ROSA coordinates international and regional efforts to assist countries to:
1) Be better prepared to respond to disasters.
2) Respond in a timely, effective and principled manner when disasters strike.
3) Create an enabling environment for humanitarian action by assisting regional actors and governmental bodies to identify gaps in regional disaster risk reduction strategies, particularly in response preparedness, and to coordinate international action to address these at the national level.
ROSA is asked to provide in-country coordination, information management and resource mobilization in nearly all disasters in the region. It is also frequently asked to provide technical advice and guidance to middle-income countries that possess stronger disaster management policies, structures and capacities, but which are seeking to further strengthen these in line with international norms and standards. Such countries also seek OCHA’s assistance in dealing with new emerging threats and approaches to address these.
Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction
Since 2007, ROSA has rolled out a minimum-preparedness package in collaboration with SADC, its Member States and international cooperating partners. Significant progress has been made in implementing these measures, leading to improved early warning, faster response times and greater coordination in regional emergencies. ROSA has lobbied the relevant mandate holders to fulfil their broader regional role on longer-term risk reduction measures beyond Priority 5 of the Hyogo Framework for Action, which focuses on emergency preparedness and response. In 2011, SADC, in collaboration with the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction and ROSA, launched a regional disaster risk reduction platform. The platform will act as a vertical interface between existing national platforms, and a horizontal interface between relevant regional humanitarian and development actors. It will also promote and advocate DRR implementation at national and sub-national levels in the region and provide a forum for resource mobilization to address DRR funding gaps.
Regional Information Management Activities
Building the capacity of national disaster managers and the SADC secretariat in emergency preparedness and response is central to ROSA’s work in the region. This entails targeted missions to priority countries to help them assess their IM needs and develop a plan to address gaps. OCHA continues to work with SADC and its Member States to develop common tools for regional use, including a common rapid-assessment tool, standard indicators for the national vulnerability assessment and a common risk analysis model. It is also assisting SADC in developing a high-level IM strategy for Emergency Preparedness and Response, which will inform national-level strategies.
In 2010, ROSA and international partners advocated with SADC for improvements in its regional emergency preparedness and response coordination role, leading to technical assistance in operationalizing the SADC DRR Unit and support in the implementation of its DRR strategic plan. Under OCHA’s leadership, the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Support Office (RIACSO), also recently mobilized partners to support a comprehensive study with five southern African academic institutions. The aim was to increase understanding of potential humanitarian threats and trends and their impact in the region. It acknowledges that global challenges are contributing to increased vulnerability and humanitarian needs. These challenges include the effects of climate change, environmental degradation, food- and energy-price spikes, macroeconomic trends, irregular migration, rapid population growth and demographic changes and urbanization. Consequently, the study is expected to be the basis of a more nuanced and comprehensive regional strategy for humanitarian and development partners to better anticipate and respond to these challenges in the future.
Support to Regional Networks
OCHA leverages its IASC regional coordination role to help the SADC secretariat support its Member States in emergency preparedness and response. These activities include:
1) Developing common tools, policies, strategies and standards for region-wide application and use.
2) Supporting SADC in developing regional hazard scenarios and impacts, as well as facilitating national and cross-border planning.
3) Encouraging the sharing of best practices and lessons learned between SADC Member States.
4) Advocating with SADC Member States for implementing and providing training on Minimum Preparedness Actions.
5) Assessing Humanitarian Country Team capacities to address these challenges and coordinating regional-level support to jointly agreed priority countries, in cooperation with IASC partners.
ROSA also plays a key role in the UN Regional Director’s Team (RDT) in advocating senior attention to humanitarian issues. Through the RDT, OCHA also participates in the development of national UN Development Assistance Frameworks to ensure that humanitarian risk analysis informs development strategies.
Operational and Administrative Support to HSU and OCHA Country Offices
Since 2007, OCHA has managed a Humanitarian Support Unit (HSU) in Madagascar. Despite the withdrawal of all direct donor budgetary support to the Government since the 2009 coup, the UN and its partners continue operations to guarantee the provision of aid to population vulnerable to floods, cyclones and drought. The HSU consists of a dedicated remote support capacity to Madagascar, and a national humanitarian focal point in the RC's Office who is currently cost-shared by UN agencies.
ROSA also routinely coordinates with the OCHA Country Office and other actors in Zimbabwe on contingency planning for population flows between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
ROSA will continue to perform its core functions and emphasize the following topics in 2012-2013:
Increasing the quality of preparedness planning across southern Africa
This will be achieved by applying a new and comprehensive methodology for implementing a minimum-preparedness package in all countries to ensure consistency and high quality. Priorities for roll-out in the region have been grouped according to the highest risk, alongside progress made in-country on preparedness and the commitment from the Government and its international partners to proceed.
In 2012, the roll out of this package will be finalized in Lesotho, Namibia and Malawi, and initiated in Mozambique and Angola.
In 2013, the package will be introduced in the Comoros, Zambia and Swaziland.
By end 2013, the package is expected to be completed in nine of the 13 southern African countries, with Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles and South Africa outstanding.
Ensuring that more national contingency plans are tested in simulations
Given the high cost of full-field simulations, OCHA will advocate and support the implementation of functional simulations in all countries, and of targeted skill drills, particularly in information management.
In 2012, functional simulations will be held in Mozambique, Angola, Namibia, Comoros and the Seychelles. IM skill drills will be conducted in Mozambique, Angola, Lesotho, Malawi and Namibia.
In 2013, functional simulations and information management skill drills will be conducted in Zambia and Swaziland.
Ensuring that its contributions to regional- and national-level preparedness and response are sustained. It will do this by:
Assisting SADC and its Member States to develop their rapid-response capacities. In 2012, the mechanism is to be agreed by all partners and funding secured. The mechanism is expected to be functioning by the end of 2013.
Providing guidance for trainers for Government and international responders on the minimum-preparedness methodology to create additional regional-response preparedness capacities. The methodology will be completed in 2012 and training conducted in 2013.
Providing guidance for trainers in conducting functional simulations. In 2012, training will be held for IASC partners and in 2013 for southern African governments.
Providing training in 2013 for international responders on urban contingency planning.
Encouraging southern African governments to become part of the global INSARAG and UNDAC networks to help build capacity and preparedness for response. In 2012, a full UNDAC induction course will be held in southern Africa to secure at least four new southern Africa responders on the UNDAC roster. Another two will be targeted to join in 2013.
Ensuring that humanitarian capacities, programmes and presence in southern Africa are informed by a deeper understanding of risk
Rolling out standardized risk assessment tools through SADC will allow for a comprehensive and comparable analysis of risk across the region. This will set a solid platform for a deeper understanding of risk and therefore enable better targeted programming. This will be done through collecting and constantly updating common vulnerability indicators, and rolling out a risk analysis model. The tools will be streamlined in existing coordination mechanisms to enable sustainability. To ensure that the right information that complements the risk tool is collected after sudden-onset disasters, a standard rapid-assessment tool for the region was developed. It will be rolled out in the region.
The HSU in Madagascar will support the RC/HCT, the Bureau National de Gestion des Risques et des Catastrophes (National Office for Risk and Disaster Management) and humanitarian partners to strengthen monitoring and surveillance mechanisms in critical areas. It will help to improve the existing early warning system, establish much-needed baseline databases, and strengthen national capacities in information management for preparedness and emergency response.
Managing an inter-agency study (cost-shared by OCHA, WFP, UNICEF, FAO, Oxfam, IFRC, IOM, and five African academic institutions) to analyse humanitarian trends in southern Africa over the next five years. This will help RIACSO to make decisions on planning, programming and presence in the region. It will act as a case study in the global IASC humanitarian challenges report, managed by PDSB.