Regional Office for Southern and Eastern Africa

Key Facts
  • Some 4 million people in Southern Africa and 17 million in Eastern Africa are routinely food insecure.
  • Cholera is becoming increasingly endemic in both regions.
  • In Eastern Africa, there are more than 5 million Internally Displaced Persons and more than 1 million refugees.
  • Southern Africa is the global epicentre of the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
  • In the last three years, both regions have seen consecutive failed rainy seasons and unprecedented drought.
  • Armed conflict continues in eight countries in the region, restricting access to 55 per cent of the Horn of Africa.


The Regional Office for Southern and Eastern Africa (ROSEA) covers 24 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa, nine of which are experiencing a humanitarian crisis or transitioning to development. Of these countries, only seven have full OCHA country offices: DRC, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. ROSEA is the first line of emergency preparedness and response support to the remaining 18 countries in both regions. These countries are supported from Johannesburg and a Sub-Regional Office in Nairobi (see box).

Preparedness and flood response, especially in countries sharing the Zambezi River Basin, have been a priority for OCHA given the almost annual recurrence of significant flooding. Mozambique and Madagascar are also particularly prone to cyclones and massive tropical storms. More work is needed to strengthen regional disaster risk reduction frameworks, and to improve the quality of national and regional preparedness and response plans and capacities. The instability created by armed and social conflict continues to thwart efforts in regional cooperation, and sustained regional- and national-level preparedness.

OCHA adds value throughout the region by bringing together the United Nations and other international partners around agreed priorities. OCHA can leverage this cooperation in support of intergovernmental regional bodies and through the Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator system. As an active member of the United Nations Regional Director’s Team for East and Southern Africa, OCHA supports and mobilizes the system to act on humanitarian priorities with greater predictability and accountability.

As the custodian of Inter-Agency Standing Committee emergency response tools and services, OCHA supports inter-agency humanitarian partnerships and action in the region and ensures the buy-in of all key stakeholders. Additionally, its information-management capacities are among the few that can provide multi-sectoral analysis to humanitarian decision makers.

In 2011, OCHA will assist regional actors and governmental bodies to identify gaps in regional disaster risk reduction strategies, particularly response preparedness, and to coordinate international action to address these gaps. OCHA will undertake a comprehensive risk analysis of 11 countries to strengthen planning and data preparedness for multiple threats. It will support sub-regional planning efforts to increase disaster preparedness in communities along the Zambezi River Basin, and continue promoting the use of the cluster approach in preparedness and response.

With hubs in Johannesburg and Nairobi, OCHA staff members in the region are among the primary providers of preparedness and surge response to countries in crisis. Given the comparative lack of government and partner resources in this region, OCHA is called on to respond to nearly every small- to medium-scale crisis. From 2007 to 2010, ROSEA responded to 28 emergencies in 10 countries in Southern Africa alone.

ROSEA will maintain a senior, full-time presence in Madagascar for half of 2011, as the drought in the South and the fragile political situation threaten to exacerbate acute vulnerabilities. Additionally, by the second quarter of 2011 ROSEA will assume management of the Humanitarian Support Unit in Uganda, as the OCHA Country Office phases down.

Sub-Regional Office for Eastern Africa

The Sub-Regional Office (SRO) for Eastern Africa in Nairobi covers two sub-regions: the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes. The volatility of the East African region will continue to require a particular focus due to protracted instability in Somalia, the peace process in Sudan, ongoing instability in the Eastern part of DRC, and continued tensions between Ethiopia and Eritrea. Elections planned for 2011 in DRC, Sudan and Uganda may also trigger social unrest and cross-border displacements. The situation in Burundi remains fragile, following tensions experienced during the recent
presidential and parliamentary elections.

To support OCHA’s presence in these countries, the SRO in Nairobi will facilitate multi-country preparedness and planning consultations, and act as the secretariat to the Regional Humanitarian Partnership Team, which is a senior-level Inter-Agency Standing Committee forum. Surge capacity will be provided as needed to OCHA country offices in the sub-region and to countries with little or no OCHA presence. This includes Burundi, Djibouti, Rwanda, Tanzania and, by the middle of 2011, Uganda. It will also work to strengthen collaboration with regional bodies, especially those working with emergency preparedness and response such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development.