A fully operational OCHA office was established in Somalia in 2003. However, OCHA’s presence in the country dates back to 1999. Since then, its coordination role has grown in relevance and size as the humanitarian situation has developed in Somalia. OCHA has responded to drought, floods, famine, chronic food insecurity and environmental degradation, all of which have been adversely affected by a 20-year civil war that displaced millions of people and destroyed governance in most parts of the country. OCHA Somalia’s key focus has been to mobilize and coordinate an effective and principled inter-agency humanitarian response. Security concerns over the last three years have challenged internal and national staff who have been unable to travel to south and central regions, and in some cases have had to leave their areas of responsibility. Under these circumstances, coordination was carried out remotely, either through Nairobi or other towns in Somalia.
By mid-2011, access had improved in central and south Somalia. This made permanent national and international presence possible in regions that previously were off limits. The OCHA office has since expanded its in-country presence beyond the previous sub-offices of Hargeisa, Garowe, Bossaso and Galkayo, to include an internationally staffed Mogadishu office. Efforts are also underway to establish national staff outreach offices in Dhobley, El Waq, Dollow, Abudwaq and Belet Hawa. Recruitment for national staff focuses on individuals familiar with regional humanitarian issues.
Key OCHA functions in these newly established areas are to:
(i) Support the establishment of clusters.
(ii) Manage the inter-cluster working group.
(iii) Provide overall coordination.
(iv) Develop information management products in support of response efforts.
The RC/HC represents humanitarian interests and concerns in the Senior Policy Group, comprised of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General, the RC/HC and the Chief of the United Nations Support Office for AMISOM (UNSOA). As a member of the Joint Planning Unit, OCHA represents humanitarian interests and concerns. OCHA is also a member of the relevant ISF working groups.
The limitations of current operations are linked to physical restrictions in Somalia. OCHA and its humanitarian partners must increase their presence in Somalia. Immediate steps toward this result should follow the twin tracks of:
Establishing and strengthening presence in all locations where conditions allow.
Undertaking analytical research to identify individuals who can enable and facilitate access negotiations with those movements unwilling to engage in discussion with the humanitarian community.
From 2012-2013, OCHA intends to move the entire Country Office into Somalia. This will include reinforcing the Mogadishu sub-office to accommodate its shift from Nairobi. OCHA will also establish a presence in newly accessible areas of southern Somalia, and will set up a new sub-office in Dollo to serve the Gedo region and neighbouring Bakool and Bay regions. OCHA will also strengthen coordination for the Jubas. If the security situation remains unstable in Dhobley, the staff member may need to rotate between Nairobi, Dadaab and Liboi. The Mogadishu office will initially serve Banadir and the Shabelles. Galkayo will serve southern Mudug, Galmudug and Hiraan. OCHA’s presence in Puntland and Somaliland will be strengthened to provide a full suite of services and to work with regional authorities on disaster risk management and risk reduction. OCHA will establish a Humanitarian Diplomacy Support Unit to map stakeholders who influence access and to identify individuals with whom they have leverage.
OCHA will continue to participate in the integrated coordination mechanisms to ensure effective information flow between the various UN entities and to ensure appropriate attention to humanitarian concerns. Particular attention will be devoted to security issues in Mogadishu for appropriate engagement with AMISOM and TFG.
Coordination: The shift of the OCHA office to Mogadishu will enable greater efficacy of coordination with TFG and the actors present there. Increased field presence and delegation of authority to capable heads of sub-offices will enable leadership and decision-making to take place at the field level through regional Inter-Cluster Working Groups. The Access Support Unit will create enhanced opportunities for new areas of negotiation and increased access.
Reporting and Advocacy: The accuracy of field reporting will improve as OCHA will be closer to events as they unfold. The accuracy of information provided will enhance the ability to advocate issues with authority, confidence and credibility, both through field presence and the analysis of the Access Support Unit.
Information Management: The increase in field presence, along with the stationing of an IMO in each hub, will enhance OCHA’s ability to capture and analyse information, and to generate information products at the regional level to facilitate better response.
Financial Coordination and Resource Mobilization: The Funding Coordination/CHF Unit will be one of the last units to move to Mogadishu in its entirety. In the interim, additional field visits and training conducted by unit members will improve the understanding and engagement of LNGOs in the CAP and CHF systems. In Nairobi, the Head of Unit will engage with donors to encourage their contributions during this time of transition and increased expenditure.