OCHA in 2007
Activities and Extra-Budgetary Funding Requirements

coordination activities in the field


 

COORDINATION ACTIVITIES IN THE FIELD

Currently, OCHA has a presence in 40 countries, maintaining nearly 50 field offices, six Regional Offices (RO) and eight Regional Disaster Response Advisers (RDRA). Field offices provide direct support to the United Nations, IOM, non-governmental organizations and the larger humanitarian community by coordinating humanitarian action and analysis and disseminating information related to humanitarian crises. OCHA opens its offices to respond to natural and human-made emergencies, and continues to provide services and meet needs until the situation has entered the recovery phase. Clear indicators, such as the return and resettlement of refugees or the engagement of development actors, are used to determine when an office will be closed and coordination responsibilities handed over to other actors.

The single focus of OCHA in the field is to facilitate and support the coordination of humanitarian assistance by governments, UN Agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross/ Crescent Movement, through direct support to the office of the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinators. This support is designed and configured based on the scale of need, the existing capacity of other actors, and existing coordination mechanisms. OCHA field staff develop and sustain coordination mechanisms at both capital and local levels, develop and disseminate information products, coordinate needs assessments and resource mobilization activities, manage access negotiations with local actors, and advocate on behalf of the humanitarian community for the most vulnerable.

OCHA saw major expansion in 2005 in response to large emergencies including the Darfur crisis in Sudan, the Indian Ocean tsunami and the South Asia earthquake. 2006 was a year with more variance, as some operations increased in size and some wound down, particularly those related to the tsunami and South Asia earthquake. In 2007, OCHA will consolidate and spread its resources more evenly across emergencies while placing a major emphasis on strengthening the roles and functions of the Regional Offices to enhance response capacity.

OCHA has six Regional Offices (ROs) currently based in Nairobi, Johannesburg, Dakar, Dubai, Bangkok and Panama. ROs act as regional centres of excellence, complementing HQ support to OCHA field offices, and providing support on disaster preparedness and response to countries where OCHA does not have a presence. The Regional Offices take the lead in analyzing developments with cross-border and regional implications in addition to enhancing regional partnerships and initiatives both within and outside the UN system.

During 2007, all but one Regional Office will increase in size to accommodate new responsibilities, including the support of core functions such as information management, advocacy, policy, administration, surge capacity and coordination. This includes the establishment of a regional humanitarian network and website (RED-HUM) in the Latin America and Caribbean Region, enhanced support to humanitarian coordination in Myanmar in the Asia Region and increased surge capacity and administrative backstopping to OCHA Field Offices from all ROs. Regional Offices will also play a greater role in regional contingency planning, ensuring that early warning signs of humanitarian needs are translated into early action.

OCHA has Regional Disaster Response Advisers (RDRA) in each Regional Office, (except Johannesburg), and in Fiji, with a new adviser to be established in 2007 to cover Central Asia. RDRAs provide technical, strategic and training expertise, assistance with contingency planning and preparedness, and advice on monitoring and responding to natural disasters. They also assist effected governments, UN Country Teams and the non-governmental community through direct support in the response and post-crisis phases.

A major decrease in size of operations came from OCHA's draw down in tsunami-affected Aceh, the gradual handover of coordination responsibilities in Southern Sudan to UNDP and the United Missions in Sudan (UNMIS), and the complete withdrawal from assisting in the South Asia Earthquake in Pakistan. Additionally, the situations in Burundi, Guinea, Republic of Congo, Lebanon, Nepal and the Russian Federation (North Caucases) have shown considerable improvement, with local humanitarian communities becoming increasingly focused on transitioning from humanitarian work to early recovery. Thus, OCHA is phasing down in Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Nepal and Burundi and is closing its offices in Pakistan, Niger, the Republic of Congo and Guinea (which will be covered by the Regional Office for West Africa).

During 2006, as the crisis related to the Indian Ocean Tsunami moved from emergency relief to the early recovery and reconstruction phase, OCHA began gradually handing over its coordination responsibilities in the tsunami-affected areas of Indonesia to the joint Office of the UN Recovery Coordinator (UNORC) and UNDP office structure. This transition process in Aceh, while not without challenges, has resulted in a coherent structure at headquarters level between OCHA, UNDP and the United Nations Development Group Office (UNDGO) to look at the practical aspects of the handover of coordination activities. This approach has worked well already in Pakistan and in Lebanon.

However, the Darfur crisis continued to spill over its borders in 2006, fueling instability in neighboring countries. Given the current regional dynamics, OCHA will expand its presence in both Chad and CAR in 2007. In addition to supporting on-going humanitarian activities in Sudan, Chad and CAR, OCHA will promote a better coordination between relief operations in the three countries and move toward defining a comprehensive regional strategy.

OCHA will continue to be fully engaged responding to the humanitarian needs in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Uganda, Côte d'Ivoire, Somalia and Sri Lanka. In all of these situations, there remains a threat of conflict that would potentially result in the displacement of tens of thousands of people. Thus, OCHA will continue to have a significant presence and engagement.

OCHA will continue to monitor closely the humanitarian situations in the occupied Palestinian territory, Iraq and Afghanistan and will review its presence in Timor-Leste during the course of 2007 due to recent improvements.

Indeed, OCHA continually reviews its field presence to ensure its coordination services are relevant and effective for the contexts in which it operates. A more robust review process has been put in place at the HQ level through an improved work planning process. Mid-year there will be a comprehensive review of the size, mandate and focus of each of the Field Offices and if necessary, priorities will be readjusted to Field Offices most in need.

All OCHA offices at regional and country level will place particular emphasis next year on implementing the humanitarian reform at the field level by establishing the Humanitarian Partnership Teams, ensuring the roll-out of the cluster system, and facilitating the application for CERF grants and loans.


Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)

The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) is a humanitarian news service covering sub-Saharan Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East. Editorially independent, IRIN's principle role is to supply nonpartisan, relevant information to a diverse audience of humanitarian actors, including decision-makers in governments, vulnerable populations, and local and international media, with the aim of promoting a better understanding of persistent crises and new emergencies.

With today's reduced budgets, few media organisations can afford to provide comprehensive coverage beyond the first days of a crisis or disaster, and most do not focus on humanitarian response to disasters. Therefore many stories make headlines or hit TV screens and then quickly disappear, leaving readers and viewers with little or no contextual understanding of the crisis. In Africa in recent years, this has been compounded by the closure or reduction in the number of Western media organisations, reducing even further any attention paid to a continent that is already poorly covered by the media.

Distinct from UN public information units, IRIN provides a daily flow of relevant news and features to the wider humanitarian community on a broad range of issues, countries and events. IRIN is unique in providing sustained, complete and thorough coverage of crises by focusing on the plight of civilians.

IRIN is the only information agency of its kind with headquarters in a developing country, and most of its writers are based in and report directly from the field. In recent years, IRIN has expanded its multi-media output by producing award-winning video documentaries, film footage, still images and specialised publications to highlight key concerns or issues, such as emerging or neglected crises, sexual violence and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

IRIN also operates a radio service that provides timely information to vulnerable communities affected by crises. To date, several hundred radio news programmes have reached tens of millions of people in Afghanistan, Angola, Burundi, Cote D'Ivoire, Liberia, Somalia and Sudan. A radio service will be launched in Northern Uganda in 2007. In addition, IRIN operates a specialized HIV/AIDS service, PlusNews, which is distributed in English, French and Portuguese.

IRIN delivers much of its content electronically via its online platform - www.irinnews.org - and directly by email. Traffic to the website has grown by 50 percent since 2005, with 1.2 million visits per month in 2006. IRIN content is re-posted on popular internet-based news services such as Reuters Alertnet and AllAfrica.com, while some 6,380 websites are linked to the IRIN website. Current estimates place global readership at more than 1 million people. In early 2007, IRIN will launch a new website that aims to enhance online access to its news and multi-media content.

Against this background, IRIN's key objectives in 2007 are as follows:

Improved tools and services: IRIN will strengthen access to timely, accurate and balanced information and improve the quality of IRIN humanitarian news output with the establishment of an integrated and multi-media newsgathering, production and editing capability.

Improved, and publicly profiled, analysis of global and country humanitarian trends and issues: IRIN will promote better informed humanitarian decision-making by a) placing greater emphasis on providing contextual information and analysis of humanitarian issues and events; b) focusing on neglected emergencies; c) strengthening IRIN's surge capacity, and d) using film and photography to highlight key humanitarian issues.

More coherent and sharpened advocacy on humanitarian issues: IRIN will improve the delivery of all products to an expanding readership. This will entail greater use of technology and internet delivery as well as systematic outreach to ensure information reaches key end-users.

Strengthen in-country coordination: IRIN will improve access to information for affected communities by developing links with local groups and civil society and reinforcing multi-lingual text and audio services.

Effective human resources planning and management: IRIN will restructure operations to achieve greater flexibility and efficiency, scaling down offices where required and making better use of human resources.

Key Indicators for 2007
  • Number of reports and analyses, films and still images produced; corresponding level of user satisfaction in readership survey, ah-hoc and systematic feedback; number of media sources and advocacy groups regularly using IRIN material; website results (e.g. the number of page requests per month)
  • Integrated news production capacity established by end 2007, with a multimedia approach applied to all major humanitarian events and issues
  • Number of high quality reports, analyses and multimedia output that contributes to improved analysis of global and humanitarian trends and issues by the humanitarian community, particularly in relation to sudden-onset and neglected crises
  • Percent of rise in readership levels; percent of IRIN information products that are available directly via the internet

INTEGRATED REGIONAL INFORMATION NETWORKS

Planned Staffing
Total

Professional
25
National Officers
11
General Service
19
UN Volunteers
0
Total
55

Staff costs (US$)
3,769,808
Non-staff costs (US$)
4,986,648

Total costs (US$)
8,756,456