Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific

Key Facts
  • Between 2000 and 2009, 40 per cent of all registered disaster events occurred in Asia and the Pacific.
  • In 2009, over 75 per cent of people killed by natural disasters worldwide were in Asia and the Pacific. In 2008, that figure was 98 per cent.
  • Asia and the Pacific also accounted for one third of the world’s ongoing conflicts in 2009 – the highest of any region.
  • There are roughly 4.3 million Internally Displaced Persons throughout the region.

The Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) is based in Thailand. It covers 36 countries and 14 territories. ROAP oversees the Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific in Fiji (see box), and OCHA’s Humanitarian Support Units (HSUs) in Nepal and Papua New Guinea. The HSU in Nepal remains focused on humanitarian needs, in particular natural disasters, food insecurity and political instability that regularly causes displacement. Located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the HSU in Papua New Guinea will continue to focus on disaster preparedness with national authorities.

The Asia and Pacific region was beset by disasters in 2010. A 7.1-magnitude earthquake struck China's Qinghai Province. Serious flooding affected China, Sri Lanka, Papua New Guinea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and extreme winter conditions devastated Mongolia. Tropical cyclones affected the Philippines and several Pacific Island nations. ROAP's support for preparedness yielded tangible response outcomes for these crises. Preparedness activities were a key element in local-level responses by Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs).

ROAP plays a central role in providing coordination support to HCTs in areas without a local OCHA presence. In collaboration with humanitarian partners, ROAP reinforces preparedness and emergency response action. In practical terms, this involves supporting Resident Coordinators/Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs/HCs), national governments, regional organizations, Inter-Agency Standing Committee partners and other stakeholders. ROAP also backstops OCHA country offices in Indonesia, the Philippines, Myanmar and Sri Lanka by providing surge capacity, training and technical support.

ROAP responds to the region’s frequent sudden-onset disasters. It maintains trained staff who can deploy within 24 hours as part of the first wave of OCHA response and at the request of governments and RCs/HCs. Once on the ground, ROAP staff members offer a suite of services in support of cluster coordination and the use of humanitarian financing tools, such as the Central Emergency Response Fund, and flash and consolidated appeals. ROAP also assists with information management, reporting, public information and civil-military coordination.

ROAP developed the OCHA Global Focus Model in 2007 to identify risk in the region. The model has been expanded to other regions and is now updated annually as part of OCHA’s workplanning cycle. ROAP currently focuses on 13 countries that combine high exposure to hazards, high vulnerability and low capacity, and where an international humanitarian response may be necessary in medium- or large-scale emergencies.

In 2011, ROAP will address preparedness needs by providing HCTs in priority countries with a comprehensive package of support that can be tailored to each country. To strengthen preparedness and response capacity, ROAP will also build on evolving partnerships with regional entities such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation, and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community.

Sub-Regional Office for the Pacific

The Sub-Regional Office (SRO) for the Pacific in Fiji ensures that regional responders work together to deliver timely and appropriate humanitarian assistance to affected people across the Pacific. In 2010 alone, Fiji and the Pacific Islands faced emergencies that included five tropical cyclones, two volcanic eruptions and one tsunami.

The SRO in Fiji supports coordination between partners through the Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT), which covers 14 Pacific Island countries. The PHT includes 150 organizations that undertake relief, early recovery and protection activities. Members are based in 27 countries and have been active in seven clusters. These regional clusters remain on standby to respond to emergencies and strengthen preparedness.

Building on recent inter-agency contingency planning exercises in Vanuatu, Cook Islands and Tonga, OCHA will target two additional countries in 2011 with contingency-planning workshops. These are likely to be Fiji and the Solomon Islands. The workshops will strengthen working relationships between humanitarian agencies and national authorities, and build a common understanding of national and international disaster-response architectures.

In 2011, OCHA will lead and support the review of joint national and international multi-sector rapid assessment methodologies in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. OCHA will also foster relationships with national networks on the ground, including women’s associations, to speak out on their behalf and ensure their regular inclusion in response planning.