OCHA HomeTable of ContentsContact Us
HomeOverviewExecutive ManagementEmergency Response CoordinationPolicy Development

Advocacy and Information ManagementCoordination Activities in the FieldOCHA at WorkAnnexesMaps

 

COORDINATION ACTIVITIES IN THE FIELD

 
 
Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
 
 
Africa
 
 
Middle East
 
 
Asia
 
 
Europe
 
 
Americas and the Caribbean
 
 
   
Colombia  
 
   
Haiti  
 
   
Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean  

 

Colombia


The 40-year-old internal armed conflict in Colombia has triggered one of the highest rates of internal displacement in the world, with an average of 778 people displaced every day, and a total of between 1.6 to 2.8 million IDPs over the past ten years. Mass fumigations continue to lead not only to displacement, but also to a number of violations of International Humanitarian Law and human rights. In addition, an undetermined number of communities remain blocked due to ‘armed strikes’ and blockades by illegal armed groups. The presence of unexploded ordinance in more than 50 percent of the country and the on- going use of antipersonnel mines by illegal armed groups, which continue to forcibly recruit children, are additional problems. Between 7,000 and 14,000 children are currently in guerrilla and paramilitary groups, according to UNICEF estimates.

Currently, there is an on-going peace process with the paramilitaries, which has led to the demobilization of some 9,000 combatants. There are also initial talks planned with guerrilla groups that could pave the way for humanitarian agreements directly benefiting the civilian population. However, the holding of presidential and Congressional elections in 2006 could lead to an increase in violence.

Serious challenges lie ahead for the UN system and it should continue to strengthen its capacity to improve humanitarian access to communities affected by the internal armed conflict. Its information management capacity also needs expansion to ensure the development of updated, accurate and verifiable information on humanitarian indicators in the country, thus enhancing the UN system’s coordination capacity in joint planning.

The expanded presence of OCHA in seven of the most important cities in Colombia will allow a more in-depth analysis of the humanitarian situation along with further strengthening of coordination structures. Therefore, one of the greatest challenges that OCHA will face at local, departmental and national levels will be to maintain, with the same level of success as in previous years, its information, coordination support and advocacy capacities to better monitor humanitarian projects and programs. The OCHA office will continue to participate in inter-institutional structures such as the Technical Secretariat of the G-24 and the London-Cartagena Commission, which constitutes an excellent forum for advocacy activities.

In 2006, OCHA will continue to provide coordination support to the Humanitarian Coordinator in Colombia via a central office in Bogotá, three field offices and three satellite offices strategically located throughout the country, in cooperation with national, departmental and local governments, UN agencies and the humanitarian community in general. OCHA will continue to facilitate the coordination amongst UN agencies and other humanitarian actors, maintain its status as facilitator of coordination of the UN agencies on humanitarian issues, and lend support to UNHCR as lead agency on IDPs coordination issues.

In 2006, OCHA’s objectives are to: strengthen and further improve the coordination structures and mechanisms involving the UN system, NGOs, public institutions, and civil society in general in order to better respond to the challenges posed by the growing humanitarian crisis; further improve the quantity and quality of the information produced by the Humanitarian Situation Room; improve the UN capacity to promote humanitarian topics/principles at national, departmental and local levels through a better use of existing coordination and information tools; and assist in improving the response capacity to natural disasters of United Nations agencies.

Activities:

  • Provide support to the activities of the Humanitarian Coordinator at the national, departmental and local levels.
  • Support the mobilization of human, technical and financial resources in order to facilitate the role of the United Nations System with regards to the humanitarian crisis.
  • Create and maintain a central geo-referenced information system to compile information on humanitarian events, organizations, projects and activities in Colombia, including natural disasters, and to monitor risk situations related to natural disasters.
  • Support the creation of the UNS integral response plan and other relevant documents and support the articulation of these with national structures.
  • Participate in the joint United Nations System structures (UNETE) in order to manage emergencies related to natural events.


Indicators:

  • Number and percentage of inter-agency and inter-institutional field missions leading to a unified assessment of the humanitarian situation undertaken.
  • Number and percentage of designed and updated contingency plans for the management of emergencies.
  • A financial monitoring mechanism, in the context of the Humanitarian Action Plan, established, designed and implemented by May 2006.
  • Number of joint missions with government entities to the field during 2006.
  • Amount and percentage of funding received by donors in response to the integral response plan.
COLOMBIA
Planned Staffing Extra-budgetary
Professional
7
National
14
Local (GS)
6
UN Volunteers
1
Total
28
Staff costs (US$)
2,148,745
Non-staff costs (US$)
745,429
Total costs (US$)
2,894,174

 


Haiti


Since 1986, Haitians have experienced steady and uninterrupted economic and social degradation coupled with ever increasing violence. While the arrival of the UN Stabilization Mission (MINUSTAH) in June 2004 had a positive impact on security, social tensions remain high and violence stubbornly threatens, on the eve of crucial elections, to keep Haitians in their accustomed state of deprivation and misery. Humanitarian emergencies triggered by civil strife or natural catastrophes have been affecting Haiti since its independence and there is little evidence that this trend will change quickly. Most importantly, these catastrophes occur within a wider context of structural disaster: Haiti’s social and economic indicators show that the majority of Haitians continue to endure chronic poverty and humanitarian needs, with no prospect of change in 2006.

The recurrent expulsions and alleged intimidation of thousands of Haitians living in the Dominican Republic suggest that some 200,000 people are living in a hostage-like situation under conditions that surely demand humanitarian intervention and are the basis of population displacement and International Humanitarian Law and human rights violations. Additionally of concern are the activities of illegal armed groups in several slums of Port-au-Prince.

This context, to which is added the approaching elections and constant socio-political turmoil, brings the country to a crucial crossroads, presenting serious challenges to the United Nations system as well as to the international community in general. The United Nations System should continue to strengthen its capacity and ability to access the Haitian population threatened by gangs and political violence, chronic poverty and the permanent menace of natural disasters. In this context, one of the main gaps that the UN and the humanitarian community face in Haiti is the availability of reliable humanitarian information, its dissemination and its use as an important and vital coordination tool. The specific priority of OCHA Haiti is to ensure that humanitarian actors, at both the operational and strategic level, have access to the benefits of information management tools to assess, plan, deliver, coordinate and monitor humanitarian assistance in Haiti, therefore supporting efforts for a coordinated and adequate response to the recurrent humanitarian crisis in the country.

In 2005, OCHA started to build up a Humanitarian Information Management Network (HIMN) following the demand of the humanitarian community in Haiti to meet recognized needs through a collaborative information exchange. HIMN’s aim is to ensure that individuals and organizations, at both the operational and strategic level, can access information management tools to assess, plan, coordinate, deliver, and monitor humanitarian assistance. In 2006, OCHA will continue to develop the network’s activities based on the results of the 2002 Symposium on Best Practises in Humanitarian Information Exchange, the completed independent evaluation of HICs and the last Latin American and Caribbean Workshop on Humanitarian Information Management. In this way, OCHA will provide coordination support to the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) in Haiti, working within the operational framework of the Humanitarian and Development Coordination Section (HDCS) of the MINUSTAH. As the transition phase progresses, hopefully accompanied by improved access to populations in need and the implementation of quick impact projects, it is envisaged that a thoroughly operational humanitarian information system will be in place by the end of 2006, allowing a smooth handover to UNDP.

In 2006, OCHA’s key objectives are to: continue to provide coordination support to the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC), namely through an improved information management system; conclude the setting up of a Humanitarian Information Management Network (HIMN); and improve information sharing amongst the Humanitarian and Development Coordination Section (HDCS) of MINUSTAH, UN agencies, NGOs and other humanitarian actors.

Activities:

  • Further use of humanitarian information management as a coordination tool by strengthening existing humanitarian coordination mechanisms/ information-exchange “fora.”
  • Strengthen the humanitarian information management capacity of UN agencies, MINUSTAH Regional Offices, NGOs and local government.
  • Increase the number and quality of humanitarian information products updated and disseminated regularly to the humanitarian community.
  • Organize two workshops on information management targeting a total of 100 participants.
  • Establish a common monitoring mechanism by the end of the first quarter of 2006, with the participation of MINUSTAH, UN agencies and major NGOs.
  • Build partnerships with local, regional and international organizations on data collection, processing and dissemination which will include: monthly and weekly Humanitarian Situation reports disseminated through HIMN website, ReliefWeb, hardcopy and mailing lists; one new Humanitarian Bulletin designed and shared among of UN agencies and humanitarian actors; a humanitarian Orientation Pack designed and disseminated to UN agencies and humanitarian actors; a Haiti Humanitarian Directory, published online and printed for distribution with updated information every six months; and a set of thematic maps and Humanitarian Situation Maps.

Indicators:

  • Number and percent of UN agencies and other humanitarian actors utilizing humanitarian information/data in their programs/strategies.
  • Percentage of the 100 participants who found the two workshops useful and a skill-building exercise with a direct impact on their information management activities.
  • Through a user’s survey, percentage of UN agencies, NGOs and other humanitarian actors who judge OCHA’s information products of excellent quality and a good added value to their work.
HAITI
Planned Staffing Extra-budgetary
Professional
2
National
1
Local (GS)
1
UN Volunteers
-
Total
4
Staff costs (US$)
436,908
Non-staff costs (US$)
251,990
Total costs (US$)
688,898

 


Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean


Over the past decades, this region has experienced a series of devastating disasters such as Hurricane Mitch in 1998, the El Salvador earthquakes in 2001 and the 2004 - 2005 tropical storm season in the Caribbean which had a record number of strong hurricanes (Ivan, Dennis, Stan, Katrina, Wilma). Over 3,000 earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 5.0 on the Richter scale were registered between 1900 and 1979 and of the 405 tsunamis recorded in the Pacific Basin between 1900 and 1983, 61 originated off the west coast of Latin America. Currently, one third of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is dangerously exposed to natural catastrophes.

2005 was a distinctly above-average hurricane season. In total, 22 tropical storms were recorded in the Atlantic; 12 of them became hurricanes and six of those were major hurricanes. The 2004-2005 hurricanes are directly responsible for the deaths of more than 6,000 people, with several million people affected and at least US$ 100 billion in economic losses.

Alongside natural disasters is the potential for emergencies. Despite 20 years of democratic governance, many countries in this region face possible crises due to socio-economic inequality, serious poverty, particularly in regard to indigenous populations and stagnating economies. The potential for socio-political instability, with its concomitant humanitarian impact requires careful monitoring and, when appropriate, contingency planning.

The region’s humanitarian problems often combine social unrest, population displacement and growing disaster vulnerabilities. Consequently, humanitarian crises could have both national and regional consequences.

One of the main challenges for the coming year will be OCHA’s capacity to manage humanitarian information in the region, one of the core functions of the Regional Office. An appropriate humanitarian information system will allow OCHA to increase its credibility among the different partners in the region and provide a solid base for orienting policies and strategies for disaster response preparedness and advocacy.

OCHA’s objectives for 2006 are to: improve emergency preparedness, coordination mechanisms and response for natural disasters and other humanitarian issues at the regional and national levels; strengthen systems for the provision of timely and quality information in support of humanitarian decision making and response; enhance the level of advocacy for and awareness of human rights, international humanitarian law and humanitarian principles and their application in the region; and improve clarity on the relationship between humanitarian actors and the military.

Activities:

  • Develop a toolbox for preparedness activities in key priority countries, demonstrating the added value of an OCHA/RDRA presence in disaster prone regions.
  • Promote dialogue, regional alliances or agreement and sharing of know-how and resources between the United Nations, governments and regional institutions such as the Centre for the Coordination of Natural Disaster Prevention in Central America (CEPREDENAC) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA).
  • Establish, in selected countries, a permanent OCHA national focal point in coordination with UN Disaster Management Teams (UNDMT) and UN Emergency Technical Teams (UNETT) to support the emergency preparedness process as well as for information management.
  • Develop a regional information management system with the support of AIMB to facilitate the flow of information on natural disasters and humanitarian situations in the countries of the region.
  • Establish an advocacy strategy aimed at highlighting the trends of the region.
  • Carry out, in close cooperation with RCs/HCs in the countries concerned, humanitarian advocacy aiming at the promotion and respect of basic humanitarian principles as well as protection and assistance of vulnerable groups affected by emergencies and conflicts.
  • Provide emergency preparedness training to national authorities and relevant actors in selected countries in order to integrate and coordinate the international and national relief and response mechanism.
  • Establish mechanisms for early warning linked with early action plans in coordination with Risk, Emergency and Disaster for Latin America and the Caribbean (RED-LAC), AIMB, UNDMT and national authorities in selected countries.
  • Support the addressing of humanitarian issues within the UN structure of thematic groups and task forces for better targeting of UN programmes to high-risk groups.
  • Provide Emergency Preparedness and Response training to government and NGO staff at least twice in central areas and once in the high-risk districts, and develop regular coordination with government counterparts for early warning systems and collaboration in preparedness for response.
  • In coordination with headquarters, organize a meeting with donors to fund regional and national OCHA projects.

Indicators:

  • Number of countries with OCHA National Focal Points for emergency preparedness and information management.
  • Number of UN staff, government officials and NGOs trained in the promotion and respect of basic humanitarian principles and on emergency preparedness and response.
  • Number of countries with an established linkage with early warning and early action.
  • Sufficient funds are mobilized for 2006 RO Panama budget.
RO - LATIN AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN
Planned Staffing Extra-budgetary
Professional
3
National
3
Local (GS)
3
UN Volunteers
2
Total
11
Staff costs (US$)
836,982
Non-staff costs (US$)
351,204
Total costs (US$)
1,188,186