OCHA in 2009 Cover

Goal One:

A Better Coordinated, More Equitably Supported International Humanitarian Response System

A Predictable and Needs-based Humanitarian Financing System

Nearly $7 billion was requested in 2008 through consolidated and flash appeals to respond to humanitarian needs from sudden-onset emergencies and protracted crises. The challenge is to ensure that sufficient funding is properly prioritized, balanced across crises and sectors, available at the right time, based on assessed needs and guided by targeted strategic plans.

OCHA is a major player in support of the global effort to move toward a predictable and needs-based humanitarian financing system and will apply resources in 2009 to improve the manner in which the international humanitarian system seeks and manages funding. It will expand its role in improving management and oversight of the humanitarian pooled funding mechanisms: the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the Common Humanitarian Funds (CHFs), and the Emergency Response Funds (ERFs). OCHA efforts will include support to coordination of response, developing and refining guidance, conducting training and outreach, carrying out advocacy and fundraising, and strengthening accountability measures. Particular attention will be given to improving overall coherence amongst diverse funding approaches, including complementarity within the humanitarian pooled funds and reinforcing the cooperative interaction between humanitarian financing and the other pillars of reform: clusters, strengthening the Humanitarian Coordinator system, and partnerships with non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The timely availability of adequate resources to meet current and growing humanitarian needs is central to the successful functioning of pooled funds. OCHA will, therefore, undertake resource mobilization efforts to increase the breadth and depth of the CERF donor pool so that it can continue to reach its annual target of $500 million established by the General Assembly and hit for the first time in 2008. Further, OCHA will continue to mobilize resources for existing and new CHFs and ERFs at the global and country level. In response to demands from partners and the field OCHA intends to establish at least one more CHF and five more ERFs.

Despite increased contributions through pooled funds, most funding is still provided through direct donor contributions to aid organizations. OCHA will, therefore, strengthen its engagement with the Good Humanitarian Donorship Implementation Group (GHDIG) to contribute to improving the quantity and quality of funding for humanitarian response as a whole. OCHA will aim to achieve more balanced funding by ensuring that donors have functioning forums at global and country levels in which to coordinate and balance their funding allocations across crises, across sectors within crises and with pooled funds. Linkages between the donors’ GHDIG initiative and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) will be strengthened through better and more regular interaction on humanitarian financing.

OCHA will work toward improving the humanitarian response structure to support planning and funding of efficient and principled humanitarian assistance. The consolidated appeal process (CAP) is the primary tool to coordinate the planning, advocacy, implementation and monitoring of humanitarian action. New methods of needs analysis and rating the scale and severity of crises will shape humanitarian strategies and make funding requests more strongly rooted in evidence. Improvements in sector planning and monitoring will continue to be made through the cluster system to ensure the mapping of needs and assignment of actions to cover them, inclusive yet strict selection of projects for the CAP, clear prioritization among the selected projects for funding allocations, and better monitoring of project implementation. Partnerships with an affected country or government will be deepened to extend the best practices of the appeal system to major emergencies where no CAP or functional equivalent currently exists.

A series of comprehensive efforts – including training, surge support, coaching, and enhanced guidelines – will be undertaken to improve the field-based decision-making processes for strategic planning and pooled fund decision-making. These actions are in support of broader efforts of humanitarian reform and will be conducted in coordination with relevant units in OCHA, in partnership with operational agencies, NGOs and Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators. Improved guidance and support will be given to field teams on the development and measurement of results of the humanitarian action elaborated in the CAP.

The development of a standard, integrated reporting and monitoring framework for the CAP will result in a stronger accountability system. The framework will become an essential tool to assess overall performance at the sector or cluster level. It will be synchronized with ongoing work to crystallize best practices in sector-specific needs assessments (an obvious foundation for subsequent monitoring), with a view to continuing to develop common needs analysis (as piloted in the IASC’s Needs Analysis Framework). This effort will also strengthen accountability measures for country-based pooled funds. This will improve the ability of these funds to quickly reflect field realities in funding allocations. The CERF Secretariat will also consolidate its performance and accountability tools into a framework from which relevant elements may be adapted, thus serving as a model for replication in countries with pooled funds.

The newly-created Funding Coordination Section (FCS) will strive to ensure a consistent and coherent approach to humanitarian financing, with a principal focus on field support and harmonization of mechanisms (and with the CAP); development of guidance; and integrated training programmes. FCS will also support Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators, through surge capacity on the establishment, use and harmonization of financing mechanisms at the country level.

The CERF Secretariat will ensure that the Fund is appropriately managed in accordance with established procedures and in partnership with key stakeholders. In 2009, to ensure that the CERF continues to build on its track record, there will be particular focus in the areas of improvement highlighted by the two-year evaluation of the CERF released in July 2008. Notable in the evaluation was ensuring that the quality of projects approved by the CERF Secretariat becomes more consistent, that the CERF Secretariat is strengthened to enable the proper functioning, management and oversight of the Fund and that accountability lines for the CERF are clarified.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
Humanitarian financing mechanisms properly resourced and supported.
  • CERF receives target funds of $500 million.
  • All CAPs are at least 70 per cent funded.
  • Funding committed to country-level pooled funds increased by $125 million by December 2009.
  • Increase in the number of donors supporting country pooled funds to 12.
  • Two new ERFs established by mid-year and three additional by end 2009.
Guidance, training and support provided on the proper and complementary use of the humanitarian financing mechanisms.
  • Guidance documents prepared on: (1) revised CERF application guidelines for the loan and grant elements; (2) revised guidance on the synergy between flash appeals and the CERF rapid response window; (3) new standardization guidelines for the establishment of ERFs; (4) revised guidelines for standardization of CHFs; and (5) draft guidance on harmonizing the management of pooled fund processes at the field level.
  • Development and roll-out of an integrated humanitarian financing training package developed and field tested in two locations by December 2009.
  • At least two consultative processes held on humanitarian financing with IASC/inter-agency forums and GHDIG.
Accountability measures strengthened.
  • Development of a performance and accountability framework for the CERF by September 2009.
  • Review of the use and management of pooled fund mechanisms at the field level by December 2009.
  • Three pilot countries using a standard, integrated reporting and monitoring framework (developed by June) as part of CAP to assess overall humanitarian outcomes at the sector or cluster level.
  • One hundred per cent of countries meeting the deadlines for monitoring reports to the Emergency Relief Coordinator for activities implemented with funding from CERF.
Funding disbursed in a timely manner in sudden-onset emergency contexts.
  • Eighty per cent of flash appeals published within seven days of declaration of disaster and revised within one month of initial launch.
  • At least 50 per cent of the total amount provided by the CERF to flash appeals is provided within the first two weeks.

Improved Coordination Structures at Country, Regional, and International Level

Strengthening coordination, partnership and leadership in humanitarian crises is at the core of OCHA’s work. During 2009, OCHA will contribute to better humanitarian response through engagement with country, regional and international coordination structures. OCHA will examine its own coordination role and how this can be improved and, together with partners, will strengthen inter-agency humanitarian response. The humanitarian reform agenda, endorsed by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), is the framework for implementing these improvements and for building on the successful roll-out of reform initiatives over the past several years.

In 2009 there will be a focus on strengthening the Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs) at the field level and on the quality of the cluster response. Cluster response will be enhanced by capacity-building initiatives and leadership training of cluster leads, OCHA Heads of Offices, Resident Coordinators (RCs) and Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs). OCHA will promote effective and inclusive humanitarian coordination mechanisms in all humanitarian contexts. This includes highly insecure environments such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan, where OCHA will be working with the United Nations Department for Safety and Security to address the operational security environment for all humanitarian workers.

OCHA will strengthen efforts to improve the coherence of the UN’s approach in environments with a multi-dimensional peacekeeping operation or a special political mission, by engaging in mission planning; providing substantive support to HCs, OCHA field offices and HCTs; and engaging at the policy level with United Nations Secretariat departments on issues related to integration.

As a strategic priority for 2009, OCHA will work closely with the Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Response and with the Development Operations Coordination Office to ensure effective early recovery planning during emergencies; and where the situation is improving, to promote a seamless transfer of coordination responsibilities to development partners. Dedicated capacity to address safety and security of humanitarian personnel, early recovery and efforts to improve the coherence of the United Nations planning is now available at headquarters to provide substantive support to HCs, OCHA field offices and HCTs, and to engage at the policy level with United Nations Secretariat departments and humanitarian agencies. In all humanitarian crises, OCHA field offices will support HCs to lead effective HCTs that include international and national NGOs in planning and undertaking humanitarian response. Engagement with civil society and with governments and supporting the rolled-out cluster approach in all new and ongoing humanitarian emergencies will be a priority.

In-country humanitarian finance initiatives, supported by OCHA, as well as the facilitation of inclusive consolidated appeals will assist in uniting humanitarian partners around a common strategy, while also helping to ensure a more needs-based, predictable and timely emergency response. Coordination will be further facilitated by OCHA core activities such as information management, advocacy and humanitarian reporting, which will include the monitoring of good practices to support the development of policies and guidelines.

To support the management of HCTs, structured and continuous dialogue between the Emergency Relief Coordinator and HCs will be strengthened through agreed HC compacts, against which the work plans of OCHA field offices will be aligned.

OCHA regional offices will support regional humanitarian coordination platforms, such as the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Support Office in Southern Africa and the Regional Risk, Emergency and Disaster Task Force in Latin America and the Caribbean to develop regional strategies, including contingency plans to address humanitarian needs. Partnerships and joint initiatives with regional organizations, such as Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Economic Community of West African States, will be supported by the regional offices to ensure principles of humanitarian response are incorporated into their policies. Regional offices will engage with RCs in countries without an OCHA presence to offer support in accessing humanitarian tools, in facilitating the inclusion of humanitarian reform principles into contingency planning and in ensuring the appropriate level of in-country preparedness.

At the onset of an emergency, OCHA will ensure that sufficient expertise is deployed to support the RC or HC in the establishment and management of coordination structures and in adhering to IASC-agreed procedures, in order to rally cluster leads to plan emergency responses according to humanitarian reform. Resources will be drawn from OCHA regional offices, OCHA surge capacity and, when necessary, from OCHA specialist staff at headquarters.

At the headquarters level, OCHA will engage with global cluster leads, sharing best practices and ensuring the availability of guidance when required. OCHA will continue to support the IASC, its Task Forces and Sub Working Groups in Geneva and in New York to ensure coordination amongst United Nations Agencies, NGOs and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement (RC/RCM); will promote joint coordination efforts though the Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs; and will work to ensure that humanitarian concerns and the need for joint action are included in all high level meetings.

Partnership strengthening, including operationalizing the “Principles of Partnership”, will be supported by OCHA through initiatives such as the Global Humanitarian Platform, which brings together NGOs, civil society, RC/RCM and other intergovernmental bodies in a forum in which issues of strategic and policy interest can be discussed.

Improved humanitarian leadership will be supported by OCHA, through the IASC, in the development of a more professional succession planning system for HCs and the establishment of an IASC Humanitarian Coordination Assessment Panel. OCHA will also support the development of a comprehensive performance management system for Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators, ensuring continuous feedback and guidance.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
Trained and accountable humanitarian leadership.
  • Seventy-five per cent of Resident Coordinators trained on humanitarian coordination.
  • All Humanitarian Coordinators trained in humanitarian advocacy.
  • All HCs engaged in a compact-based performance management process, including an annual review by July 2009.
  • Sixty-five per cent of emergencies in which there is an HC vacancy are filled by a member of the Humanitarian Coordinator Pool.
Coherent guidance consistently provided by OCHA to RCs, HCs and OCHA field offices on implementing and strengthening the use of the cluster approach, in addition to wider reform principles in new and ongoing emergencies.
  • Bi-annual completion of the Humanitarian Reform Tracking Tool in consultation with the cluster leads to be included in the Global Cluster’s annual report to Emergency Relief Coordinator.
External evaluation of the main outcomes of the joint humanitarian response at the country level, including overall operational effectiveness of the cluster approach and other components of the humanitarian reform process.
  • Second phase of the cluster evaluation completed by September 2009.
  • Framework for implementation of the evaluation’s conclusions and recommendations developed by December 2009.
Strengthened partnerships between United Nations and non-United Nations organizations.
  • All HCTs and clusters in the field based around the “Principles of Partnership”.

Four Pillars of Humanitarian Reform

OCHA is firmly committed to ensuring that all elements of humanitarian reform are mainstreamed and carried forward as an integral part of its daily work. Special emphasis will be placed on having United Nations and non-United Nations cluster partners assume greater responsibility for strengthening humanitarian action.

OCHA’s four focus areas and associated activities are:

Humanitarian Leadership

Promotion of dialogue and consensus among humanitarian partners on key normative issues relating to the humanitarian coordination system; enhancement of the leadership and coordination skills of Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators; expansion of the pool of potential HCs; development of effective knowledge management tools; enhanced performance management and appraisal of RCs and HCs; enhanced support provided to RCs and HCs by OCHA field offices and headquarters.


Further development and strengthening of United Nations and non-United Nations partnerships based on the Principles of Partnership with the aim of ensuring more effective and coherent international responses to humanitarian emergencies.

Coordination Systems and Capacity

Establishment and maintenance of predictable and effective coordination systems according to the principles of the cluster approach and IASC-agreed operational guidance, and capacity-building aimed at ensuring that humanitarian personnel are well trained and supported in the use of these systems for more coherent and effective humanitarian action.

Humanitarian Finance

Ensuring sufficient funding is available at the right time, based on assessed needs and properly prioritized, balanced across crises and sectors, and guided by targeted and comparable strategic plans.

Strengthened OCHA Emergency Response Capacity

It is essential for OCHA to have the right people in the right location at the right time, supported by adequate resources and facilitated through a conducive system of internal response protocols and procedures. Experiences in 2008 have underlined the critical importance of reliability and expediency in OCHA’s internal rapid response capacity; and, consequently, its ability to pro-actively discharge its coordination function in support of partners during the initial states of emergencies and disasters.

OCHA continues to strengthen its humanitarian response structures by providing appropriate resources in a timely and effective manner either through internal expertise from among the staff or through well-established external arrangements such as standby partnerships. As disasters strike with increasing frequency, OCHA’s ability to respond is being tested. To ensure that OCHA has the internal capacity and technical expertise on hand, OCHA emergency response systems need to be strengthened and refined. The honing of systems and continual improvement to OCHA’s emergency response is a collaborative effort linking OCHA’s specialist emergency response components based in New York, Geneva and regional offices to review and improve OCHA’s existing capacities.

During the first chaotic hours of a major disaster, there are a number of critical components of an international response that are automatically generated – international urban search and rescue teams in the case of an earthquake through networks such as the OCHA-supported International Search and Rescue Advisory Group and United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC). During this early phase of the response, when the picture of the overall devastation and its humanitarian implications are relatively confused and unknown, the regional office – or field office where one is present – is critical to a successful early response. The regional office is readily available to provide surge capacity staff, whether general or specialist Humanitarian Affairs Officers, that can deploy to assist RCs, HCs and HCTs to bolster coordination mechanisms and identify areas in the humanitarian system that may require further assistance from OCHA.

As OCHA’s eyes and ears on the ground, regional offices are best positioned to provide guidance for Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators in specifying which of OCHA’s tools and services will be most appropriate to strengthen their emergency response. Additionally, surge staff provide operational guidance for OCHA’s engagement by outlining existing coordination structures and developing humanitarian needs and linking them to the design of an office structure to support the Humanitarian Coordinator. In 2009, regional offices will continue to work with governments and Resident Coordinators to provide information and in-country guidance on the available tools and services that may be called upon at the commencement of an emergency. They will also strengthen the knowledge base of governments, Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators through regular trainings and seminars on their role in emergency response.

At the behest of the government of a country in crisis, an OCHA-led UNDAC team may be deployed immediately after disaster has struck to provide assistance in coordinating the international response: This proven mechanism for assistance continues to provide high-quality teams to support countries in need. From experience gained during UNDAC deployments throughout 2008 – of 14 UNDAC teams including a total of 51 UNDAC members from 30 countries and international organizations – UNDAC trainings continue to be strengthened to ensure that information regarding changes in humanitarian coordination systems, stemming from the ongoing humanitarian reform process, are passed to team members to ensure a smooth transition between UNDAC personnel and arriving OCHA staff and the humanitarian community on their departure.

Beyond UNDAC, but including the regional offices, the ability of OCHA to provide readily available surge capacity staff for rapid deployment to new emergencies continues to be strengthened and refined. It is encouraging that large numbers of staff are applying to the internal Emergency Response Roster (ERR), which continues to be the primary instrument through which generalists and operational support staff are deployed to the field for periods of up to three months. As ERR human resources come from within the organization, there are obviously limitations to the length these internal employees can remain in the field. The ERR is best used in conjunction with other internal and external resources (such as the Stand-By Partnerships Program) to avoid over-reliance on one particular resource. OCHA will also continue to strengthen its ability to rapidly and systematically dispatch technical specialists – for example Civil-Military Coordinators, Information Management Officers, environmental specialists and information technology experts. During the course of 2009, OCHA will work towards an arrangement whereby all or most of these technical surge tools can be better linked and coordinated to ensure an expeditious, standardized approach.

The Coordination and Response Division provides strategic and operational oversight to OCHA’s response. An Emergency Task Force is established to develop the framework for this. This framework guides the OCHA system from entry point into the disaster, lays out objectives for the field, regional and headquarters, as well as outlining reasonable exit strategies. Based on lessons learned in 2008, measures will be taken to improve the cohesion between New York and Geneva in emergencies, particularly aimed at clarifying roles and responsibility and promoting accountability, especially for staff members in key positions.

In order to strengthen its services to the humanitarian community in major disasters and emergencies, OCHA will continue to revise and modernize its operational procedures. This includes the establishment of standardized procedures for the use of OCHA’s Emergency Relief Coordination Centre (ERCC) during emergencies and training of OCHA staff to improve analysis and decision-making capabilities. Additionally, OCHA will conduct simulation exercises with internal and external counterparts to practice and further develop procedures for operational cooperation and coordination.

OCHA’s capacity to respond to two simultaneous large-scale emergencies is being enhanced with the establishment of a standing equipment reserve, which includes personal deployment kits, telecommunications and Minimum Operating Security Standards (MOSS) compliant equipment (including vehicles). The challenge in 2009 will be to identify and conclude agreements with potential equipment providers. Procedures for rotating limited equipment in the best way possible, while ensuring that capacity will be available in case of a major emergency, also have to be established.

Finally, OCHA will continue to work at improving its information collection, analysis and dissemination systems to ensure that high quality information is made rapidly available at all levels of the response and for different audiences.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
OCHA strengthens surge capacity through the timely and appropriate provision of staff to new emergencies.
  • In seventy-five per cent of rapid onset emergencies (following a decision for OCHA to respond) surge staff is deployed within 72 hours, a core team (which may include key coordination, information management, and administrative staff) is deployed within 7 days and additional support staff is deployed within two weeks (if necessary).
  • A standardized framework for deployment of technical surge is developed by June 2009.
  • All staff deployed to a new emergency with a personal deployment kit.
  • Seventy-five UNDAC members receive specialized training integrating the latest developments in humanitarian response/reform.

Greater Incorporation of Disaster Risk Reduction Approaches and Strengthened Preparedness in Humanitarian Response

One of OCHA’s core mission objectives is the promotion of preparedness and prevention. Both are fundamental to the implementation of efficient and effective emergency response and in minimizing the impact of disasters.

Accordingly, OCHA is increasingly focused on operational preparedness, which includes building the emergency response capacity of the humanitarian community through contingency planning and training; and on supporting institutional preparedness through engagement with national governments, strengthened legal frameworks and resource mobilization initiatives. In accordance with the principles outlined in the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005 – 2015 (HFA) and its fifth priority, Strengthen Disaster Preparedness for Effective Response at all Levels, OCHA aims to bring together preparedness initiatives at the international, regional and country levels with the emergency response and recovery activities of humanitarian organizations. Additionally, OCHA’s role in preparedness has been confirmed and strengthened by the humanitarian reform process, requiring an accountable response based on sound preparedness measures.

OCHA supports Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators to provide leadership in disaster risk reduction and preparedness efforts and provides technical advice on the use of disaster preparedness tools provided by OCHA and partners, including the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction (ISDR). In 2009, OCHA will be providing guidance materials and training specifically designed for humanitarian leaders.

In humanitarian crises, where OCHA has a field office, continuous inter-agency contingency planning serves as a basic preparedness tool for enhancing the overall in-country response capacity. More widely, OCHA regional offices will promote regional and sub-regional contingency plans; and support Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs) in countries without a permanent OCHA presence with inter-agency contingency planning processes.

OCHA works closely with Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) partners to promote the revised Inter-Agency Contingency Planning Guidelines, which encourages a multi-hazard approach to emergency preparedness. The Guidelines include preparations for cluster roll-out, partnership, leadership and accountability in humanitarian response. OCHA will continue to work closely with IASC partners, including the World Health Organization, to ensure that the humanitarian community, United Nations country teams and national governments are better prepared to mitigate the economic, humanitarian and social impacts of an influenza or other pandemic.

In crises transitioning to recovery, OCHA supports efforts to ensure that disaster risk reduction and preparedness is incorporated into country-level development frameworks, such as the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF) and nationally-prepared Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP).

In supporting national governments and strengthening institutional frameworks, OCHA will assist in the development and implementation of comprehensive national preparedness plans. It will share guidance materials developed by OCHA, such as the Guidance and Indicator Package for Implementing Priority Five of the Hyogo Framework and the OCHA Disaster Response Preparedness Toolkit.

OCHA will also continue to seek agreements with national governments to streamline logistical procedures for rapid response during emergencies, such as agreements in relation to customs facilitation. OCHA will promote the usage of agreed guidelines on international disaster response laws and principles, and incorporate them into training modules and guidance materials aimed at national authorities.

At the request of national governments, OCHA, in cooperation with UNDP and ISDR, will deploy United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) response preparedness missions in order to assess the capacity of a government to respond and to provide technical advice. OCHA brings together national, regional and international responders in familiarization sessions and workshops on international disaster response systems. OCHA also ensures that environmental expertise is part of the coordination arrangements. OCHA engages with national military forces and regional military organizations to strengthen procedures for use of military assets for disaster response in accordance with international guidelines. OCHA functions as the secretariat for the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), a global network of more than 80 countries and disaster response organizations dealing with urban search and rescue issues, including minimum requirements and guidelines.

At the global level, OCHA activities are prioritized using sound risk analysis and early warning, including environmental and social-political hazards. OCHA will continue to support the analysis of key factors relating to hazards, vulnerability and response capacities at the global, regional and national levels through the use of the OCHA Global Focus Model (GFM). The GFM is an internal tool, using 13 indicators to identify countries which combine high risk and vulnerability with low capacity.

OCHA contributes to global inter-agency risk analysis through recommendations made to the IASC Sub-Working Group on Contingency Planning and Preparedness in support of the quarterly IASC Early Warning - Early Action Report. The consolidated report provides IASC partners with situational analysis and the potential for changes in the level of international assistance likely to be required in the coming three month period.

At the global level, the Emergency Directors Meeting (EDM), co-chaired by OCHA, is a global forum for discussion of potential and deteriorating humanitarian emergencies. The EDM is attended by United Nations agencies and international humanitarian NGOs. In 2009, this forum will continue to meet quarterly and can be activated in the form of ad hoc teleconferences in the event of a sudden-onset disaster.

In 2009, OCHA will continue to be actively involved in various inter-agency mechanisms, including the Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI), a joint initiative of OCHA with UNDP; and with ISDR for capacity development on disaster risk reduction. OCHA will also be actively engaged with the United Nations Interdepartmental Framework for Coordination on Early Warning and Preventive Action, which brings together the various parts of the United Nations system to devise strategies for consolidating peace and building on national and civil society efforts in the field.

As policy debates intensify on climate change and its potential effects on migration, conflict and food security, OCHA will support the development of common policy approaches, in cooperation with ISDR, the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent and among IASC partners. Additionally, an advocacy campaign launched in late 2008 will continue to raise awareness of the humanitarian effects of climate change and call for a systemic shift of attention, resources and expertise to improve disaster preparedness in countries that suffer most from extreme weather events.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
Integrated approach to strengthening national preparedness enhanced, in accordance with Priority Five of the HFA.
  • At least two UNDAC Disaster Response Preparedness Missions undertaken.
  • Operational classification of international urban search and rescue teams with at least three Member States.
  • The Guidance and Indicator Package for Implementing Priority Five of the HFA rolled out in at least four countries.
National and regional response capacity enhanced through participation in and familiarization with international response networks.
  • Two regional familiarization workshops conducted for Member States on international response networks.
  • Forty Member States attending regional disaster response network meetings conducted by OCHA.
  • Forty-five Member States participating in international response networks in UNDAC and INSARAG.
  • Three regional military disaster response exercises supported by OCHA.
  • Four training courses conducted involving participation of national and regional military and humanitarian partners.
Customs procedures streamlined.
  • Two “Model Agreement on Customs Facilitation” signed with Member States.
Contingency plans updated. Strengthened country-level preparedness for an influenza pandemic.
  • All countries with Humanitarian Coordinator and 80 per cent of GFM priority countries have contingency planning processes based on IASC Contingency Planning Guidelines.
  • Forty pandemic influenza simulations at country level.

A Strategy Contributing to Seamless Transition and Early Recovery

The United Nations system has made substantial progress, following the humanitarian reforms launched three years ago, in advancing the coherence and predictability of humanitarian responses to emergencies and disasters. The system is, however, less assured in mounting a similarly coherent response in support of early recovery needs during an emergency and in the transition phase to support longer-term national recovery priorities.

For the United Nations system, many of the questions that surface in transition situations relate to the fluid nature of coordination needs, and who, in fact, should fulfil those needs. Ideally, as a transition moves forward, OCHA’s intervention should diminish with a corresponding move by government and development actors to assume the lead for coordination functions. Progress has been made by the Cluster Working Group on Early Recovery (CWGER), chaired by the United Nations Development Programme’s Bureau of Crisis Prevention and Recovery (UNDP/BCPR), to ensure that early recovery activities are included in planning and fundraising efforts at the outset of an emergency. However, the issue of phasing down and handing over coordination support functions provided by international humanitarian actors to national authorities and relevant development actors remains uneven. Discussions about transition are inextricably intertwined with discussions about the modalities to support early recovery and transition coordination, in addition to the phasing down and exit strategies of OCHA’s presence.

OCHA has a role to play in contributing to recovery from conflicts and natural disasters, but the dimensions of this role require greater definition.

In many situations, OCHA extends its functions to include coordination support for recovery activities, while working with partners to find appropriate arrangements for longer-term coordination support. At times, handover provisions are not predictable, and this can have financial and planning implications for OCHA. In the context of zero growth within OCHA, there can also be opportunity costs of maintaining a presence in a country beyond the emergency phase of a crisis.

The cornerstone of effective recovery coordination is the strategic planning process, aligning the United Nations Country Teams’ activities with national recovery priorities and with the activities of the other key international players, including the World Bank, through the Post-Conflict or Post-Disaster Needs Assessment processes. In this regard, the United Nations Development Operations Coordination Office (DOCO, formerly United Nations Development Group Office) has made strides to deploy strategic planners to support RC offices in countries undergoing transition. As OCHA plans to phase down several field operations in 2009, it will work closely with these colleagues and Humanitarian Country Team partners to ensure a joint analysis of the coordination support functions that need to continue in the recovery phase.

In 2009, OCHA will prioritize developing the necessary internal guidance and procedures to phase down field operations systematically and predictably in countries where this is relevant. This package will define OCHA’s corporate position on its role in early recovery and transition. It will provide clearer support to field offices that are in the process of phasing down and will enable them to plan and set benchmarks for future exit. Additionally, the guidance package can shape OCHA’s discussions with humanitarian, development and governmental partners so that expectations about OCHA’s role and responsibilities are clearer from the outset of the emergency. OCHA will consult with partners to ensure that its internal guidance is in line with the recommendations of the UNDGO, UNDP-BCPR and OCHA Joint Initiative on Strengthening Recovery Coordination, and is informed by ongoing discussions in other forums such as the United Nations Development Group/Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (UNDG/ECHA) Working Group on Transition and the Cluster Working Group on Early Recovery. The Secretary General’s Report on Early Recovery and Peace Building requested by the Security Council in May 2008, will also assist in shaping OCHA’s policies in regards to transition and early recovery.

Another key challenge for the United Nations system and its partners is the dearth of funding for activities that support early recovery and transition. Well established resource mobilization mechanisms exist to fund humanitarian action e.g., CERF, flash appeals, CAPs, etc., but the same is not true when it comes to mobilizing funds for early recovery or longer-term recovery programs. Such a situation can create gaps in assistance and coordination, which in turn hamper the effectiveness and sustainability of recovery efforts; and ultimately lead to a further dependency on humanitarian assistance and humanitarian coordination support services, planning and funding mechanisms.

The funding gap for early recovery and transition can inadvertently contribute to OCHA prolonging its presence in a country. Accordingly, OCHA has a strategic interest in working with development and donor partners to find solutions to this long-standing problem. In 2009 efforts will be placed on working with partners to define the extent to which existing humanitarian funding mechanisms can or should accommodate early recovery programming. OCHA will continue to advocate for faster, more flexible and more predictable financing for early recovery and transition activities. OCHA will remain engaged through the CWGER Early Recovery Financing Task Force and other forums, including the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHP) initiative, to continue donor liaison and advocacy, stressing the importance of applying the GHP Principles to early recovery and transition.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
OCHA’s corporate position on its role in early recovery and transition situations, and its benchmarks for phasing down operations, are clarified and communicated internally and to partners, and OCHA field offices are supported, as needed, to begin implementation.
  • Package of transition-focused guidance agreed by OCHA senior management by June 2009.
  • All field offices operating in priority transitional settings (Côte d’Ivoire, Nepal, Myanmar, and Uganda) have a phase-down and exit strategy based on agreed guidance.
  • For all other field offices, including new offices established in 2009, annual work plans (2010) incorporate initial benchmarks on phase-down and exit strategy.
More predictable and systematic coordination arrangements for early recovery and recovery at the country level are established in a timely manner.
  • Standard procedures for consultations between OCHA UNDP/BCPR and DOCO desks (or equivalent) at Headquarters level developed and implemented by December 2009.
  • IASC Working Group presented with proposed operational guidance on cluster phase-out or handover to national structures and development actors by December 2009.
Review of existing humanitarian planning mechanisms (consolidated and flash appeals) and funding mechanisms (CERF, Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), Emergency Relief Fund) as planning and resource mobilization tools for early recovery and longer-term recovery activities.
  • Dissemination of an outline of planning and funding tools that provides guidance on which instrument is most appropriate for a given situation by June 2009.
  • Development of guidance and submission to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee for endorsement, regulating early recovery and recovery in consolidated appeals (guidance already exists for flash appeals) by June 2009.
  • Forthcoming review of CHFs to include a thorough analysis of use and impact of CHFs to fund early recovery activities and informing future policy and guidance by December 2009.