Advocacy and Information Management Branch

The Advocacy and Information Management Branch (AIMB) supports OCHA’s mission to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in three ways. First, AIMB advocates on behalf of people in need and raises
awareness of humanitarian issues. Second, AIMB provides timely, relevant and reliable information services to the
humanitarian community to inform decision-makers and strengthen coordination. Third, AIMB maximizes the use of
information and communications technology (ICT) in the development and provision of information tools, systems
and communications.

AIMB carries out this work through three sections: the Advocacy and Public Information Section, the Information Analysis
Section (which includes ReliefWeb and the Field Information Services Unit) and the Information Technology Section.
In 2008, AIMB will advocate on key humanitarian issues at global, regional and national levels. It will continue to support the Emergency Relief Coordinator and the humanitarian community as they encourage Member States and parties to conflict to put principles into practice – by adhering to international humanitarian law and increasing their protection of civilians in armed conflict.

AIMB will devote considerable resources to support OCHA’s action-oriented analysis of humanitarian trends and a common approach to needs assessment, and to strengthening information management based on common standards and best practices. AIMB’s activities in relation to these objectives will be informed and guided by the findings of the 2007 Information Management Review. (table)

AIMB will, through significant improvements to its information management in 2008, continue to lead efforts in establishing common standards and practices for humanitarian information management – with the ultimate aim of building a sound, in-depth and readily accessible knowledge base for the broader humanitarian community.

OCHA's Information Management Review

In 2007, OCHA commissioned a review of its information management practices to determine whether it is providing the right information products and services in the most efficient and effective ways possible.

The review found that while individual products and services such as ReliefWeb and IRIN receive high marks, many other products range in quality from very good to poor. OCHA’s ‘can do’ attitude and entrepreneurial spirit have led it to undertake many different initiatives, but this has sometimes been done without a clear focus on how the resulting products address stakeholder needs. There is also a clear need for a shared information technology platform to reduce duplication, development time and costs, and to improve the quality of OCHA’s information products.

The Information Management Review recommended that OCHA:

    1. revise the way information management is governed;
    2. systematize the sharing of innovation and setting of standards;
    3. improve its information management capabilities;
    4. enhance its information technology; and
    5. create a digital organization-wide knowledge base.
Information management is an essential component of the assessment, planning, implementation and monitoring of humanitarian assistance.

In 2008, AIMB will establish a project tasked with implementing a multi-year ICT strategy that addresses the requirements identified in the Information Management Review. Among the project’s key priorities for the year will be to initiate an inter-branch consultative process to assess and make recommendations on the quality of OCHA’s information products and the services that support them.

OCHA’s technology platform will be upgraded to enhance performance, reliability and security, as well as to improve the functionality and interoperability of all online platforms, tools and applications. This process will begin with ReliefWeb and OCHA Online (including field websites) with a view to ensuring the future stability of the platform and its ability to support the latest available technology and that of the coming five years.

Other activities will include mainstreaming information management across OCHA so that all information products benefit from common search facilities, controlled vocabularies and metadata management. The Branch will undertake usability and stakeholder analysis of all of its online tools – aligning them with OCHA’s requirements for coordination, advocacy, policy and resource mobilization, as well as with external and internal communications requirements and branding policies. All online presences in the OCHA web family will be redesigned and rationalized.