OCHA in 2009 Cover

Goal Two:

Recognized OCHA Leading Role in Humanitarian Policy, Advocacy and Information Management

Action-oriented Analysis of Humanitarian Trends and Emerging Policy Issues

In order to promote more effective decision-making by senior management and ensure that lessons learned, best practices, analysis and general guidance are efficiently incorporated into global, regional and country-specific policies, OCHA aims to strengthen its intellectual leadership in humanitarian policy and advocacy. OCHA will enhance efforts to identify emerging humanitarian policies and trends through more systematic cooperation with United Nations and non-humanitarian partners, including Member States, regional organizations and the academic community. These partnerships will broaden support for the development of common policy positions and their inclusion in guidance and analytical tools for use in emergency response. Such partnerships will also inform OCHA’s efforts to prioritize the policy issues that would need to be addressed.

Humanitarian policy development in 2009 will look beyond conventional emergencies arising from conflict or natural disasters and take into account the variety of emerging trends and diverse players participating in humanitarian action. Interrelated global challenges and trends such as the food crisis, financial crisis, energy crisis, resource scarcity, climate change and population growth amongst others are altering the landscape in which OCHA and humanitarian actors operate. In order for OCHA to be able adapt to these circumstances, and bearing in mind the Emergency Relief Coordinator’s five-year perspective presented in 2007, OCHA will support critical research and analysis, and build partnerships, to assess how these structural challenges will affect humanitarian action. Consequently, OCHA will be in a better position to address new operational realities. OCHA has also identified a number of specific policy issues that will form the basis of its initial policy research agenda. These include a comprehensive study on Provincial Reconstruction Teams – the civil-military entities engaged in stabilization activities – most notably in Afghanistan and Iraq. The study will seek to identify more clearly the impact they have on principled humanitarian action in the field. Studies will also be conducted on the plight of older people, livelihoods in crisis settings and gender-based violence, including sexual violence in conflict. In addition, recommendations from studies completed in 2008, such as the study on OCHA’s coordination role in slow-onset disasters, will be integrated into ongoing operations.

Studies and research will improve OCHA’s support to Member States as well as enhance the quality of its regular reporting to intergovernmental bodies such as the General Assembly and the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). OCHA will aim to provide Member States with clear analyses of the challenges faced by humanitarian partners in their efforts to support multilateral responses. Studies and policies developed will also help promote optimum interaction between humanitarian actors and political and peacekeeping actors and will inform the planning and design of country specific humanitarian coordination models that would ensure principled humanitarian action. Finally, research and evaluations will support a better understanding of humanitarian financing – which is of particular importance to OCHA as it seeks to ensure a more predictable and accountable response to crises Inter-agency forums will be essential for translating policies and analyses into action. In 2009, the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs and the Inter-Agency Standing Committee will focus on the themes of humanitarian reform, principled humanitarian action, access, and the global challenges of climate change, migration, displacement and the food crisis. These committees will ensure that policy recommendations related to these and other pivotal themes are effectively communicated to the field and integrated in the response plans developed under the lead of Humanitarian Coordinators.

OCHA will analyze policy developments within regional organizations as they pertain to humanitarian action. Of particular importance are policies on the protection of civilians that arise in the context of peace support operations undertaken by regional organizations. OCHA will target its intervention with regional organizations in areas related to mission planning and on the development of humanitarian related policies and frameworks. Working with the African Union, OCHA will establish a policy dialogue on institutional arrangements with humanitarian actors that allow for strategic coherence of AU missions while respecting humanitarian principles.

OCHA’s efforts to strengthen information management and advocacy will complement the focus on analysis and trends by creating and disseminating information products on humanitarian-related issues at the international, regional and national levels. In addition to its news-gathering function, the Integrated Regional Information Networks (www.irinnews.org) and PlusNews (www.plusnews.org) will examine and analyze key issues and concerns on humanitarian events in Africa, the Middle East and Asia with a particular focus on emerging or neglected crises and HIV/AIDS. IRIN’s editorial direction and management will ensure that reporting in 2009 will be relevant to its core humanitarian readership and offer fresh insight for a wider audience. This commitment to a multi-lingual and multi-media output will underpin humanitarian analyses and will contribute to informed and timely decision-making by all stakeholders.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
A prioritized policy research agenda on current issues affecting humanitarian action.
  • One expert forum and policy paper on the implications of today’s global challenges for humanitarian caseloads and operations.
  • Four specific studies and one thematic review completed and disseminated.
Lessons learned and best practices, analyses and general guidance on humanitarian policy consideration converted into country specific policies and planning inputs.
  • Seventy-five per cent of policy recommendations relevant to OCHA incorporated into plans and coordination models.
Secretary-General reports reflect key humanitarian priorities and concerns.
  • Three policy priorities promoted and 75 per cent policy priorities endorsed at the inter-agency level are reflected in inter-governmental reporting and activities.

More Strategic Advocacy of Humanitarian Principles and Issues

OCHA’s primary advocacy goal is to speak out on behalf of people affected by humanitarian crises worldwide, to promote the protection of civilians, to prevent displacement wherever possible, and to maximize the efficiency of the humanitarian response. The Under-Secretary-General (USG), senior managers and staff at headquarters will raise awareness on humanitarian concerns and policies, and will further promote respect for humanitarian principles through systematic engagement with counterparts in the UN Secretariat, Member States, regional organizations and other key stakeholders that include inter-governmental (General Assembly and Economic and Social Council) and Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) actors. The USG will be responsible for determining overall policy and advocacy objectives and, with the support of OCHA’s senior management, will ensure advocacy messages are integrated across initiatives at headquarters and in the field. To further the global discussion on disasters, OCHA will initiate quarterly Member State briefings for delegates in Geneva in 2009 on disaster trends, emerging preparedness systems and disaster policy issues.

2009 will see the roll out of three major advocacy campaigns – on internally displaced persons (IDPs); on the implications of climate change for humanitarian action; and on gender-based violence, including sexual violence. The campaigns are intended to equip OCHA staff and partners at all levels to speak authoritatively on these priorities. Targeted not only to raise awareness but also to effect positive change, the campaigns were developed in cooperation with humanitarian partners and have been designed to take full advantage of OCHA’s multi-media capacity. The campaigns will exploit the Integrated Regional Information Network’s (IRIN) geographic positioning and diverse audio-visual services. IRIN, OCHA’s humanitarian news and analysis service, will produce high quality content on humanitarian concerns and trends, reflecting, where possible, OCHA strategic priorities to help reinforce awareness-raising and advocacy efforts. IRIN will produce more audio-visual content and enhance website navigation, presentation and usability. New media products will include multi-media presentations, video shorts, improved maps and info-graphics.

ReliefWeb, OCHA’s platform for sharing humanitarian information on natural disasters and complex emergencies, will continue to act as a community-wide vehicle for advocacy on emerging crises in a timely and reliable manner. In 2009, ReliefWeb will enhance its products to better support advocacy for OCHA's strategic priorities as well as highlight under-reported situations through improved user experience, rigorous selection and framing of issues, maps and other visual products.

In field and regional offices, Resident Coordinators, Humanitarian Coordinators and OCHA teams will continue to voice concerns on civilians affected by conflict or natural disaster, raise awareness of their needs and advocate for appropriate action with local, national or international actors. In particular, OCHA will continue to encourage Member States and parties to armed conflict to respect and protect civilian populations in accordance with international humanitarian law, to ensure the safety and security of aid workers and to allow and facilitate access to affected populations for the delivery humanitarian assistance.

In 2009, field staff will receive specialized training to bolster required skills in public information and advocacy and to deepen understanding of a variety of related issues, including the humanitarian reform process, international humanitarian law and the protection of civilians.

OCHA regional offices, field offices and Regional Disaster Response Advisers will be supported in developing advocacy action plans in order to increase awareness of humanitarian principles in accordance with standard OCHA policy guidance. These action plans will be developed in cooperation with relevant humanitarian partners to ensure complementary messaging. They will seek to establish common action-oriented advocacy activities for the year, as well as ensure that inclusive mechanisms for coordinated inter-organizational advocacy are established and working at all levels and that common messaging is endorsed by RCs and HCs. While priorities will vary according to local circumstance, OCHA will foster a more strategic and “corporate” approach to advocating on major principles and themes. Field office lessons learned and best practices will be captured by OCHA throughout the year and widely disseminated.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
Advocacy on behalf of affected populations.
  • Media and Communications Campaigns on IDPs, climate change and gender-based sexual violence launched in at least 40 countries.
  • At least three Security Council briefings by the ERC or DERC.
  • At least four op-ed articles in major publications by the ERC or DERC.
  • Three campaign web specials on OCHA On Line each with photo galleries, key messages, case studies, interactive content and direct links to relevant policy documents and guidance launched.
  • At least 20 multi-media products developed (videos, websites, etc.) in promoting advocacy on emerging priority issues (in addition to materials developed for campaigns).
Common advocacy messages for the Under-Secretary-General, RCs and HCs, the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs and IASC agreed upon and widely disseminated.
  • At least four common key messages endorsed by IASC Principals.
  • At least 10 OCHA country key messages endorsed by priority country RCs and HCs.
  • At least eight common key messages endorsed by ECHA.
Support to advocacy on humanitarian issues and principles.
  • At least two public information/strategic communication trainings undertaken.
  • At least six advocacy strategies and action plans developed at regional and country levels.
Greater alignment of IRIN coverage with OCHA geographic and thematic priorities, reinforcing awareness-raising and advocacy activities.
  • At least four IRIN “in-depth reports" and four short films on major themes (such as food security, climate change and humanitarian reform) reflecting OCHA priorities.
Production of high quality video and still images in support of advocacy efforts.
  • Video capacity and photo gallery established and functioning in Nairobi.
  • OCHA stock photo library established by December 2009.

Advocacy in Action

Internal Displacement

In 2009, in accordance with the ERC’s mandate for strengthening the inter-agency response to internal displacement, OCHA will continue its comprehensive advocacy campaign on internal displacement launched in late 2008. OCHA will work at the global, regional and national levels to raise awareness of the multiple causes of displacement (including conflict, natural disasters, climate change, urbanization and development projects), the scale of the problem, the plight of those displaced and what needs to be done to support them. In particular, OCHA will aim to strengthen prevention of displacement through increased adherence to international humanitarian and human rights law. OCHA will work with key partners, including UNHCR, the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of IDPs, and the Norwegian Refugee Council.

Climate Change

The second campaign will enable OCHA and partners to communicate better on the humanitarian implications of climate change and to advocate for significant improvement to disaster preparedness in ‘hotspot’ countries that are most vulnerable to floods, storms and droughts. Launched in late 2008, the campaign will highlight examples of best practice in preparedness from the Mozambique flood response of 2007. Other country case studies will be added in the course of 2009. Audio-visual materials produced in support of the campaign, including film trailers, online slideshows, photo galleries, video shorts and other resources, will be publicly available. OCHA will consult with its field offices and humanitarian partners to identify opportunities to promote the campaign position to target audiences. Careful monitoring of the campaign progress will determine the extent to which it has raised awareness of the impact of climate change and the urgent need for a greater commitment to disaster preparedness in risk-prone countries.

Sexual violence

To highlight Gender-Based Sexual Violence (GBSV), OCHA will spearhead a global campaign in support of the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign to End Violence Against Women. The campaign will be launched in 2009 in at least 40 countries using visual aids to demonstrate a world united against GBSV. A new campaign logo will also be introduced. The campaign will be supported world-wide by UN partners at headquarters level as well as in-country by Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators and UN Country Teams, NGOs and related groups. It will link to existing on-the-ground initiatives and programmes.

A Common Approach to Needs Assessments and Impact Evaluation

The ability of humanitarian agencies to alleviate human suffering depends on the degree to which they can correctly assess the needs of disaster-affected populations. This is also essential to enable effective needs-based humanitarian financing. In 2009, OCHA will improve common needs assessment by following a two-track approach of harmonization and consolidation. A recent mapping and analysis exercise led by OCHA and complemented by consultations with Inter-agency Standing Committee (IASC) members and technical experts indicated the urgency of harmonizing the various field assessment and sectoral information consolidation initiatives. OCHA will support the harmonization process through the sharing of best practices and the development of guidance on multi-sectoral field assessment processes. This will include the use of an online “tool box” of needs assessment resources. To improve the evidence base for decision-making, OCHA is also developing a tool to consolidate data into a central real time document or webpage that will serve as a “humanitarian dashboard” at the big picture level. OCHA will pilot this tool in a number of countries in 2009.

The mapping exercise documented numerous, mainly sector-specific assessment initiatives that use a variety of indicators and methods. There is, therefore, a need to improve clarity on what type of minimum information and indicators are required or can be realistically obtained at different points over the emergency timeline. A related issue involves the development of multi-sectoral assessment tools and approaches, as illustrated in Georgia, where country teams lost valuable time in developing a common assessment tool. This could be supported by identifying and sharing best practices for multi-sectoral field assessment, for example, the Multi-Cluster Rapid Assessment Mechanism developed in Pakistan, as well as through technical guidance. Similarly, OCHA could serve a useful role in identifying best practices in sectoral information consolidation, such as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification initially developed by the Food and Agricultural Organization for Somalia and now being piloted in numerous countries.

Consultations with key stakeholders clearly indicated the necessity for a multi-sectoral tool to consolidate core and common humanitarian information for decision-makers. An important multi-stakeholder workshop held by OCHA in November 2008 and a subsequent meeting of the IASC Working Group confirmed interest in and need for such a tool. A prototype developed by OCHA will be piloted during humanitarian responses throughout 2009.

The tool will, unlike the Needs Analysis Framework, present core information on an emergency in a standardised manner. Ideally, data will be given in a single-page format or electronically (linked to supporting documentation), to make it easily comparable with other emergencies. It will be updated continually throughout the phasing of a humanitarian response and will include severity classification qualified by clearly specified confidence-levels. It will be underpinned by an information management system that provides a direct link to detailed needs assessment and other humanitarian information. The tool will provide an overview of key aspects of a humanitarian crisis such as needs, response gaps, pre-crisis vulnerability, national capacity, humanitarian access and funding. This will aid in a shared understanding of the severity of a crisis, the identification of priority geographical areas and sectors for intervention, and better prioritization of humanitarian resources across emergencies. The tool will be targeted principally at high-level agency decision-makers and donors.

In 2008, the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) requested that estimates be provided of the severity of natural disasters within 72 hours after their onset. OCHA developed a consolidation tool, known as the Rough Severity Estimation Tool (RSET) for its internal use. This differs from the proposed multi-sectoral tool in that it is limited to natural disasters, is not updated in real time, does not link to an information management system and takes into account only information required by the ERC. Piloting of the RSET will continue into 2009.

Building on its work to identify key indicators, OCHA will facilitate a common approach to impact evaluation by developing a stronger monitoring and evaluation framework for assessing impact across humanitarian sectors. Questions as to whether humanitarian assistance works and why it works is of interest to a broad range of stakeholders within the humanitarian system. Humanitarian actors need to be aware of when they do maximum good as well as when they “do no harm”.

While many humanitarian organizations commit themselves to impact evaluation and include it in their guidelines, meaningful impact evaluation continues to prove elusive. Within the humanitarian system, different actors define their work and the intended impact differently. Data collection activities are difficult to organize and undertake in crisis situations. There is limited consensus about what impact evaluations should measure in terms of effects; what they should be trying to achieve in terms of accountability to donors and beneficiaries; or what is necessary to improve humanitarian interventions.

OCHA will make use of its convening role to build a stronger monitoring and evaluation framework for assessing impact across the humanitarian sector. Accordingly, the contribution of humanitarian reforms towards improved operational performance and impact across the humanitarian sector is of particular concern.

The second Cluster Evaluation, to be conducted in 2009, will help build a sector-wide framework for evaluating the impact of the cluster approach. Mandated by the IASC and managed by OCHA, the evaluation will produce a common impact assessment framework, which will be used to assess operational effectiveness and results in six countries. The framework will produce a common set of indicators for assessing the impact of clusters. Both the evaluation’s common analytical framework and its recommendations can be used to improve the impact of clusters and promote better quality, consistency and convergence of monitoring and evaluation related work across the humanitarian sector.

During 2009, new processes within OCHA for improved evaluation planning, coverage and use will be implemented. These measures will improve the organization’s evaluation capacity and further strengthen the quality of its annual performance reporting on results and impact. OCHA’s activities in 2009 to harmonize assessment tools and approaches and to consolidate core humanitarian information at the multi-sectoral level promise to have positive benefits for impact evaluation. If common approaches are used over time to track key indicators on the severity and effects of emergency situations, they will facilitate monitoring and evaluation efforts within the sector, including those directed at evaluating the impact of humanitarian coordination efforts. Needs assessments and related information consolidation systems will also ultimately improve humanitarian decision-making within OCHA and at the broader inter-agency level, leading to more effective humanitarian action.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
Needs assessment and other core humanitarian information better consolidated at the multi-sectoral level for enhanced decision-making and humanitarian action.
  • A working version of a multi-sectoral information consolidation tool is developed through piloting in four to six countries in consultation with partners.
Assessment initiatives and processes further harmonized for more effective inter-sectoral field assessments and improved sectoral information consolidation.
  • Best practice examples and guidance (two documents) provided to partners and OCHA staff to facilitate improved multi-sectoral assessments and sectoral information consolidation.
Common evaluation framework for assessing the results and impact of the cluster approach.
  • Common set of cluster assessment and impact indicators for all clusters developed by the end of 2009.

Protection Advanced at Global, Regional and National Level

The protection of civilians in conflict and disaster situations is a humanitarian imperative and central to all of OCHA’s core functions – advocacy and information management; resource mobilization; response coordination; and policy development. Throughout the world, millions of civilians continue to suffer abuse and discrimination in situations of internal strife and war. The growing impact of natural disasters has also brought to the forefront the challenge of protecting the rights of the affected populations.

In 2009 OCHA intends to deepen its engagement with the Security Council on the protection of civilians by the systematic consideration of protection civilians concerns in Security Council deliberations and resolutions. This will be achieved through an informal Expert Group of the Security Council which will enable OCHA to bring to the attention of Council members key protection challenges in particular contexts and suggest specific action in response when establishing or renewing the mandates of peacekeeping or other missions. The Council’s consideration of protection concerns will be facilitated by an updated version of the Aide Memoire for the Consideration of Issues pertaining to the Protection of Civilians, elaborated by OCHA. The findings of the independent study jointly commissioned by OCHA and DPKO on implementation of protection of civilians mandates will also enable OCHA and other relevant actors to make such mandates a more effective tool for enhancing protection on the ground. Finally, OCHA’s work to harmonize and enhance the quality of monitoring and reporting on access constraints will enable it to bring this key impediment to humanitarian action to the attention of the Council in a more focused and systematic manner and deepen the Council’s understanding of these constraints and its efforts to respond.

OCHA, in partnership with the United Nations Action against Sexual Violence in Conflict, will continue to play an important advocacy and coordination role to improve the prevention and the response to gender-based violence, including sexual violence.

As co-chair of the Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse (PSEA), which brings together the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs, the Executive Committee on Peace and Security, and NGOs, OCHA will support the development of a guidance package for PSEA focal points covering the development of complaints mechanisms, the provision of assistance to victims and the training of focal points and managers.

In order to strengthen inter-agency capacity on protection in humanitarian crises, OCHA will provide direct support to the global protection cluster and, through the global cluster, to field-based clusters.

In this regard, OCHA will continue to work with the Protection Capacity Standby Project (ProCap) to provide immediate protection capacity at the height of a crisis and increase deployable capacity through training for NGO standby partners. OCHA will host and support the management of the Gender Standby Capacity (GenCap) which, in 2009, aims to deploy to requesting countries where the cluster system is already in place to support coordination and capacity building on gender equality programming. Gender-based violence, including sexual violence, will be addressed in these programming activities.

OCHA will seek to raise awareness of protection issues arising in natural disasters, including those that arise as a consequence of climate change. In particular, OCHA will provide field guidance and advice, including the revision of the Operational Guidelines on Human Rights in Natural Disasters, and strengthen the global capacity to respond, through ensuring appropriate arrangements for predictable leadership of protection in natural disasters.

At the regional level, with the objective of establishing a more systematic policy and operational dialogue, OCHA will strengthen its engagement with regional inter-governmental organizations including the African Union (AU), the European Union (EU), the Economic Community of Western African States and the League of Arab States. OCHA also plans to continue its dialogue with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to promote integration of protection concerns and appropriate responses in their operational and policy activities. Measures to achieve this will include providing, in collaboration with the OCHA liaison office to the AU, targeted support to the AU on regional peace-keeping mechanisms, and the Special Summit on Forced Displacement in Africa, providing capacity support to AU humanitarian entities. OCHA will also engage more systematically with the different components of the EU to streamline humanitarian concerns, including through the Action Plan for the implementation of the EU Consensus on Humanitarian Aid.

Support will also be provided to OCHA regional offices to strengthen regional protection capacity and, where appropriate, develop regional protection strategies. This will include efforts to mainstream protection in the Regional Office for Asia and Pacific’s emergency response and preparedness strategies; supporting the Regional Office for Southern Africa on review of protection response to the May 2008 xenophobic attacks in South Africa and incorporating protection in the regional contingency planning and preparedness process; and holding a regional protection workshop with the Regional Office for the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia and supporting protection strategy development in disaster and conflict countries in that region.

At the national level, in line with OCHA’s Policy Instruction on Supporting Protection, OCHA will work to ensure a strengthened inter-agency response to protection concerns in complex emergencies and natural disasters. This will include the provision of guidance and surge support (including deployment of ProCap Senior Protection Officers) to Humanitarian Coordinators (HC), Humanitarian Country Teams and the protection clusters. OCHA will also endeavour to mainstream protection principles in the work of the other clusters. Efforts will also target strengthening the capacity of field offices to support protection, assist in the development of appropriate inter-agency protection prevention and response strategies and strengthen protection preparedness in contingency planning.

An additional priority for 2009 will be ensuring systematic monitoring and reporting on humanitarian access in situations of armed conflict through the use of a standardized framework. In countries with on-going armed conflict, including Iraq, Somalia, Sri Lanka and Sudan, OCHA field offices, seeking to develop a better understanding of access constraints and how to address them, will be supported in the development of monitoring and reporting mechanisms and the means to address access constraints in conjunction with HCTs. The information generated will form the basis for a report on trends in humanitarian access for submission to the Security Council by mid-2009. By the end of 2009, a standardized approach to access monitoring and reporting will have been finalized for additional field level roll-out.

OCHA will work with HCs in countries with peace support missions to ensure that inter-agency networks are established and actively working to protect at risk populations from sexual exploitation and abuse by UN, inter-governmental and NGO personnel. OCHA will also develop a mechanism to monitor compliance with United Nations rules on PSEA to be rolled out at country level by 2009 and deliver training on PSEA to focal points and managers.

Since the Secretary-General’s first report on the protection of civilians in 1999, significant progress has been made in developing and mainstreaming the protection of civilians agenda. Almost ten years on, the key challenge is to turn this normative framework into enhanced protection on the ground, by means of more systematic and institutionalized interaction with Member States, regional organizations, OCHA’s field offices and humanitarian partners.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
Security Council actively and systematically engaged on protection of civilians issues.
  • Meetings of the Security Council Protection of Civilians Expert Group are held before the establishment or renewal of all peacekeeping and other missions.
  • Protection of Civilians Aide Memoire applied by the Security Council in 75 per cent of its discussions of conflict-affected countries.
Systematic monitoring and reporting on constraints to humanitarian access and informing Security Council consideration of situations of grave concern as well as operational strategies of humanitarian organizations to address constraints on access.
  • Use of access monitoring and reporting framework and database in six pilot countries. Report on trends in humanitarian access submitted to the Security Council by June 2009.
Support for strengthened inter-agency response to protection in humanitarian crises.
  • Technical advice, guidance and surge support provided to OCHA field offices, HCs and HCTs in Afghanistan, Chad, Iraq, Kenya, occupied Palestinian territories, Sri Lanka, Sudan and Zimbabwe.
  • Fifteen ProCap Senior Protection Officers and 20 GenCap Officers deployed to support field level responses.
  • ProCap skills-based protection training provided to 100 members of NGO standby rosters.
Targeted field support for PSEA is provided, including mechanism for monitoring compliance with United Nations rules on SEA and for assessing and monitoring implementation of United Nations SEA-related policies.
  • PSEA inter-agency network is active in at least five countries.
  • Fifteen countries participating in SEA compliance mechanism.
  • Focal point guidance package produced by end of 2009.
Improved integration of protection of civilians concerns in relevant policy and operational activities of key regional organizations. Targeted support provided to protection of civilians initiatives by key regional organizations.
  • Two consultations organized with regional organizations to establish a systematic dialogue on protection of civilians issues.

Strengthened Information Management Based on Common Standards and Best Practices

There has been notable progress in recent years in the management of humanitarian information; however, challenges within information management continue to limit the effectiveness of decision-making in the humanitarian arena. OCHA continues its efforts to introduce standards and best practices, yet the sharing of information within the humanitarian sector remains largely voluntary and based on goodwill. Information and data are not standardized and are rarely presented in a manner designed to enhance effective decision-making. Consequently, decision-makers and other end-users grapple with information overload, incompatible technology, and competing formats, policies and mandates.

To address these challenges, OCHA will strengthen the global coordination of humanitarian information management by working with humanitarian partners to formalize further inter-agency information management collaboration. Common standards negotiated and agreed upon will lead to more effective information exchange and greater inter-operability of data within and across clusters, including geographic and map standards and the definition of minimal operational datasets. This will involve implementing, monitoring and evaluating the Inter-agency Standing Committee (IASC) Operational Guidance on Responsibilities of Cluster/Sector Leads and OCHA in Information Management, which clearly articulates the roles and responsibilities of humanitarian agencies under the auspices of clusters and the inter-cluster role of OCHA.

Moreover, there is a pressing need to reach inter-agency agreement on the development and use of shared information tools and collaborative platforms, which will support the operationalization of the guidance note. The cluster approach presents a good opportunity for improving management of operational information at the field level. In cooperation with humanitarian partners, OCHA will develop a humanitarian coordination website for improved information exchange in support of clusters in natural disasters and emergencies.

OCHA’s information products will be updated and a unifying visual design introduced. The initial focus will be on a number of core products including situation reports, press releases, and key messages. Regular weekly reporting will be expected from Regional and Field Offices and from that a weekly humanitarian highlights report will be compiled and distributed to external audiences.

OCHA will focus on improving the level of its reporting by standardizing reporting practices. Based on this standardization, OCHA will build a knowledge base of key facts and indicators, which will enable better system-wide humanitarian analysis, coordination, resource mobilization and advocacy. A mentoring programme will be established, as will a roster of top level reporting officers for surge capacity.

OCHA will upgrade its existing website to a one-stop shop portal in 2009 to ensure a coherent and corporate online presence. The portal will better support advocacy, policy and coordination initiatives and will provide partners with access to the full range of information services, tools and web presences. Quality control will be maintained with common web policies and guidance and with the provision of web support services.

In 2009, ReliefWeb will continue to provide its core services while strengthening its editorial oversight and adopting new online and networking technologies. New products and services based on extensive user research will ensure that content remains relevant to a global audience.

Key outputs and indicators

Outputs Indicators
Global information management coordination processes established and led by OCHA.
  • Inter-agency agreement on the Operational Guidance on Responsibilities of Cluster/Sector Leads and OCHA in Information Management is operational in at least 50% of countries with a Humanitarian Coordinator.
  • Training materials produced to support implementation of the guidance.
  • An information platform is launched for the exchange of in-country emergency or disaster information by cluster information management focal points in all new emergencies.
  • Adoption of cartographic standards and agreement on minimal operational datasets improve quality and reliability of mapping and graphic products produced by and for cluster partners.
OCHA's policy and standards for managing information developed to better serve decision makers and inter-agency coordination.
  • Guidance developed for targeting, storage, management and retrieval of information, business records and publications by the third quarter 2009.
  • Corporate taxonomy developed and implemented by the third quarter 2009.
OCHA's policy and standards for humanitarian reporting developed.
  • Humanitarian Reporting Handbook produced by first quarter 2009.
  • Common visual design, templates and content guidelines adopted for OCHA core information products by first quarter 2009.
  • Training and mentoring programme established during the first quarter 2009.
Humanitarian Coordination Website implemented in support of global and country-level operational partners.
  • Global website introduced; including previous content from humanitarian reform website and the Humanitarian Information Centre website launched by January 2009.
  • Two countries with country-level sites.