Regional Office for Asia and the Pacifichttp://ochaonline.un.org/roap
- Asia and the Pacific remains the world’s most natural disaster-prone region. Between 2000 and 2008, 40% of registered disaster events occurred in this region, affecting millions of people.
- In September and October 2009, Typhoons Ketsana and Parma struck areas of the Philippines, Vietnam, Lao PDR and Cambodia. Meanwhile, Indonesia and Bhutan experienced the deadly effects of earthquakes, and Samoa was hit by a devastating tsunami.
- Increasingly frequent and severe, natural disasters often strike simultaneously. This severely stretches national capacities and requires a coordinated response.
- The region is also increasingly exposed to new and emerging threats, such as an influenza pandemic. Conditions in the region make it a possible flash point for new and potentially deadly pandemic virus mutations.
The Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) is based in Thailand and covers 36 countries and 14 territories, with oversight for the Sub-Regional Office (SRO) for the Pacific in Fiji and the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Humanitarian Support Unit (HSU) in Papua New Guinea. The primary role of the regional office (RO) is to support country teams in the region that do not have a local OCHA presence with the coordination of humanitarian response.
To respond rapidly to an emergency, ROAP maintains a team of trained disaster management professionals able to deploy at the request of governments and Resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs/HCs). When deployed, the ROAP team calls forward a suite of services in support of cluster coordination and the use of humanitarian financing tools Central Emergency Response Fund [CERF], Flash Appeals and Consolidated Appeals [CAs]). It provides assistance on information management (IM), public information and civil-military coordination. In addition, ROAP backstops the work of OCHA COs in Indonesia, Myanmar, Nepal, Philippines and Sri Lanka by providing surge capacity, training and technical support.
Practically, ROAP will directly support national governments, regional organizations and networks, inter-agency partners, and other stakeholders in response and response preparedness. Therefore in 2010, ROAP will continue to strengthen its surge capacity, including by supporting the development of benchmarks to determine how OCHA engagement should be initiated, scaled up, and finally scaled down. ROAP will also carry out periodic reviews of its performance in response to requests for assistance over the course of 2010.
Building on the existing Regional Inter-Agency Network and the Regional Director Teams (RDTs), ROAP will seek to engage a broader range of operational actors, including non-traditional partners such as national NGOs and the private sector. To improve capacity for humanitarian coordination at the country level, ROAP will also continue to work in support of humanitarian coordination leaders in the region. This will include appraising their level of awareness of the cluster approach and key humanitarian response tools, and providing training to fill identified gaps. In this context, ROAP will continue to support governments and country teams with contingency planning, capacity-building, training and United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) preparedness missions in the region.
Surge Deployments and Technical Support Measured in Staff Days
A total fo 830 staff days were spent on surge deployments or technical support missions in 19 countries between January and mid-October, 2009.
Finally, ROAP will build upon evolving partnerships with regional entities such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and the Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) to strengthen preparedness and response capacity within these important bodies, as well as the region as a whole.
Sub-Regional Office Fiji
The Pacific region is vulnerable to a range of natural hazards. The region is also severely affected by new and emerging trends, including the fuel, food and financial crises and climate change. Ensuring effective international response is a challenge given that: (i) small populations live on a large number of islands spread across a vast area; and, (ii) response agencies operate from a variety of external bases. In this context of widespread and deepening vulnerability, OCHA is mandated to strengthen and support humanitarian coordination across the region.
SRO Fiji provides support to 14 Pacific island countries, as well as two RCs. In 2008, the OCHA SRO initiated a process of increased collaboration between humanitarian organizations in the Pacific, which included the establishment of an inter-agency Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) to provide the framework for strengthened coordination at the regional and national levels.
In 2009, contingency planning exercises were carried out under the banner of the PHT in the Solomon Islands, Samoa and Vanuatu. Clusters were established in response to floods in Fiji and the Solomon Islands, and the cluster approach was formally activated at the regional level following the tsunami that struck Samoa on 29 September. OCHA role as PHT facilitator is crucial to ensuring necessary humanitarian coordination in the region. SRO also collaborates closely with humanitarian, development and donor organizations. It also works with key regional partners including the SOPAC.
In 2010, OCHA will continue to support governments to coordinate humanitarian action, mobilize resources and ensure strengthened preparedness to respond at the regional and country levels. The SRO will provide necessary training and support inter-agency contingency planning and PHT work. The SRO will also provide information products and help develop methodologies for standardized rapid needs assessments in the Pacific. Finally, OCHA will continue to strengthen disaster risk reduction and humanitarian coordination in the Pacific by supporting the development of national action plans.