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Budget Requirements and Staffing 2006



2006 is a year with unique opportunities to strengthen our ability, as humanitarian actors, to undertake lifesaving humanitarian assistance world-wide. Three key reforms should facilitate more robust action through more predictable and immediate funding, better response capacity in the sectors where there have been gaps and stronger leadership in country level coordination.

With a new Central Emergency Response Fund we should be able to give immediate minimum funding to jump-start relief operations when lives are most at stake – in the first weeks of an emergency. Generous pledges from donor partners will also enable us to inject some equity into a system where we do not know whether our appeals will receive five or 95 percent of the resources we need to perform critical assistance tasks.

Inspired by the Humanitarian Response Review undertaken in 2005, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee has endorsed working together in well-coordinated clusters lead by an IASC member organisation. This cluster approach was partially implemented during the extremely challenging earthquake relief operations in Pakistan at the end of 2005. In 2006, I hope to see it progressively employed not only in new emergencies, but also in many of the large ongoing operations as and when the IASC partners and Humanitarian Coordinators on the ground deem it possible to start.

We have seen throughout 2005 how important the leadership of our Humanitarian Coordinators is in relief operations, the largest of which are becoming increasingly complex, often with hundreds of humanitarian organisations and governmental actors involved. In 2006, we will recruit more stand-by Humanitarian Coordinator candidates, train them and the Resident Coordinators and support them more systematically through the OCHA offices.

Throughout 2006 I, together with OCHA, will continue to work with the IASC and others to develop and implement a more predictable and effective humanitarian system. As such, OCHA’s main priorities for the coming year are to support the implementation of the reform, strengthen administrative support to our field operations and strengthen our information management capacity at field level.

Through our advocacy and humanitarian diplomacy OCHA will continue to work on improving access to vulnerable populations. Improved and sustained access for humanitarian action, and the accompanying improvement in security, is a crucial aspect of our emphasis on bolstering coordination and support to the field in support of humanitarian reform.We will also continue to support the work and elaboration of integrated missions both through field coordination and ensuring the promotion of humanitarian principles.

Increasingly, the focus and effort of our work must address the need for protection and in particular the needs of the internally displaced. Our ability to meet these needs continues to be a major challenge to humanitarian response. The cluster system, with its re-commitment to sectoral responsibility provides, with help from OCHA’s Internal Displacement Division and in support of the collaborative approach, clear assignment of responsibility for IDP shelter, protection and camp management, as well as the mechanisms to support the lead agencies and enhance their capacity. Protection of civilians is also an ongoing focus for us. We will continue, alongside our partners, to remind governments of the fact that the primary responsibility for the protection of civilians rests with them and that international efforts can only be complementary to governments’ own efforts in this respect.

Alongside complex emergencies, 2005 has provided a wake-up call in terms of possible climate change, with the devastating hurricanes in the United States and the Caribbean, floods and mudslides in Guatemala and drought in Africa. The Indian Ocean Tsunami and the South Asia Earthquake were the largest in a series of natural disasters. The crises of shelter brought to the fore by the South Asia Earthquake and Indian Ocean Tsunami, and the massive food insecurity that threatens millions throughout Africa and so much of the world, provide just two of the many reminders of the need for more focus on prevention and risk reduction measures and on predictability in response.

As humanitarians, we must go beyond our current structures for addressing natural disasters to find new ways of strengthening preparedness and response at all levels – the local, the national, the regional and the global. In 2006, OCHA will focus both on strengthening our work with the most disaster prone countries to support better preparedness and response and on mobilizing the capacity of countries where such systems are already in place. The ISDR Secretariat and system also will be strengthened through broader membership, more strategic action and focused advocacy to improve risk management in response to the rising challenges presented by natural hazards.

Provided the humanitarian community achieves the objectives of humanitarian reform – to respond faster and more appropriately to crises, complex emergencies and natural disasters – we will become a much more effective system that is better equipped to meet the needs of today’s humanitarian environment.

We look forward to working with our donors and humanitarian partners over the coming year as we work to meet our commitments, strengthen our accountability and fulfill our mandate. Improving the ways that we can, as partners, better respond to needs means building new partnerships – with non-traditional donors and disaster prone countries – and working with partners to create better structures of support and response.

I would like to thank colleagues in UN agencies, the Red Cross and Red Crescent movement and NGOs for their strong and on-going support of the humanitarian reform process and of OCHA’s work.We look forward to our continuing partnership with donors to bring about our shared objective of strengthening humanitarian response and enhancing the performance of humanitarian assistance.

  Jan Egeland
  November 2005