COORDINATION ACTIVITIES IN THE FIELD
OCHA is currently present in 44 countries, including 23 field offices,
two Regional Disaster Response Advisors (RDRA) and six Regional
Offices (RO). Field offices provide direct support to the United
Nations, non-governmental organizations and the larger humanitarian
community through the coordination of humanitarian action and the
analysis and dissemination of information related to humanitarian
crises. OCHA offices are opened in response to natural and man-made
emergencies, and continue to provide services until the situation
has entered the recovery phase. Clear benchmarks, such as the return
and resettlement of refugees or the engagement of development actors,
are used to determine when an office can be closed and coordination
responsibilities handed over to other actors.
The main purpose of OCHA’s field presence is to facilitate and
support the coordination of humanitarian assistance by governments,
UN agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross Movement, through direct support
to the office of the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinators. This
support is designed and configured based on the scale of the needs,
the existing capacity of the actors, and the existing coordination
mechanisms. OCHA field staff develop and sustain coordination mechanisms
at the capital and local level, develop and disseminate information
products, coordinate needs assessments and resource mobilization
activities, manage access negotiations with local actors, undertake
advocacy on behalf of the most vulnerable and the humanitarian community,
and coordinate the implementation of humanitarian programming.
In 2006, OCHA will expand its activities in several countries.
In light of the massive response efforts by the international community
to the October 2005 South Asia Earthquake and its consequences,
and especially considering the challenges in logistics, the OCHA
presence in Pakistan will need to be continued through the emergency
relief and early recovery phases. OCHA will also expand its presence
in Nepal, particularly outside Katmandu, with the intention of improving
the coordination of assistance and protection. In Papua New Guinea,
OCHA will assist the Resident Coordinator and the UN Country Team
to improve the response to natural disasters and other risk factors.
The progress in the peace process and local reconciliation efforts
in Somalia will allow OCHA to expand its presence inside the country
in an effort to improve humanitarian access. In Zimbabwe, OCHA will
expand its presence to assist the humanitarian community cope with
the effects of drought, HIV/AIDS and diminished capacity for governance,
and assist those displaced by “Operation Restore Order.”
Sudan will remain OCHA’s largest field office, but after two years
of rapid expansion due to increasing demands in Darfur and growing
IDP and refugee return in the south, the focus in 2006 will be on
transition to development actors where conditions allow. In the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, OCHA will continue to use short-term
coordination units to meet emergencies needs outside the major towns,
and will also take on responsibility for managing the newly created
“Good Humanitarian Donorship” Fund.
OCHA continually reviews its field presence to make sure that its
coordination services are appropriate for the contexts in which
it operates. In 2005, the OCHA offices in Angola, Democratic Peoples
Republic of Korea, Liberia and Sierra Leone were closed. During
2006, OCHA’s presence in Sri Lanka and Indonesia is expected to
end with the handover of coordination responsibility to development
partners. Several countries where OCHA has had a long-term presence
have experienced improvements in the prevailing humanitarian situation
as a result of successful peace processes. During 2006, OCHA will
review its presences in Burundi, Central African Republic, Chad,
Ethiopia, Eritrea, the Republic of Congo, Colombia and the Russian
Federation to determine whether the improvements allow for a downsizing
of OCHA’s presence.
To complement the coordination support provided by its field offices,
OCHA has also developed a regional network of support offices and
advisors. OCHA has six Regional Offices – three in Africa (Dakar,
Johannesburg and Nairobi), one in Asia (Bangkok), one in the Middle
East (Dubai) and one in Latin America (Panama). These regional offices
provide support to OCHA’s field offices, monitor developments with
cross-border and regional implications, and also work closely with
regional organizations and countries without a permanent OCHA presence.
Their main functions are information analysis and dissemination,
advocacy and resource mobilization. During 2006, the three newest
offices, Bangkok, Dubai and Panama, will complete their expansion
so that they fully meet the needs of their respective regions.
There are currently eight Regional Disaster Response Advisors (RDRA)
based in Bangkok, Dakar, Dubai, Fiji, Johannesburg, Kobe, Nairobi,
and Panama. They provide technical, strategic and training expertise,
assistance with contingency planning and preparedness, and advice
on monitoring and responding to natural disasters. They also provide
direct support to affected governments, UN Country Teams and the
non-governmental community during disasters through the response
and post-crisis phases.
All OCHA field offices will be better supported on security issues
by the recent assignment of a full-time Assistant Security Focal
Point. The position is dedicated to providing full time support
to OCHA offices on security issues, including MOSS and MORSS upgrades
in order to be compliant with UN security standards. In 2006, OCHA
has requested US$ 3.6 million to upgrade facilities and provide
training to staff throughout its offices. This is a critical investment
in OCHA’s most valuable resource, its staff, and will enhance their
security as they continue to serve in many of the most dangerous
environments in the world. OCHA’s security goal for the coming year
is to ensure full MOSS/MORSS compliance and continued close collaboration
with UNDSS in taking action to improve our security posture.
OCHA also supports IRIN, the Integrated Regional Information Networks.
In 2006, the humanitarian news and analysis service provided by
IRIN will continue to cover sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia
and will expand its reporting of the Middle East region. There are
currently five IRIN regional news service offices based in Ankara,
Dakar, Dubai, Johannesburg and Nairobi, which is the IRIN head office.
IRIN also maintains sub-offices in Abidjan, Kabul and Islamabad.
In addition to its news service and as part of its commitment to
enable the humanitarian community to better understand and respond
to evolving crises and disasters, IRIN also develops multi-media
products, including film documentaries, news footage, quality photography,
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) is an independent
humanitarian news service covering sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia
and the Middle East. IRIN was founded ten years ago to improve the
flow of vital information to those involved in relief efforts in
the Great Lakes region following the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Offices
have since been established in Dakar, Abidjan, Liberia, Angola,
Johannesburg, Islamabad, Ankara, Kabul and Dubai. Its principal
objective is to provide news and analysis that helps the humanitarian
community better understand, anticipate and respond to evolving
crises and emergencies. At the same time, IRIN strives to ensure
that affected communities can also access neutral and reliable information
so they can make better informed decisions about their future.
IRIN’s area of geographical coverage has increased steadily
over the last decade; so too has the range of subjects covered and
the types of services offered. The core news service is distributed
free of charge to subscribers by e-mail and via the website www.irinnews.org.
This is now complemented by a range of multi-media services, namely
PlusNews, a specialized news service on HIV/AIDS, IRIN Radio, which
helps local radio stations develop relevant content for local communities
in Africa and Afghanistan, and IRIN Film, which produces short documentary
films for advocacy purposes and news footage for international media.
More recently, IRIN has added a professional photographer to its
staff so that its reports can be complemented by visual images which
are available free of charge to the humanitarian community.
IRIN has a growing worldwide readership of more than one million
people. Many more receive IRIN news indirectly by picking up its
reports on other websites and newspapers. Most of IRIN’s news
output is in English, but a French-language version of PlusNews
was launched in 2004 and a limited text service is published in
French, Kiswahili and Dari (one of the major languages of Afghanistan).
Plans are in place for news output in Arabic, Portuguese and Russian
as well. IRIN Radio produces audio programmes with partner radio
stations in English, French, Portuguese and six different local
In 2005, IRIN established a Middle East service based in Dubai.
This service will be expanded in 2006 and offers comprehensive reporting
of humanitarian issues in the region in English and Arabic. The
budget for this project – around US$ 1 million – has
not been included in IRIN’s core costs. Similarly, none of
the radio project and only a portion of the PlusNews service budget
is reflected in the budget detailed here. Though considered important
elements of IRIN’s work, additional funds for all three will
have to be sought locally.
With the recognition of HIV/AIDS as a significant factor in many
ongoing humanitarian crises, the
PlusNews service will be gradually incorporated into the core IRIN
activities in an effort to provide more stable funding.
IRIN’s documentaries have been positively received by advocacy
partners and the response from broadcast media to IRIN news footage
has been unprecedented. Diminishing international media coverage
of crises has left an information void that IRIN continues to address
by developing its own broadcast news footage capacity. With limited
investment and a growing distribution system, IRIN intends to provide
media networks with high quality footage of humanitarian concerns
distributed directly to key networks or to 500 global broadcasters
via the UNIFEED-APTN satellite service. Key media networks that
have recently used footage include CNN, CBC, CBS, ABC, PBS, TV5,
BBC and SABC.
In support of humanitarian advocacy, IRIN also intends to improve
the quality of its free online photo library and still images collection
from humanitarian crisis areas. As IRIN expands its services and
geographic coverage, a Deputy Coordinator and Chief Editor will
be joining the team in Nairobi to underpin the quality of its services.
- Consolidate the existing news service to ensure continued timely,
accurate and impartial reporting on humanitarian issues in the
- Produce special reports, analysis, photography and film footage
focused on emerging or neglected crises and post-conflict countries.
- Produce news footage and film documentaries to highlight specific
humanitarian concerns, such as violence against women, and steadily
expand the media distribution network.
- Expand the Middle East service to ensure comprehensive coverage
of the region’s
humanitarian concerns in English and Arabic.
- Improve the flow of information to those affected by conflict
by continuing to produce high quality radio content with selected
local radio stations.
- Timely, accurate and impartial coverage of existing regions
as reflected in feedback from the annual readership survey and
throughout the year.
- Increase in the number of special reports, analyses and film
footage of emerging or neglected crises, post-conflict countries
and issues of particular concern.
- Increase in the uptake of IRIN services by media, local communities,
and the humanitarian and international community for awareness
raising, training and advocacy.
- Middle East network established with bilingual coverage of
humanitarian developments throughout the region.
- Communities affected by conflict have ready access to radio
content produced by IRIN and partner radio stations.
INTEGRATED REGIONAL INFORMATION NETWORKS
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