk reduction, particularly UNDP and ISDR, to create a more systematic and consistent approach to international efforts to build national capacities.
Reacting to the new policy priorities, OCHA field offices continued to assist governments and their international partners in strengthening country and regional response capabilities. In September 2011, regional offices agreed on a set of best practices for a Minimum Preparedness Package of support actions tailored to the needs of disaster-prone countries. It covers the essential measures needed to ensure sound and effective risk analysis, contingency planning, information management, resource mobilization coordination mechanisms and structures, and institutional and legislative frameworks. All OCHA regional offices now use this package as the basis for preparedness advocacy with government and IASC actors at regional and national levels.
OCHA’s focus has gone beyond the short term. It continues to facilitate partnerships with key agencies involved in longer-term institutional strengthening and disaster risk reduction beyond Hyogo Framework Priority Five, which deals with emergency preparedness and response. For example, in southern Africa, an OCHA-facilitated process of annual planning consultations between Southern Africa Development Community disaster managers and their international cooperating partners has evolved into a broader risk reduction platform, with support from UNDP and ISDR. Emergency preparedness and response will remain critical components of this platform, but in a context of broader partnerships focusing on prevention and mitigation.
Working with inter-agency partners, OCHA engaged in a country-level pilot initiative aimed at building national preparedness capacity in Ghana, Uganda, Nepal, Haiti and the Philippines. OCHA’s regional offices had been working with partners on similar initiatives, but this was the first attempt to develop a standard methodology for inter-agency preparedness support to Member States. The lessons from this cooperation are expected to support OCHA’s efforts to ensure more coordinated and coherent support for preparedness from relevant international development and humanitarian partners.
Through UNDAC disaster response preparedness missions, OCHA helped to increase the ability of vulnerable Member States to respond to disasters. Missions to El Salvador and Sri Lanka used the expertise of UNDAC members from the region, alongside OCHA staff, and provided strong recommendations to national authorities. The INSARAG External Classification methodology was also developed and rolled out in 2011. It prepares international USAR teams to respond using international standards and guidelines. To date, 27 teams have been classified, contributing to a more predictable response for collapsed-building disasters.
OCHA continued to work for better inter-agency coordination at the global level, looking for a clearer demarcation of roles, responsibilities and accountability within the wider system regarding response preparedness. The IASC’s Transformative Agenda was a key reference point for a high-level dialogue on preparedness roles, particularly within the preparedness discussion co-led by UNDP and the World Bank on building national capacities for preparedness. In 2012, OCHA will work with the IASC Sub-Working Group on Preparedness, and with ISDR, to ensure that different initiatives complement each other. These initiatives include the Strategic Partnership for Preparedness, UNDAC disaster response preparedness missions and CADRI-led disaster risk reduction initiatives.
- Objective 1.1 - Member States and Regional Organizations
- Objective 1.2 - Operational Partners
- Objective 1.3 - Preparedness
- Objective 1.4 - Analysis and System-Wide Learning
- Objective 2.1 - Accountable Humanitarian Coordination Leaders
- Objective 2.2 - Scaling Up and Drawing Down Operations
- Objective 2.3 - Tools and Services
- Objective 2.4 - The Humanitarian Programme Cycle
- Objective 3.1 - Funding and Financial Management
- Objective 3.2 - Surge and Staffing Solutions
- Objective 3.3 - Organizational Learning for Results