Regional Office for Asia and the Pacifichttp://ochaonline.un.org/roap
The Asia-Pacific region is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters, including recurrent, sudden-onset and gradual-onset threats. These events have become more frequent and severe, worsened by the effects of climate change and a growing population density. This was most dramatically illustrated when Cyclone Nargis struck the coastal areas of Myanmar in May 2008. Additionally, the region’s vulnerability to outbreaks of infectious diseases, including avian influenza and the potential for a human pandemic remains a pressing concern; and the humanitarian community continues to grapple with existing and evolving complex emergencies and protection issues.
The Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) is based in Thailand and spans 37 countries and 14 territories. The Office has oversight for the office of the Regional Disaster Response Adviser for the Pacific, based in Fiji; as well as OCHA presences based in Pakistan, Philippines, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. The primary role of the Regional Office is to provide technical support to Country Teams in the region which do not have a permanent OCHA presence. Through regional level coordination platforms, ROAP reinforces emergency response and preparedness activities in the region and supports humanitarian action undertaken by Governments, Inter-agency Standing Committee (IASC) partners and other stakeholders. In addition, the Regional Office backstops the work of the OCHA field offices in Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
ROAP maintains a high level of readiness to provide surge support in response to sudden-onset disasters with a team of regional disaster management professionals on standby – ready to respond to requests of governments, Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators. In 2009, ROAP will strengthen its ability to deploy surge capacity at short notice through training of all staff in the office and, in line with global OCHA efforts, the establishment of a regional duty officer system.
To complement surge deployments, ROAP will take a vigorous approach to emergency response preparedness in the region by supporting contingency planning, capacity building, training and United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) preparedness missions. In 2009, ROAP will continue to mainstream an “all-hazard approach” to disaster management through involvement with country-level contingency planning and preparedness activities, including the integration of tools developed under the umbrella of humanitarian reform, such as CERF and the roll-out of the cluster approach. ROAP will support these initiatives through the training of IASC partners in data preparedness and the development of minimum baseline datasets. ROAP will also continue to update its “Preparedness Matrix” illustrating key information on levels of preparedness in countries in the region.
Furthermore, ROAP continues to work closely with United Nations Development Programme/Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery and United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Secretariat to develop and strengthen disaster risk reduction capacities and institutional and operational infrastructure for national disaster preparedness, such as the national capacities for tsunami early warning and response systems in the Indian Ocean. In Fiji, the ISDR sub-regional representative will be co-located with OCHA.
In 2009, ROAP will be one of two OCHA regional offices, working with OCHA headquarters, to pilot the development of a needs assessment tool that consolidates core information on humanitarian situations into an accessible and meaningful format.
A key activity of ROAP in 2009 will be to build upon evolving partnerships with governments and regional organizations including the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC).
Key Objectives, Outputs and Indicators
Regional Disaster Response Adviser
The Pacific region is susceptible to a broad range of natural hazards, including earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, cyclones, floods and droughts. Small island nations and their populations are spread across a vast area. Challenges they face include limited local capacity to cope with and manage disasters, logistical and communications constraints, timely access to affected communities and high operational costs.
The Regional Disaster Response Advisor based in Fiji provides support to 14 Pacific island countries, including two United Nations Resident Coordinators. Through the RDRA, OCHA focuses on preparedness and early response to natural disasters. Factors contributing to complex emergencies also exist in a number of countries closely monitored by the RDRA, although in 2008 the region has experienced few emergencies of this type. The RDRA office has initiated a process of sub-regional inter-agency contingency planning for humanitarian assistance, which was endorsed by all major humanitarian partners. This partnership framework will be used as a basis for strengthened sub-regional disaster preparedness through the establishment of priority clusters, as well as inter-agency preparedness planning at the national level in priority countries. In 2009, the RDRA Office will support this process in a number of ways, most notably by assisting with information management and inter-cluster coordination and by continuously advocating for the implementation of the cluster approach at the regional level.