Country Offices: Asia and the Pacific


Key Facts
  • Indonesia is ranked 108 out of 169 on the Human Development Index.
  • The population is 232.5 million.
  • Indonesia is ranked first out of 162 countries and special territories for potential population exposed to a tsunami.
  • Indonesia ranked second in terms of vulnerability on Maplecroft's Natural Disaster Risk Index 2010.
  • On average, 1 million Indonesians are affected by natural disasters every year.
  • From 1980 to 2008, there were 293 natural disasters, which caused an estimated $21.2 billion in economic losses.


Indonesia remains one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. Its vast population is spread over more than 17,000 islands. During October 2010, a volcanic eruption in central Java and an earthquake and tsunami off the coast of Sumatra underscored the unique challenges this archipelago nation faces.

Although Indonesia’s Disaster Management Law was passed in 2007, a decentralized disaster-management structure is still evolving and gaps remain in response capacities at the sub-national level. As the Disaster Management Agency now has increased capacity for preparedness and response, most emergency responses are effectively handled by the Government at the national and local level. Despite this, the Government has remained without adequate capacity and resources in many medium- and large-scale disasters.

OCHA’s role in Indonesia is therefore twofold: predict potential response gaps for the Government to assist affected populations, and transfer knowledge to the Government at local and national levels, particularly promoting disaster preparedness. Due to successful capacity-building, the Government willingly has greater involvement in the humanitarian operations of other affected countries. Indonesian national teams have supported relief efforts in Myanmar (2008), the occupied Palestinian territory (2009) and Haiti and Pakistan (2010).

There are approximately 100 international humanitarian organizations operating in Indonesia. OCHA provides expertise and coordination support between the Government and the international community, including the development of guidelines for the humanitarian community’s work. OCHA aims to strengthen the Humanitarian Country Team and the cluster system, guaranteeing proper inter-cluster coordination and ensuring more predictable resources through managing emergency humanitarian funds. The Emergency Response Fund (ERF) has been effective in helping humanitarian organizations to cover immediate gaps. The ERF will continue to be a key part of ensuring predictable resources for local humanitarian actors.

In 2011, OCHA will continue working with the Government and humanitarian actors to identify minimum-preparedness activities necessary to minimize the effects of disasters. OCHA’s main focus will be further strengthening capacity in the National Disaster Management Agency. Technical expertise will be shared in strategic planning, underpinned by proper needs assessments and risk analysis, especially at the sub-national level. Continued assistance in local contingency planning will be crucial in tackling coordination challenges at the provincial and district levels.

OCHA will also work more closely with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2011, focusing on its support to the association’s Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on Disaster Management. Indonesia assumes the ASEAN Chairmanship in 2011, which provides added momentum for OCHA to strengthen its partnership with ASEAN.


Key Facts
  • Myanmar is ranked 132 out of 169 on the Human Development Index.
  • The population is 50.4 million.
  • Life expectancy is 61.2 years, compared with the regional average of 72.2 years.
  • Infant mortality remains high, with one in 10 births resulting in the infant’s death.
  • Malnutrition is widespread among children under age 5.
  • More than 25 per cent of the population lacks access to safe drinking water.


The operational environment in Myanmar is constrained by insecurity, weak infrastructure and restrictive Government policies. Since Cyclone Nargis hit Myanmar’s Irrawaddy Delta in 2008, coordination among humanitarian actors has strengthened, resulting in improvements in the humanitarian response. The Delta continues to require humanitarian and development assistance and long-term recovery, especially in agriculture and shelter.

The most vulnerable communities in Myanmar are affected by a complex mix of factors linked to natural disasters and conflict. Populations remain vulnerable to frequent, low-scale shocks that undermine the development process. Outside the Delta, significant humanitarian needs exist, particularly in areas such as Chin State, Northern Rakhine State and the eastern border areas. Humanitarian actors are particularly concerned about factors such as food insecurity, malnutrition, internal and external migration, and limited access to basic services such as health, education and water.

OCHA provides coordination and support to the humanitarian community through the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), which was created in 2010. The HCT is chaired by the Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC), and focuses on strategic decision-making and information sharing. It has helped improve common planning among United Nations agencies, the Red Cross movement and NGOs for the humanitarian response. To enhance this ongoing support, a review is underway to ensure the current coordination structure meets the humanitarian community’s needs.

In 2010, OCHA also helped to develop the Joint Humanitarian Initiative, an inter-agency, Government-endorsed strategy to assist vulnerable groups in Northern Rakhine State. A humanitarian strategy for the south-east is in development.

Improving and developing these initiatives will take priority for OCHA during 2011. The HCT will focus more on decision-making for humanitarian organizations and joint response priorities. OCHA will also strengthen its support to the HC and thematic working groups.

Funding will remain a key priority. OCHA will continue managing the Humanitarian Multi-Stakeholder Fund, which focuses on the south-east. As part of this effort, OCHA will convene donor meetings, produce donor briefs, and facilitate the development of Central Emergency Response Fund proposals and inter-agency strategy documents.

Addressing access constraints will also be an area of focus. OCHA will work with United Nations agencies and NGOs to monitor and analyse humanitarian access, and support the HC and HCT with follow-up activities. OCHA will continue working closely with the Myanmar Information Management Unit to ensure the humanitarian community receives timely and relevant information products to support planning and decision-making.


Key Facts
  • The Philippines is ranked 97 out of 169 on the Human Development Index.
  • The population is 93.6 million.
  • Between 1990 and 2009, almost 30 per cent of natural disasters in South-East Asia occurred in the Philippines.
  • Due to the ongoing conflict in Mindanao, over 69,300 Internally Displaced Persons live in evacuation centres.


OCHA has two main areas of focus in the Philippines: natural disasters, and conflict-affected Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and returnees. The Philippines is one of the world’s most disaster-prone countries. It is predicted that the frequency and impact of natural disasters will increase in the coming years, largely due to climate change. The Philippines is also the setting of a long-standing conflict between the country’s armed forces and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) in Mindanao.

The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 was signed into law in May 2010. It provides a basis for coordination and cooperation between the Government and the humanitarian community.

OCHA is leading an increased focus on disaster-response preparedness within the humanitarian community, particularly through its inter-cluster coordination role. The cluster approach has been successfully institutionalized in the Philippines’ disaster-management system. However, efforts to sustain and strengthen overall coordination mechanisms under the new Government that came into power in June 2010 will require dedicated support in 2011. OCHA has a critical role as the facilitator between the Government and the humanitarian community in areas such as enhancing exchange of humanitarian information, developing inter-agency contingency plans and creating assessment tools.

The humanitarian community in Mindanao is responding primarily to a caseload of IDPs and recent returnees displaced by fighting that began in 2008, as well as frequent cases of clan fighting known as “rido”. OCHA facilitated the development of the first version of the Mindanao Contingency Plan and is supporting efforts to increase humanitarian access for the delivery of assistance in Mindanao.

OCHA is instrumental in providing coordination support to the Government and the growing humanitarian community. It also works closely with UNDP to coordinate programmes that have a significant early-recovery component and focus on sustainable returns.

OCHA takes the lead in policy development and in representing the humanitarian community to the Government, the military and MILF. It chairs the Mindanao Humanitarian Team, which is a platform for coordination, joint assessments, analysis and monitoring. In 2010, OCHA also facilitated the development of Mindanao’s first Humanitarian Action Plan (HAP), which is essential for joint planning and resource mobilization.

In 2011, OCHA will focus on enhanced cooperation with the new Government on implementing the provisions of the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010. As part of this effort, OCHA will support strategic planning through an inter-agency contingency-planning process that involves the Government and the Humanitarian Country Team.

OCHA will also increase its focus on building Government counterparts’ capacity in coordination, using information management tools such as the 3W directory and maps to encourage effective decision-making and planning.

Assuming the humanitarian and security situations in Mindanao improve during 2011, the focus will increasingly be on early recovery, with a view to transitioning to development. OCHA will monitor progress in achieving the HAP objectives and frequently review the Mindanao Contingency Plan, updating scenarios where necessary.

Sri Lanka

Key Facts
  • Sri Lanka is ranked 91 out of 169 on the Human Development Index.
  • The population is 20.4 million.
  • Out of the 300,000 people displaced during 2009, 238,000 have been released from camps and/or returned to their areas of origin.
  • Approximately 23,000 people are still in camps, while another 72,000 are with host families in transit sites or in social institutions.
  • An estimated 1.5 million landmines and unexploded ordnance in return areas are a major constraint to resettlement, livelihoods, food security and recovery.
  • The 2010 CHAP requested $289 million, of which $144 million (50 per cent) was received.


The situation in Sri Lanka is changing rapidly, with priorities shifting from humanitarian assistance to recovery and development. OCHA and partners are facilitating a thorough revision of coordination mechanisms to ensure effective response to new realities on the ground. This includes a lessons-learned exercise, which will streamline coordination while guaranteeing a timely response to existing humanitarian concerns.

As OCHA enters into a transition phase in 2011, moving from humanitarian aid and towards recovery and development, its planning will draw on policy guidance and best practices from other countries in transition.

OCHA’s main field hub will shift from Vavuniya to Killinochchi to support a coordinated response and ensure coverage of remaining humanitarian issues, such as support for returnees. The Mannar and Jaffna sub-offices will scale back as activities shift to early-recovery planning. Sufficient capacity will be maintained in Colombo to support field activities and the coordination functions of the Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, and to ensure Government liaison and standby capacity for disaster preparedness and response.

OCHA is maximizing impact by supporting cluster leads in identifying gaps and duplications, and ensuring inter-sectoral coordination. It is also spearheading discussions to revise coordination mechanisms according to new realities on the ground.

OCHA is working with Government entities to strengthen information systems. This includes introducing a contact-management directory to improve coordination between Government and humanitarian actors. Increasingly, OCHA will seek to establish joint ownership of key information products and collaboration in standardized data collection at national and local levels.

To strengthen response and preparedness systems, OCHA is working with the Ministry of Disaster Management to learn more about areas that are prone to natural disasters, such as heavy rains and floods. To ensure rapid response to sudden emergencies, training is planned for Government staff and partners with the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination team and the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group. Support will be provided through regular programme arrangements and in response to ad hoc requests as disasters strike. Collaboration will be strengthened with the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific in order to build local capacity.

As OCHA enters a transitional phase, its presence will ensure support for safe, voluntary and dignified returns and sustainable resettlement. The provision of basic services, livelihoods and infrastructure development will begin a process of renewal and growth as mine-action operations continue. OCHA will sustain efforts aimed at strengthening advocacy with the international community, media and the general public to anticipate ongoing challenges that could affect humanitarian action. Links between stakeholders and donors will be improved to support dialogue on operations and advocacy on key issues.

OCHA will continue to guide a resource mobilization strategy and funding appeal. The appeal will incorporate inputs from humanitarian and early recovery partners, and link with the United Nations Development Assistance Framework.