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ADVOCACY AND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT

 
 
Advocacy and Information Management Branch
 
 
Advocacy Section
 
 
Information Analysis Section
 
 
   
Early Warning Unit  
 
   
ReliefWeb Project  
 
   
Field Information Support Section (Project)  
 
   
Field Information Management Project  
 
Information and Communications Technology Section
 

 

Information Analysis Section


INFORMATION ANALYSIS SECTION
Planned Staffing Regular Budget Extra-budgetary Projects Total
Professional
1
4
-
5
General Service
1
3
-
4
Total
2
7
-
9
Staff costs (US$)
237,096
924,887
-
1,161,983
Non-staff costs (US$)
8,000
168,935
-
176,935
Total costs (US$)
245,096
1,093,822
-
1,338,918
Total requested (US$)
 
 
 
1,093,822

Information analysis supports sound humanitarian decision making and in OCHA information analysis is dependent upon information that meets the highest quality standards. Quality information in the coordination context means insisting on the timeliness, accuracy and inclusiveness of data. This is crucial, since events rapidly evolve during an emergency, needs must be assessed in time to save lives and information on the activities of humanitarian actors must be shared in order to plan an effective response.

OCHA's Information Analysis Section (IAS) seeks to ensure that information products and services meet humanitarian decision making needs both at headquarters and in the field—whether undertaking analysis for early warning to become effective early action or collecting and disseminating information from all actors involved in a humanitarian response. Within the IAS, OCHA's ReliefWeb Project, Field Information Support Services and Early Warning Unit each deliver key information services and products that support the continuum of humanitarian information needs of the international community from early warning, prevention and preparedness, to response at the global level and the field level.

In 2006, OCHA will review the effectiveness and performance of these information services and tools and assess how to further integrate and maximise the usefulness of these mechanisms with other OCHA information tools such as the financial tracking system, the global disaster assessment and coordination system, IRIN and OCHA Online. Evaluation of available information content and analysis to meet user needs will be a key component as will the effectiveness of the information systems in integrating content between these tools to ensure maximum accessibility to all humanitarian audiences.


Early Warning Unit

The Early Warning Unit is responsible for improving OCHA’s capacity to identify potential crises. In 2005, the Unit produced analyses/alerts, in close collaboration with field partners, and refined its methodology to include a greater humanitarian orientation. It also worked closely with partners to translate early warning analysis into concrete action to prevent, mitigate and prepare for crises and disasters.

In 2006, the Unit will continue to produce and disseminate early warning analysis on emerging crises to key partners and decision-makers in OCHA and the broader UN and humanitarian community. In 2006, the Unit will intensify its efforts to translate early warning into early preparedness for crises both within OCHA and with IASC partners. The Unit will build on efforts being devoted to the development of standardized preparedness action checklists which are automatically activated as the situation in a specific country/region deteriorates.

In 2006, the Unit also will seek to engage UN country teams more in the early warning – early action process by facilitating inter-agency mitigation and preparedness missions, improving mechanisms for information exchange for early warning and preparedness and sensitizing partners to the early warning methodology developed by the Unit.

The Unit will also continue to review at risk countries with the Inter-Departmental Framework for Coordination on Early Warning and Preventive Action (Framework Team) to ensure that the humanitarian perspective is reflected in system-wide strategies to mitigate and prevent conflict.

Activities:

  • Continue the global early warning monitoring service and produce up to ten early warning analyses on emerging crises after close consultation with CRD, country offices, regional offices, IRIN and UN country teams.
  • In collaboration with other parts of OCHA, develop OCHA-specific minimum preparedness actions that are systematically linked to early warning analyses.
  • Produce a consolidated risk matrix and recommend actions for the IASC’s quarterly early warning – early action report through increased engagement with OCHA field offices.
  • Represent OCHA at working level on the Framework Team in collaboration with CRD.
  • Sensitise key internal and external stakeholders to OCHA’s early warning methodology for projecting future scenarios.
  • Facilitate and/or participate in inter-agency early warning, mitigation and preparedness missions to countries/regions of concern.

Indicators:

  • Number of new emergencies where OCHA undertook preparedness, contingency planning and response actions based on advice by the unit.
  • Number of OCHA field offices and UN Country Teams using the Unit’s early warning methodology to conduct analysis.
  • Number and percent of new emergencies where action was anticipated by the UN system.


ReliefWeb Project


RELIEFWEB PROJECT
Planned Staffing Regular Budget Extra-budgetary Projects Total
Professional
-
-
7
7
General Service
-
-
3
3
Total
-
-
10
10
Staff costs (US$)
-
-
1,744,989
1,744,989
Non-staff costs (US$)
-
-
446,689
446,689
Total costs (US$)
-
-
2,191,678
2,191,678
RW Tech. Inf. Upgrade Project
 
 
500,000
500,000
Total requested (US$)
 
 
 
2,691,678

NEW YORK
Planned Staffing Regular Budget Extra-budgetary Projects Total
Professional
-
-
3
3
General Service
-
-
-
-
Total
-
-
3
3
Staff costs (US$)
-
-
433,011
433,011
Non-staff costs (US$)
-
-
181,930
181,930
Total costs (US$)
-
-
614,941
614,941
Total requested (US$)
 
 
 
614,941

GENEVA
Planned Staffing Regular Budget Extra-budgetary Projects Total
Professional
-
-
3
3
General Service
-
-
2
2
Total
-
-
5
5
Staff costs (US$)
-
-
963,580
963,580
Non-staff costs (US$)
-
-
164,302
164,302
Total costs (US$)
-
-
1,127,882
1,127,882
Total requested (US$)
 
 
 
1,127,882

KOBE
Planned Staffing Regular Budget Extra-budgetary Projects Total
Professional
-
-
1
1
General Service
-
-
1
1
Total
-
-
2
2
Staff costs (US$)
-
-
348,398
348,398
Non-staff costs (US$)
-
-
100,457
100,457
Total costs (US$)
-
-
448,855
448,855
Total requested (US$)
 
 
 
448,855

ReliefWeb (www.reliefweb.int) is the world’s leading online gateway to information on humanitarian emergencies and disasters. Providing relevant and reliable information on humanitarian needs and the response activities of the international community, ReliefWeb also emphasizes coverage of neglected emergencies to raise greater awareness of them.

On average, OCHA’s ReliefWeb receives up to 4.5 million hits each week and is viewed by up to 400,000 individual users per month, with up to 2 million page views per month. Updated around the clock from Geneva, New York and Kobe, the time-critical publication of information on evolving emergencies helps to strengthen delivery of response to affected populations.

Over 150 new documents and maps are posted daily from among more than 2,500 sources. These are viewed online or received via email by some 80,000 subscribers. Advanced search, navigation and filtering tools help combat information overload, allowing users a high degree of control over content viewed on the site, for example by region and sector. In 2006, an independent evaluation of the site will focus on areas such as visual design, usability and content quality.

In 2006, the ongoing development of the site’s technical infrastructure will further improve information input and output and facilitate the creation of new products highlighting the knowledge-management capacity of the site. Expansion of the ReliefWeb syndication service to the web sites of core audiences and partners will extend the reach of knowledge on humanitarian action, policies and principles. Information management and sharing practices will be further consolidated and strengthened by bringing together members of the Humanitarian Information Network (HIN).

Activities:

  • Provide 24-hour coverage of timely and relevant information on complex emergencies and natural disasters, including quality maps and products.
  • Strengthen the technical infrastructure of ReliefWeb with improved automation, products, connectivity and systems.
  • Develop products derived from information shared through the site, including sectoral matrices to assist in surge capacity.
  • Increase outreach to a range of information actors and partners including member states, regional organizations, donors as well as the private sector.
  • Further develop and apply ReliefWeb policies, standards and guidelines in information management.
  • Continue to advocate for application of best practices in information management through the HIN fora and on the basis of an in-depth user satisfaction evaluation.

Indicators:

  • Number of document updates.
  • Percent increase in training, vacancy and contact entries.
  • Number and percent increase of email subscribership.
  • Number of days per year where site functions at optimum level.
  • Degree of user satisfaction (as evidence by evaluation to be completed in 2006).


ReliefWeb Technical Infrastructure Upgrade Project

ReliefWeb has become the world's largest and most comprehensive information system serving the humanitarian community. The site is comprised of over 30 interlinked databases, and apart from Web usage, sends over 8 million email alerts per year. As it has grown, increased usage, size and functionality have now made it necessary to redevelop the underlying structure of the system. The ReliefWeb infrastructure and software upgrade will aim to ensure a faster and more reliable service to site users and provide an enterprise-level information support system. In 2006 the first phase will take place and a full review and upgrade of search, filter and server infrastructure will be undertaken to ensure the provision of a reliable, robust 24 hour service. Phase two will take place in 2007.

Activities:

  • New infrastructure platform with redundancy and failover capacity to ensure site availability.
  • New comprehensive search engine developed for faster site-wide searching.
  • Filter tools in place to provide speedier and more comprehensive results.

Indicator:

  • User feedback on improved infrastructure as measured by a user survey.


Field Information Support Section


FIELD SUPPORT SECTION
Planned Staffing Regular Budget Extra-budgetary Projects Total
Professional
-
-
7
7
General Service
-
-
2
2
Total
-
-
9
9
Staff costs (US$)
-
-
1,479,046
1,479,046
Non-staff costs (US$)
-
-
320,355
320,355
Total costs (US$)
-
-
1,799,401
1,799,401
Total requested (US$)
 
 
 
1,799,401

The Field Information Support (FIS) Section continues to support the delivery and coordination of humanitarian assistance through taking a lead role in information management (IM) preparedness and response activities, and by enhancing OCHA’s IM capacity. In the context of preparedness, FIS’s strategic direction is now focusing on defining situations in which enhanced capacity may be required and developing appropriate response tools and applications. FIS is also engaged in improving OCHA’s response capacity through improving the integration of OCHA’s IM systems and developing and maintaining the equipment, staff and tools required to rapidly deploy IM support mechanisms in a timely manner. FIS also continues to have oversight management for the deployment, operation and transition of Humanitarian Information Centres (HIC).

In 2005, HICs were established in Sri Lanka and Sumatra following the 26 December 2004 tsunami, in Niger in response to the food security crisis and in Pakistan in response to the South Asia Earthquake. The tsunami response presented a new challenge. The HIC was required to deploy and provide IM services rapidly. Lessons learned from this experience now are being incorporated, with the objective of ensuring that HICs can be deployed more quickly. Key to improving HIC response capacity is the maintenance of a robust roster of personnel for rapid deployment, the ongoing provision of the Rapid Response Fund, provided in 2005 by the US Office for Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and continued HIC training and utilization of information management tools developed under the Field Information Management Strategy initiative.

FIS retains management oversight of the Field Information Management sub-project. This is supported through a Thematic Funding grant provided by the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO). During the course of 2006 the activities of the sub-project will be mainstreamed into FIS with the aim of ensuring that the objectives set under the sub-project are realised.

Activities:

  • Improve capacity to rapidly deploy HICs to disaster situations, (with a focus on rapid deployment of IM support to natural disaster situations).
  • Continue the process of improving IM capacity in OCHA field offices through rolling out products and services for IM enhancement and related advocacy and training on the value-added and use of these products to all OCHA field staff during the course of 2006. Also develop and implement regional IM preparedness and response strategies as required.
  • Expand preparedness activities through enhanced cooperation with OCHA’s Early Warning initiatives, developing a natural disaster response IM strategy and related procedures and building on tools and mechanisms already in place within OCHA. Additionally, play an active part in the Humanitarian Common Services Working Group in the context of the Humanitarian Response Review (HRR) and expand data resources such as development of the geospatial global database and the Maps-On-Demand sub-project.
  • Expand internal and external outreach and advocacy efforts through development of briefing and orientation materials for all partners and increase IM training for OCHA staff in the field and at HQs.

Indicators:

  • Number of Humanitarian Information Centres deployed within one week and fully functional within one month of deployment (average two per year).
  • Number and percent of OCHA-defined regions with IM preparedness and response strategy.
  • Number of humanitarian personnel trained and sensitised in IM.


Field Information Management Project


FIELD SUPPORT SECTION
Planned Staffing Regular Budget Extra-budgetary Projects Total
Professional
-
-
2
2
General Service
-
-
1
1
Total
-
-
3
3
Staff costs (US$)
-
-
682,202
682,202
Non-staff costs (US$)
-
-
960,500
960,500
Total costs (US$)
-
-
1,642,702
1,642,702
Total requested (US$)
 
 
 
1,642,702

The 2004 approval of OCHA’s Field Information Management Strategy (FIM) and the provision of thematic funding by ECHO for three years to assist with the development of OCHA’s IM capacity aims to increase support to the humanitarian community through improving decision support tools and analysis. The Field Information Management sub-project is managed by the Field Information Support Section.

During 2005 the sub-project’s work has focused on two key areas: the creation of a mainstreamed information management capacity within OCHA’s field offices, through the development of information management units in nine offices; and the development of information management systems, applications and tools designed to exponentially improve OCHA’s information management capacity. These tools and applications are designed to ensure a minimum standard in information management across OCHA’s field operations and standardisation of IM methodology.

In 2005, the IM strategy was implemented in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Guinea, Nepal, Russian Federation, Somalia, the Regional Office for Central and East Africa, the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific, and Zimbabwe, adding to those that had been provided with the same capacity in 2004 (Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Uganda and the Regional Office for West Africa). The implementation process implies a cultural shift in the way OCHA manages information and uses it to best inform decision making both within the Office and with its humanitarian partners. Thus the emphasis in 2006 will be to ensure that the information management function is mainstreamed into OCHA’s field operations through the continued hiring of Information Management Officers to work in the field-based Information Management Units within OCHA field offices. The sub-project staff, working in close collaboration with FIS, will provide advocacy, training and implementation support activities to field offices.

Activities:

  • Refine and further develop standardised information management applications (the Who Does What Where application, Contact Directory application, Field Document Management System (FiDMS), OCHA Field Office website template, etc).
  • Improve overall systems integration of existing OCHA applications with those being brought on-line under the sub-project, through the provision of advocacy and training for OCHA field staff and staff working in headquarters.
  • Implement the FIM strategy in all remaining OCHA Field Offices worldwide.

Indicator:

  • Number and percent of OCHA field offices with minimum information management capacity or support.