Regional Office for Southern and Eastern Africahttp://ochaonline.un.org/rosea
- The last three years represented the worst consecutive flood/cyclone seasons in recent Southern Africa history, affecting more than four million people in nine countries. The number of cyclones in the Indian Ocean Basin for the past two seasons exceeded the ten-year average.
- The Horn of Africa region suffered four consecutive failed rainy seasons, leading to prolonged drought conditions throughout much of the region. Southern Africa has experienced three severe droughts in the past ten years, where typically only one drought would occur every ten years.
- Nearly 20 million people are in need of emergency food assistance in the Horn of Africa.
- Thirty-five percent of all new HIV/AIDS infections and 38% of all AIDS deaths globally occur in nine southern Africa countries.
- Within the Horn of Africa, there are more than two million IDPs, while an additional 500,000 are refugees. In the Great Lakes region, there are almost three million IDPs and 660,000 refugees.
- United Nations operations are significantly restricted in more than 55% of the Horn of Africa region due to insecurity. Targeting of humanitarian workers in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is increasing: there were 114 security incidents involving humanitarian staff between 1 January and 5 November 2009 in North Kivu province alone.
There are five Consolidated Appeals in the region in 2010, totaling US$ 2.6 billion in humanitarian assistance. In Southern and Eastern Africa, more work is needed to strengthen regional and national response and preparedness capacities due to the increasing frequency of natural disasters, including trans-boundary disasters, and growing population movements – resulting from compounded pressures on livelihoods, including conflict. Specific concerns include:
- Inter-governmental regional coordination on trans-boundary response and preparedness is weak.
- International community efforts to support governments and other authorities to address this problem require better coordination.
- Multi-year action plans are required to achieve minimum disaster preparedness measures in all countries.
- The instability created by conflict thwarts efforts at regional cooperation, as well as sustained national level preparedness.
- Greater cooperation between humanitarian and development actors is needed to address the full spectrum of risk reduction, as well as the chronic nature of vulnerability in the region.
Historically, OCHA has led coordination in humanitarian planning preparedness and response coordination out of both Johannesburg and Nairobi. In 2010, the coordination from Nairobi will be undertaken through a SRO, reporting to the Regional Office in Johannesburg. OCHA possesses the knowledge, expertise and credibility to bring United Nations and non-United Nations partners together around agreed priorities. OCHA can leverage this cooperation both in support of intergovernmental regional bodies, as well as through the RC/HC system in support of national level action. As an active member of the United Nations RDT for East and Southern Africa, OCHA can support and mobilize the system to act on humanitarian priorities with greater predictability and accountability. As the custodian of IASC emergency response tools and services, it can support inter-agency humanitarian partnerships and action in the region with authority, as well as the buy-in of all key stakeholders. Lastly, OCHA IM capacities are among the few that can provide multi-sectoral analysis to humanitarian decision makers.
In 2010, OCHA will continue to promote a greater understanding of underlying vulnerability in the region through the synthesis and analysis of varied data in support of decision-making. In particular, OCHA will facilitate interactions between regional and national meteorologists to inform planning for possible hazard- related impacts in all key sectors. OCHA will use these conclusions to: (i) annually update national multi-hazard contingency plans; and, (ii) expand the use of inter-agency disaster simulations in the region, by building on existing best practice adapted to the Southern and Eastern Africa context. In Southern Africa, OCHA will also support the harmonization and refinement of existing assessment tools and methodologies, through the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Regional and National Vulnerability Assessment Committees. OCHA will ensure greater incorporation of crosscutting issues, such as protection, gender and HIV/AIDS, in assessments of both sudden and slow onset crisis. Furthermore, OCHA will develop guidance for countries in early warning, preparedness and response for drought.
ROSEA will act as the first responder for humanitarian coordination needs resulting from disasters in countries where there is no OCHA presence. ROSEA will also work closely with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to provide technical support and guidance to countries in transition.
OCHA will facilitate the development of a collaborative framework for system-wide support to the establishment of SADC Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Unit and implementation of its regional DRR strategy. OCHA will also continue to support annual consultations between SADC Member States and its international cooperating partners to measure progress towards the implementation of a minimum set of agreed response preparedness priorities and address gaps. In Eastern Africa, OCHA will support the development of inter-agency strategy for engagement with regional bodies on a disaster risk reduction agenda.
OCHA will lead the development of a Management Accountability Framework for regional humanitarian coordination in Southern Africa that ensures more predictable, appropriate and comprehensive support to countries for preparedness and response. OCHA will seek to build consensus for the same in Eastern Africa. It will also support the development of inclusive humanitarian coordination fora in countries with limited humanitarian capacity and strengthen cluster lead coordination capacities through targeted training. OCHA will continue its systematic engagement with operational partners in Southern and Eastern Africa.
OCHA will also expand its cooperation with global cluster leads, think tanks, universities and other actors with the aim to improve the analysis of, and further humanitarian action in at least five of the countries supported. Specifically, cooperation with the global protection cluster will help humanitarian operations to more systematically address protection concerns in natural disasters and in large scale irregular migration in Southern Africa, both from within the region itself, and from the Horn and Great Lakes regions.
Supporting Regional Disaster Preparedness
Over the past several years, to mitigate the impact of disasters – in particular the extreme impact of climate change – OCHA in Southern Africa has spearheaded international humanitarian community efforts to ensure minimum preparedness measures at the national level. Southern Africa is currently experiencing earlier and more erratic rainy seasons; an increase in the number of Category Four and Five cyclones in the Indian Ocean Basin; shortened drought cycles; and higher sea levels.
Since 2007, OCHA has thus supported SADC, its Member States and their partners to:
- Link climatic data from the Southern Africa Regional Climate Outlook Forum (SARCOF) to planning for possible impacts in all key sectors.
- Couple this with a greater understanding of underlying vulnerability in the region through the synthesis and analysis of varied data.
- Use these conclusions to complete multi-hazard contingency plans, and to annually review and update these prior to the rainy season.
- Share best practice and learning from within the region on national level preparedness initiatives through annual consultation between the SADC, its Member State national disaster authorities and their international cooperating partners.
- Build consensus and commitment at the political level nationally and with the regional development body to prioritize the development of regional capacities to oversee the implementation of regional DRR strategies.
- Better understand the application of human rights in natural disasters, as well as the need to address the special considerations of people living with HIV and AIDS in disasters.
The result has been improved collaboration between SADC national disaster managers and their international cooperating partners in preparing for and responding to disasters. This has led to:
- Swifter response times.
- The timely movement to safety of people living in flood plains.
- Improved response to the needs of communities displaced by disasters, including through the pre-positioning of relief supplies in high risk areas, and less lives lost.