This chapter describes some of the most important international tools and services available for disaster response in Asia and the Pacific.

As previously explained, the primary responders in any emergency are disasteraffected communities and their Governments. International tools and services are only activated when disaster response needs exceed national capacities and an affected Government requests and/or accepts international assistance.

How to read this chapter

There is a short description of each tool and service, followed by two call outs highlighted in green: Who is it for? How is it accessed?

Who is if for?
How is is accessed?

A range of international technical teams can be mobilized within hours of a disaster to support a Government's relief efforts. Described here are the purpose, composition and activation modalities of (a) bilateral, (b) intergovernmental and (c) RCRC Movement. These teams are generally deployed in large- and sometimes medium-scale disasters. They exist in addition to the many sector-specific technical teams deployed by Governments, clusters, and other individual agencies and are designed to complement their work.

Timeline of disaster response tools and services in medium and large scale emergencies
Timeline of disaster response tools and services in medium and large scale emergencies

Available tools and services by scale of disaster (as requested by affected Government)
Available tools and services by scale of disaster (as requested by affected Government)

Urban Search and Rescue teams are composed of trained experts who provide rescue and medical assistance in an emergency. USAR teams that deploy internationally generally comprise expert personnel, specialized equipment and search dogs. They can be operational within 24 to 48 hours of a disaster. USAR teams are offered and received bilaterally and/or with the coordination support of the OCHA-managed International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). The advantage of working with INSARAG to receive international USAR teams is that their precise capacities and capabilities are specified through an INSARAG External Classification (IEC) and the teams work according to internationally-agreed standards and modalities.

Additionally, there are two complementary coordination mechanisms that support INSARAG's USAR deployments:

Virtual On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (Virtual OSOCC) is a global online network and information portal that facilitates data exchange between disaster responders and affected counties before, during and after sudden-onset disasters. It is the first place to look to see if a Government is requesting search-and-rescue support, and to track the arrival and position of different USAR teams.

On-Site Operations Coordination Center (OSOCC) is a physical facility established in the USAR-requesting country to receive incoming and support inter-USAR coordination. At the OSOCC, international relief teams are registered and receive basic information about the situation, the operations of national and international responders, and logistical arrangements.

Who are they for?

USAR teams support the search-and-rescue efforts of national Governments, particularly in urban settings where there are collapsed structures.

How are they accessed?

A Government seeking assistance in activating international USAR teams through INSARAG can do so through a pre-identified INSARAG National Focal Point or directly through the INSARAG secretariat at Account access to the Virtual OSOCC can be requested here. Further information about OSOCC is available through OCHA-ROAP at

Bilateral technical response teams are emergency teams deployed by assisting Governments to make an initial assessment of needs for contributions to the affected Government and/or to UN agencies, the RCRC Movement, and NGOs. Some key bilateral technical response teams active in Asia and the Pacific include the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)'s Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART), the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID)'s Conflict, Humanitarian and Security Department (CHASE), Japan International Cooperation Agency's (JICA) Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) Team, European Community Humanitarian Office's (ECHO) Civil Protection Team and Rapid Response Team.

What is the difference between "light", "medium" and "heavy" USAR teams?

According to INSARAG's classification system, USAR teams are classified in three categories: light, medium and heavy.

  1. Light USAR teams have the operational capability to assist with surface search and rescue in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. Light USAR teams are not normally recommended for international deployment.
  2. Medium USAR teams have the operational capability to conduct technical search-and-rescue operations in structural-collapse incidents. Medium USAR teams are required to be able to search for trapped people. International Medium USAR teams travelling to an affected country should be operational in the affected country within 32 hours of when the disaster was posted on the Virtual OSOCC. A medium team must be adequately staffed to allow for 24-hour operations at one site for up to seven days.
  3. Heavy USAR teams have the operational capability for difficult and complex technical search-and-rescue operations. Heavy USAR teams are required to be able to search for trapped people and use canine and technical systems. They are also required to provide international assistance in disasters resulting in the collapse of multiple structures, typically in urban settings, when national response capacity has either been overwhelmed or does not have the required capability. International heavy USAR teams travelling to an affected country should be operational in the affected country within 48 hours of when the disaster was posted on the Virtual OSOCC. A heavy team must be adequately resourced to allow for 24-hour operations at two separate sites for up to 10 days.

Source: INSARAG Guidelines.

Who are they for?

The majority of these bilateral technical response teams are designed to support the assisting (donor) Government in making a decision on what type of support to provide during an emergency response. Some, such as the Japan Disaster Response (JDR) team, also provide search and rescue, medical and other technical support.

How are they accessed?

More information on these bilateral technical response teams can be attained from the embassies of the respective countries.

UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) teams are standby teams of specially-trained international disaster management professionals from UN Member States, UN agencies and other disaster response organizations that can be deployed within 12 to 48 hours of a disaster. The primary elements of the UNDAC mandate are assessment, coordination and information management. UNDAC teams are self-sufficient in telecommunications, office and personal equipment. An UNDAC team normally stays in the affected area for the initial response phase, which can be up to three weeks.

An UNDAC team can be deployed even if the Government does not issue a general request for international assistance : the case of Japan

Following the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, the Government of Japan requested a specialized UNDAC team even though it did not request more general international assistance.

Deployed within 48 hours, the seven-member UNDAC team provided emergency support operations based out of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) office in Tokyo over a period of 10 days. The UNDAC team's terms of reference requested by the Government of Japan were as follows:

  1. To report to the international community on the emergency situation.
  2. To advise the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on how to respond to the numerous offers of assistance.
  3. To assist, from Tokyo, in coordinating the international USAR teams deployed to Japan.

A word on UNDAC technical partnerships

UNDAC teams work with a number of technical NGOs and other partners to ensure rapid deployment and self-sufficiency. Examples include UNDAC partnerships with Telecoms Sans Frontieres for telecommunications, with MapAction for on-site mapping services, with DHL for airport logistics and with UNOSAT for satellite imagery.

Who are they for?

UNDAC teams are deployed to support Governments and international aid organizations. An UNDAC team's deployment is free of charge. Team members are funded through pre-arranged agreements with UNDAC member agencies and Governments.

How are they accessed?

An UNDAC team is deployed at the request of an affected Government, the UN RC or the HC. An UNDAC team can be requested through OCHA at +41 22 917 1600,, or through OCHA-ROAP at +66 2288 2611 or at

ASEAN Emergency Rapid Assessment Teams (ERAT) are a pool of trained and rapidly deployable (within 24 hours) experts on emergency assessment, for disasters in ASEAN countries. The purpose of the ASEAN ERAT is to assist NDMOs in the earliest phase of an emergency in a variety of areas including (a) conducting rapid assessments; (b) estimating the scale, severity and impact of the disaster through a damage assessment and needs analysis; (c) gathering information and reporting on the immediate needs of affected people; and (d) coordinating with the AHA Centre for the mobilization, response and deployment of regional disaster management assets, capacities and humanitarian goods and assistance to the disaster-affected areas.

ASEAN ERAT members consist of trained NDMOs and related ministries staff from within the 10 ASEAN Member States enabling stronger collaboration with affected ASEAN Member States' government and communities.

Who are they for?

ASEAN-ERAT are deployed to support disaster-affected ASEAN Member States.

How are they accessed?

The ASEAN-ERAT deployment is free of charge. ERATs are deployed through a request to the ASEAN AHA Centre at, or at +62 21 2305006 or through the ASEAN National Focal Point.

Joint OCHA/UNEP Environment Unit (JEU) is the UN emergency response mechanism that provides international assistance to countries facing environmental emergencies. Environmental emergency specialists, such as chemists, water management experts, geologists and engineers, can be deployed individually or as part of a larger UNDAC team. These specialists work with national agencies and often the military to identify and prioritize environmental risks using the Flash Environmental Assessment Tool (FEAT). Specialized equipment for detecting hazardous materials and onsite sampling and analysis can be mobilized through its HazMat Module (Singapore) and Mobile Laboratory (Netherlands).

Who are they for?

Joint OCHA/UNEP Environment Units are deployed to support Governments.

How are they accessed?

Support for an environmental emergency and/or a natural disaster with secondary environmental consequences can be requested by a Government through preidentified JEU National Focal Points, or through the Environmental Emergency Notification/Request for International Assistance form, which is on the OCHA/UNEP website.

Regional Disaster Response Teams (RDRTs) are trained regional response teams composed of National Society staff and volunteers who can be deployed within 24 to 48 hours of a disaster to bring assistance to National Societies in neighbouring countries. RDRTs aim to promote the building of regional capacities in disaster management. The primary functions of RDRT members are as follows:

Field Assessment Coordination Teams (FACT) are rapidly deployable teams comprising RCRC Movement disaster assessment managers who support National Societies and IFRC field offices. FACT members have technical expertise in relief, logistics, health, nutrition, public health and epidemiology, psychological support, water and sanitation, and finance and administration. FACTs are on standby and can be deployed anywhere in the world within 12 to 24 hours for two to four weeks.

Emergency Response Units (ERUs) are teams of trained technical specialists mandated to give immediate support to National Societies in disaster-affected countries. They provide specific support or direct services when local facilities are destroyed, overwhelmed by need or do not exist. ERUs work closely with FACT. The teams use pre-packed sets of standardized equipment and are designed to be selfsufficient for one month. ERUs can be deployed within 24 to 72 hours and can operate for up to four months.

  1. To undertake primary assessments
  2. To develop operational planning
  3. To conduct relief management

How can Governments manage international technical team deployment?

One of the main challenges for disaster-affected Governments in the initial hours and days of an emergency is managing numerous offers of assistance, including offers to deploy USAR and other technical response teams. In the midst of a crisis, it can be difficult for Governments to evaluate what is and is not required. It can also be difficult to say turn down offers of assistance.

It is important for states to remember that while "medium" and "heavy" USAR teams can be critical to search and rescue in larger-scale disasters, "light" teams are generally responsible for the highest percentage of livesaving activities in an emergency. This is because, light teams are locally based and they can immediately start operating when the disaster strikes. Generally speaking, international USAR teams ("medium" and "heavy" teams) should only be accepted if they can be operational within 36 hours of a disaster, which is the critical window within which most lives can actually be saved.

For this reason, it is important for national Governments to think ahead about the types of disaster risk they face and evaluate the types of technical assistance they might wish to accept as a result, from whom and in what order of priority. Some teams can be requested to arrive in anticipation of an expected need, for example if it is known that there will be a typhoon affecting a certain area or population.

It can also be useful for Governments to request UNDAC (or ASEAN ERAT) teams to manage the process of accepting or declining international offers of assistance on their behalf. In that way, Government officials can focus on delivering assistance to affected people through the national response resources.


Disaster-affected States should develop detailed preparedness plans so that they know the number and types of USAR and other technical response teams that they are pkely to accept in a disaster situation.

Disaster-affected States are encouraged to work with international technical entities to agree on the composition, terms of reference and period of activation of technical teams.

In addition to the teams described here, some global clusters have rapid response teams composed of regionally based experts such as child protection and GBV advisors that can be deployed rapidly.

Who are they for?

All three technical teams are deployed to support National Societies, IFRC and Governments of disaster-affected countries.

How are they accessed?

Information about the teams can be accessed through National Societies and IFRC.

In addition to technical teams deployable in an emergency, there are technical services that can be triggered to support national Governments and international organizations in their response. For the purposes of the guide, technical services include everything from pre-positioned supplies to communications technology packages to emergency surge rosters. The technical services described in this section are organized according to three areas: (a) relief assets and stockpiles; (b) technical networks; and (c) standby and surge rosters.

Military and Civil-Defence Assets (MCDA) are uniformed assets and services contributed by foreign military and civil-defence organizations for humanitarian assistance. They include relief personnel, equipment (e.g. air, ground and sea transport, communication equipment), and supplies and services (e.g. medical support, security services). MCDA are provided at no cost to the affected State and/or to the United Nations, unless otherwise regulated by international agreement.

MCDA that are deployed through a central request to support UN agencies are called UN MCDA. MCDA and UN MCDA are governed by individual Status of Forces Agreements between two countries and/or by the Oslo Guidelines on the Use of Foreign Military and Civil Defence Assets in Disaster Relief.

The Use of Military Assets in Disasters in Asia and the Pacific : some key principles

MCDA should be seen as tools that complement existing relief mechanisms in response to the humanitarian gap between the needs that the relief community is being asked to satisfy and the resources available to meet them.

MCDA can be mobilized and deployed bilaterally or under regional or international alliance agreements as "other deployed forces" or as part of a United Nations operation as "UN MCDA". All disaster relief, including MCDA, should be provided at the request or with the consent of the affected State and, in principle, on the basis of an appeal for international assistance.

An assisting State deciding to employ its MCDA should bear in mind the cost/benefit ratio of such operations as compared with other alternatives, if available. In principle, MCDA should be requested only as a last resort, and the costs involved in using MCDA on disaster relief missions abroad should not be diverted from those available for international relief and development activities.20

Who are they for?

MCDA are for affected States. UN MCDA are for UN agencies operating in support of affected States.

How are they accessed?

With the expressed consent of the affected State, MCDA can also be requested through the UN RC or the HC.

International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP) is an informal network of seven governmental organisations in Europe working in support of emergency operations on a daily basis. IHP has a strong capacity to support the United Nations, the European Union and other international organisations. A large variety of IHP standardised modules - from small Information Communication Technology (ICT) modules and Information Management (IM) support to large base camps and humanitarian compounds. Other examples for IHP modules are vehicles support or security equipment, as well as supporting the establishment of a Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC). IHP is open for requests for support outside of their modular system. Contributing countries include, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Norway, Sweden and UK.

Asia-Pacific Humanitarian Partnership (APHP) is a regionally based multinational technical arrangement designed to strengthen the response of humanitarian agencies. Like the IHP, it is primarily for UN agencies and UNDAC teams, as well as the IFRC and ASEAN. Basic modules (e.g. laptops, telecommunications equipment, tents and generators) can be mobilized within six hours for two to four weeks and come with fully trained support staff. Larger and more complex modules (e.g. light base camps and environmental support) can be mobilized within one to two days. Countries in Asia and the Pacific contributing to the APHP with support modules positioned nationally are Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore and South Korea. Tecoms Sans Frontieres is an NGO partner.

Examples of recent IHP/APHP module support in Asia and the Pacific
Country Disaster Type
Nepal 2008 Koshi River floods ICT Support Module
Indonesia 2009 Sumatra eartdquake ICT Support Module; Light Base Camp; OOSS Module
Pakistan 2010 floods Base Camp; Water Purification
Philippines 2012 typhoon Bopha ICT Support Module
Who are they for?

IHP and APHP are primarily for UN agencies and UNDAC teams but can also be used by the RCRC Movement, Regional organizations and Governments, as requested.

How are they accessed?

IHP and APHP can be accessed through the IHP secretariat in Geneva at +41 79 477 0812 or through OCHA-ROAP at

UN Humanitarian Response Depot (UNHRD) Network supports the strategic stockpiling efforts of UN agencies and other humanitarian organizations to respond to emergencies. The UNHRD in Asia and the Pacific is located in Subang, Malaysia, and is managed by WFP. It forms part of a global network of UNHRD hubs.

UNHRD Subang holds strategic reserves of emergency non-food relief goods, including medical kits, shelter items, IT equipment and other materials designed to assist the emergency response. A UNHRD shipment is normally dispatched within five to seven days following a request. Warehousing, storage, and inspection and handling of relief items are free of charge to users. UNHRD also provides additional services at cost, such as procurement, transport, technical assistance, insurance, repackaging and kitting.

The AHA Centre, through its Emergency Stockpile established under the auspice of Disaster Emergency Logistics System for ASEAN located in Subang, Malaysia provides relief items to affected Member States during emergencies. ASEAN Member States can request relief items through the AHA Centre in Jakarta, Indonesia.

UNHRD in Subang, Malaysia.
UNHRD in Subang, Malaysia.

Who is it for?

There are currently 11 users of the Subang UNHRD facility: ASEAN, AusAID, CARE, Irish Aid, JICA, Mercy Corps, MERCY Malaysia, Norwegian Church Aid, Swiss Red Cross and Shelterbox. WFP, WHO and World Vision International are expected to stockpile goods at the facility in 2013.

How is it accessed?

Items from the UNHRD network can be requested for dispatch by the UN RC or HC, or by UN agencies, other international organizations, Governments, and NGOs that have signed a technical agreement with UNHRD. More information about UNHRD in Subang can be accessed through the WFP Coordinator at

ICRC Family Links Network is the primary global framework for restoring family links in the aftermath of a disaster. Restoring Family Links (RFL) is the general term given to a range of activities that aim to prevent the separation of families and the disappearance of family members, to restore and maintain contact among families and to clarify the fate of persons who have been reported missing. The Family Links Network consists of the ICRC's Central Tracing Agency (CTA), tracing services of National Societies, and the tracing agencies of governments.

Who is it for?

The ICRC Family Links Network is for disaster-affected families with a missing relative.

How is it accessed?

In-country family links support can be accessed through National Societies. ICRC also maintains a FamilyLinks website.

In addition to the external technical teams that it manages, OCHA has a variety of internal surge staffing mechanisms by which staff can be deployed to address critical new or unforeseen humanitarian needs in the field. Deployments typically involve establishing new OCHA presences or reinforcing existing offices during escalating crises.

In small and medium emergencies, surge support is generally provided by Regional Office staff, who have local knowledge, a broad range of skills (i.e. information management, public information, civil-military coordination and reporting) and the necessary equipment to support them in the field. In larger emergencies Headquartersmanaged rosters will be used to ensure a transition from initial regional surge to medium- to longer-term support.

  1. Emergency Response Roster (ERR): The ERR is OCHA's main internal mechanism for short-term deployment of staff to larger emergencies. Some 35 OCHA staff are on the roster at any one time, and can be deployed within days for up to six weeks21. All of the regular profiles found in OCHA field offices can be sourced through the ERR.
  2. Associates Surge Pool (ASP): The ASP was developed to bridge the gap between immediate surge and the arrival of regular staffing. The ASP is composed of pre-cleared ""externals"" who can be quickly recruited and deployed. The average ASP deployment is three to six months.

WFP manages two common service clusters that provide important technical standby and surge capacities to humanitarian organizations from the onset of an emergency. These are the Emergency Telecommunications Cluster and the Logistics Cluster.

  1. Emergency Telecommunications Cluster provides in-country inter-agency telecommunications infrastructure, services and expertise for humanitarian organizations in an emergency.
  2. Logistics Cluster deploys logistics response teams to emergencies to assume an initial logistics coordination role for humanitarian organizations.
Who are they for?

In-country telecommunications and logistics support through the WFP-led global clusters are for humanitarian organizations. Representatives from aid organizations interested in participating in ICT or logistics coordination and information sharing can attend local working group meetings.

How are they accessed?

Information about both clusters is available through the WFP Regional Office at or through the cluster websites (see above).

The UN and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs have established a number of standby and surge capacities to reinforce technical expertise in emergencies. The largest general surge roster is called the Norwegian Refugee Council's Standby Roster (NORCAP). It provides expertise in everything from protection and emergency education, to logistics and engineering through rapid deployment of professional and experienced personnel. In addition to NORCAP, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) also manages the following thematic standby and surge rosters:

  1. The Protection Standby Capacity Roster (ProCap) responds to priority gaps and needs in emergency protection response at the country level.
  2. The Gender Standby Capacity Roster (GenCap) builds the capacity of humanitarian actors at country level to mainstream gender equality programming, including prevention and response to gender-based violence, in all sectors of humanitarian response.
  3. The Assessment Capacities Project (ACAPS) is an assessment standby capacity that provides accessible expertise, timely data and analysis to inform decisionmaking by national Governments and IASC HCTs.
Who are they for?

NORCAP, ProCap, GenCap and ACAPS teams are generally deployed as a resource for local HCTs and in support of the HC. They are often hosted by UNHCR, UNICEF, OHCHR, OCHA and/or other agencies. ACAPS' assessment expertise can also be deployed to support national Governments.

How are they accessed?

NORCAP, ProCap, GenCap and ACAPS are managed by the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) on behalf of the Government of Norway and the United Nations. Information about the rosters can be accessed at NORCAP and all queries can be addressed to


Many technical services are designed to reinforce the emergency response capacities of UN and other international agencies. However, these packages are flexible, and national Governments are encouraged to reach out to technical entities to explore preparedness arrangements for direct support as well.

"Fast money" is a critical tool in kick-starting response at the onset of a disaster. This section describes international financial resource tools that can be mobilized to support immediate life-saving and relief efforts. The purpose of these mechanisms is to disperse funds quickly based on initial assessments and response plans, while in-depth assessments and strategic planning are organized to mobilize larger sums of money for longer-term recovery.

This section also describes the international strategic planning and resource mobilization tools used in sudden-onset and protracted crises, namely the Flash Appeal and the Consolidated Appeal Process.

The mechanisms described herein are multilateral mechanisms. National disaster funding, bilateral contributions and private donations are also central to rapid disaster response.

Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) is an OCHA-managed UN fund intended to kick start emergency humanitarian assistance. The CERF comprises both a US$ 450 million grant element and a US$30 million loan facility. The grant element is subdivided into a rapid response window and an underfunded emergencies window. Rapid response grants are provided to support critical, life-saving activities in suddenonset disasters and situations of acute need, as well as other time-critical interventions not funded by other sources.22

As a guideline, CERF rapid response funding does not exceed US$30 million per country per emergency, although the ERC can offer funding beyond this amount if s/ he believes it is necessary. In most instances, the CERF rapid response provision aims to be about 10 per cent of the total funding requested in a Flash Appeal. However, the CERF does not depend on issuance of any Appeal.

CERF contributions and allocations in Asia and the Pacific 2006-2012
CERF contributions and allocations in Asia and the Pacific 2006-2012
Who is it for?

The UN General Assembly allows CERF funding to be granted to UN agencies and IOM only. Non-UN humanitarian partners, including NGOs and technical Government counterparts, can access CERF funding indirectly through sub-grants from CERF grant recipients.

How is it accessed?

CERF rapid response grants are requested by the UN RC or HC on behalf of the Humanitarian Country Team. However, once allocated, contractual arrangements are made between CERF and the recipient agency directly. CERF rapid response grants are generally dispersed within two weeks of a request.

IFRC Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) is an emergency response fund that provides immediate financial support to Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies, enabling them to carry out their unique role as first responders after a disaster. Allocations may be made as start-up loans in the case of large-scale disasters, as grants to meet the costs of responding to small-scale emergency relief operations, or for making preparations in the case of imminent disaster.

Who is it for?

DREF is available to all 187 Red Cross and Red Crescent National Societies.

How is it accessed?

IFRC reviews requests for DREF allocations on a case-by-case basis. Money can be authorized and released within 24 hours.

OCHA Emergency Cash Grant is an emergency relief grant that can be quickly dispersed in a sudden-onset disaster. The grant represents a relatively small amount of resources sourced from the UN regular budget and disbursed for pressing relief activities in the immediate aftermath of a disaster. The amount per allocation cannot exceed US$100,000, although more than one allocation can be made per emergency. Funds are disbursed within 10 days and can be useful in funding specific, immediate, life-saving activities such as local procurement, logistics support and/or transporting relief items.

Who is it for?

Emergency cash grants are usually received by the UN RC or HC. The UN RC or HC may spend the funds directly or seek OCHA's concurrence for their transfer to national authorities or local NGOs.

How is it accessed?

Funds are requested by the UN RC or HC, or by the OCHA field office or regional office. A Government can also request an OCHA Emergency Cash Grant through its Permanent Mission to the UN in Geneva or New York.

Emergency Response Fund (ERF)23 is a country-based pooled fund managed by the HC with OCHA support. Typical grant sizes are between US$100,000 and US$250,000. There are currently 12 ERFs operating worldwide, two of which are in the Asia-Pacific region: Indonesia and Myanmar. The criteria for establishing an ERF are quite stringent and the Guidelines are available here.

Who is it for?

ERF grants can be provided to UN agencies and NGOs.24

How is it accessed?

ERF funds are managed by the HC with support from the OCHA office and under the advice of a selected Advisory Board, which may include UN agencies, IOM, NGOs and components of the RCRC Movement.

UNDP TRAC 1.1.3 Category II resources are available to coordinate an effective response to a sudden crisis (disaster or conflict), conduct needs assessments, initiate early recovery frameworks and establish solid foundations for sustainable recovery. Funds usually do not exceed US$100,000 and need to be spent within 12 months.

Who are they for?

UNDP TRAC 1.1.3 Category II resources are available internally to UNDP country programmes.

How are they accessed?

Requests are made by the UN RC in a simple proposal, accompanied by a situation report. This has to be then approved by the Head of UNDP's Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) within 48 hours of a request.

ASEAN Disaster Management and Emergency Relief Fund. The ADMER Fund serves as a pool of resources to support the implementation of AADMER Work Programme, for response in emergencies in ASEAN Member States, as well as for the operational activities of AHA Centre. It is open for voluntary contributions by the ASEAN Member States, other public and private sources, such as ASEAN Dialogue Partners and assisting (donor) governments. The ADMER Fund is administered by the ASEAN Secretariat through the ACDM The ADMER Fund is a replenishment fund, not an endowment fund.

Who is it for?

It is for ASEAN Member States.

How is it accessed?

Further information is available from the ASEAN AHA Centre at

Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund (APDRF) is a dedicated fund of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) designed to provide incremental grant resources to ADB developing member countries affected by a major natural disaster. The APDRF provides quick-disbursing grants to help countries meet immediate expenses to restore lifesaving services to affected people following a declared disaster. Grants are provided in amounts of up to US$3 million to national Governments. They may in turn allocate the funds to local government, government agencies, and other suitable national or international entities, including NGOs.

Who is it for?

It is for ADB developing member countries.

How is it accessed?

Assistance is granted directly by ADB to national Governments and based on the following criteria:

  1. A natural disaster has occurred in a developing member country.
  2. An emergency has been officially declared and is of a scale beyond the capacity of the country and its own agencies to meet the immediate expenses necessary to restore life-saving services to affected people.
  3. The UN RC has confirmed the scale of the disaster and indicated a general amount of funding that would be required.
Financial resource mechanisms. What is available to whom?
Fund Dispersed within Who are the funds for? Who initiates the process?
CERF 10 days to 2 weeks UN agencies and IOM only. UN RC and/or HC
IFRC DREF 24 hours National Societie National Societies and IFRC
OCHA Emergency Cash Grants 10 days UN RC or HC, but may be transferred to national authorities or to local NGOs. UN RC or HC, OCHA field office or regional office, or affected Governments (through Permanent Mission)
UNDP TRAC 1.1.3 7 days UNDP UN RC
ERF 5 days to 2 weeks UN agencies and NGOs HC
APDRF 4 to 5 days of eligibility criteria being met ADB developing member countries ADB and affected Governments

UN Flash Appeal is an initial inter-agency humanitarian response strategy and resource mobilization tool based on a rapid appraisal of the disaster situation. The Flash Appeal identifies the common funding requirements of humanitarian actors for the earliest phase of the response, generally for the first three to six months. In cases where emergency response is required for more than six months or in a protracted emergency, the Flash Appeal is extended and transformed into a CAP.

The Flash Appeal in action : the case of the Philippines

Following Tropical Storm Washi in the Philippines in 2011, the UN and humanitarian partners issued a Flash Appeal25 calling for US$ 28.6 million to support the Government of the Philippines to respond to the serious humanitarian needs caused by the storm. The Flash Appeal aimed to provide clean water for drinking and bathing, food, emergency, shelter, and essential household items to 471,000 of the worst affected people in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities for three months.26

Who is it for?

The Flash Appeal can include projects from UN agencies, other international organizations, and NGOs. It may also include project partnerships with the RCRC Movement and/or National Society of the affected country. Government ministries cannot appeal for funds directly through a Flash Appeal, but may be partners identified in UN or NGO projects.

How is it accessed?

The Flash Appeal is initiated by the UN RC or HC in consultation with the HCT and with the support of the UNDAC team, if deployed. In countries without an existing OCHA presence, the nearest regional office and/or OCHA Headquarters supports development of the Flash Appeal.

Consolidated Appeal Process (CAP) is an advocacy and financing tool that brings aid organizations together jointly to plan, coordinate, implement and monitor disaster response. It comprises a common humanitarian action plan and a portfolio of concrete projects necessary to implement that plan. It serves as an ongoing frame of reference and detailed work plan for large-scale, sustained humanitarian action. A Consolidated Appeal is generally launched when humanitarian needs extend beyond the period of a Flash Appeal (usually six months).

Who is it for?

The CAP includes projects implemented by UN agencies, the RCRC Movement, IOM, and NGOs. Governments cannot seek money through the CAP, although it does encourage close cooperation between donors, humanitarian organizations, and host Governments. As with the Flash Appeal, Governments may be identified as partners in implementing specific projects.

How is it accessed?

The CAP is accessed through the HC and HCT and is normally managed in-country through the OCHA office.


While many "fast money" mechanisms are not directly available to affected States, Governments should work closely with the UN, the RCRC Movement and NGOs to ensure the appropriate use of these relief funds.

Bilateral fast track monies are also a very important source of funding available to affected Governments for initial life-saving activities. The amount and details of the funding vary and are generally negotiated on a case-by-case basis between assisting and affected Governments.

Managing information following a disaster is a crucial part of any humanitarian response. Strong information management requires agreed processes and trained personnel to collect, analyze and share information about a disaster situation. Affected people, affected Governments, humanitarian organizations and the media are all sources and users of information in an emergency.

Governments have their own mechanisms for sharing and managing information between emergency response-related agencies and ministries. This section explains how the international humanitarian community manages information in an emergency with a view to helping Governments better understand how the international community functions, and to identify key areas where Governments and international organizations can work together and share information.

The services and tools described below are organized according to the following categories: (a) overall information management; (b) satellite imagery and mapping; (c) and assessment tools.

OCHA Information Management Unit (IMU) and the Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC). In most countries where there are ongoing emergency responses, there is also usually an OCHA country office that also has a dedicated information management capacity, normally in the form of an IMU. This includes technical staff who serve as an information service for the humanitarian community by developing and promoting common standards that enable data exchange between organizations. They consolidate this information to provide an overview of the humanitarian response. They also provide technical support to initiatives such as needs assessments, and publish information products such as contacts lists, meeting schedules and maps. The OCHA-IMU works in close collaboration with information management focal points in Government and in the Cluster lead agencies to aggregate information and provide an overall view of the emergency response. To facilitate this exchange of data, an Information Management Network is often formed which includes IM staff from OCHA, key Government agencies (NDMO, National Statistics Agency, etc.) and cluster lead agencies.

In the case of a very large and complex emergency response, and when adequate information management capacity is not available in the clusters, technical capacity can be increased by deploying a HIC. The HIC would deploy with additional human resources, hardware such as large format plotters, and set up a physical space where relief organizations can manage and share information about an emergency.

What does "information management" mean?

Humanitarian information management is defined as the collection, processing, analysis and dissemination of information to support decision-making and coordination in an emergency.

  1. Collection : Data collection can take many forms, from needs assessments to remote sensing to a review of baseline data.
  2. Processing : Sufficient time and skilled staff must be allocated for data to be processed. For example, before 200 assessment questionnaires can be analysed and used for planning, they must be checked and entered into a database.
  3. Analysis : In an emergency, analysis is usually limited to summarizing information, prioritizing and learning something new. Decision makers require analysis that summarizes a large volume of information and points out key aspects of the emergency situation.
  4. Dissemination : Information needs to be communicated clearly and effectively to a wide audience using the appropriate medium, whether in an e-mail, a report, a map, a briefing or a website.

Preparedness in information management is critical to its effectiveness in an emergency. Preparedness measures can include: collecting key baseline data; establishing an information management network, including NDMOs, national statistics offices, national mapping agencies, OCHA and cluster lead agencies; ensuring that information management is addressed in the contingency plan; and developing a full needs-assessment methodology.

Who is it for?

The OCHA-IMU, as well as the HIC, is for Governments and humanitarian organizations. Information Management capacity in the cluster lead agencies supports cluster members and line ministries.

How is it accessed?

It is accessed in-country through OCHA.

OCHA Situation Report (Sitrep) is an operational document issued by OCHA that provides a snapshot of current needs, response efforts and gaps in an emergency. Sitreps are only issued during the acute phase of an emergency (i.e. at the onset of a new crisis or following the deterioration of an ongoing emergency). They are not used to report on chronic emergencies.27 The OCHA Head of Office, in consultation with the UN RC and/or HC, decides whether a specific disaster event merits a Sitrep. Other OCHA reporting products may also be rolled out to support humanitarian decisionmaking. The Humanitarian Snapshot is an info-graphic (including a full-page map, graphics and textual summaries) that provides timely, visual insight into the situation. The Humanitarian Dashboard is an IASC tool designed to help clusters and HCTs monitor implementation of the response plan over the course of a crisis.

Situation reports are also issued by other entities and organizations involved in humanitarian response, most notably by UN Agencies, international and local NGOs, as well as Regional Organizations such as ASEAN. In countries where OCHA does not have a formal presence the situation reports are often issued by the Office of the UN RC in country. All these sitreps are generally posted and retrievable on the Reliefweb site.

Who is it for?

The Sitrep audience is operational humanitarian actors working inside and outside the affected country, as well as donors, Governments, civil-society organizations, the media and the public.

How is it accessed?

Sitreps are publicly accessible on ReliefWeb and for public access. Interested actors may also subscribe to receive Sitreps issued by OCHA globally (email to request inclusion) and/or in the Asia-Pacific Region (email to request inclusion).

ReliefWeb is a humanitarian website managed by OCHA that provides timely, reliable and relevant information and analysis (documents and maps) on humanitarian emergencies and disasters. It offers a consolidated collection of information consolidated from trusted sources, including international and non-governmental organizations, Governments, research institutions and the media among others, such as news articles, public reports, press releases, appeals, policy documents, analysis and maps related to humanitarian emergencies worldwide. To ensure ReliefWeb is updated around the clock, it maintains offices in three time zones: New York, Bangkok and Nairobi.

Who is it for?

ReliefWeb is publicly accessible.

How is it accessed?

ReliefWeb can be accessed on the web and via RSS, e-mail, Twitter and Facebook.

Financial Tracking Service is a global database maintained by OCHA that records humanitarian contributions (cash and in kind) to emergencies. FTS is a realtime, searchable database that includes all reported international humanitarian aid, with a special focus on CAPs. FTS can only record contributions that are reported to it by donors and recipient entities.

Who is it for?

FTS is publicly accessible.

How is it accessed?

Donor and affected Governments can report contributions via or a form available on the FTS website. Contribution reports are triangulated with reports from recipient agencies to show how contributions are used (i.e. whether they have been committed to a specific CAP, Flash or other appeal). is a humanitarian web-based platform to support inter-cluster coordination and information management in line with the endorsed IASC Operational Guidance on Responsibilities of Cluster/Sector Leads and OCHA Information Management. The main website provides core features for all countries, but also allows clusters to launch sites dedicated to specific disasters and/or countries should they have specific requirements that the main site does not meet. The site is envisaged as a complement to the information management capabilities of national authorities and in-country humanitarian and development actors.

Who is it for?

It is a resource specifically tailored to the needs of clusters but publicly accessible.

How is it accessed?

It is accessed at

ASEAN Disaster Info Network (ADInet) is a disaster web portal and database system for ASEAN nations managed by the AHA Centre. It offers a consolidated collection of information on disasters in the sub-region.

Who is it for?

It is primarily intended for ASEAN member states but is publicly accessible.

How is it accessed?

It is accessed at

South Asian Disaster Knowledge Network (SADKN) is a web portal for the sharing of knowledge and information on disaster risk management in South Asia. SADKN is a network of networks, with one regional and eight national portals, involving all national stakeholders from the SAARC Member States.

Who is it for?

It is for SAARC member states but is publicly accessible.

How is it accessed?

It is accessed through the SAARC SDMC website.

Pacific Disaster Net (PDN) is a disaster web portal and database system for Pacific Island countries that provides information on governance, risk assessment, early warning and monitoring, disaster risk management and training.

Who is it for?

It is for Pacific Island countries but is publicly accessible.

How is it accessed?

It is accessed through SPC at

Satellite imagery can be a powerful tool for analysing the effects of a disaster quickly and over a large area. Mapping is an effective means of analysing and sharing information about the effects of an emergency. Many organizations, including OCHA, have a capacity for mapping data and using satellite imagery. The following tools and services are available to Governments.

Satellite imagery and mapping services in Asia and the Pacific
Name Host Main purpose Access through
UNITAR"s Operational Satellite Applications Programme (UNOSAT) UN Delivers imagery analysis and satellite solutions to UN and non-UN humanitarian organizations.
UN Platform for Space-basedInformation for DisasterManagement & Emergency Response (UN-SPIDER) UN Connects disaster management & space communities; assists Governments in using spacebasedinformation for disaster preparedness
Sentinel Asia Asia-Pacific Regional Space Agency Forum (APRSAF) Supports disaster management activities by applying GIS technology & space-based information
International Charter for Space and Major Disasters Consortium of national space agencies Provides a unified system of space-data acquisition and delivery to people affected by natural or man-made disasters through authorized users
MapAction MapAction Delivers information in mapped form to support decision-making & the delivery of aid
iMMAP iMMAP Provides decision-making support services to national & international actors through mapping & a specialized tool for disaster awareness called the Common Operating Picture (COP) Framework

Multi-Cluster Initial Rapid Assessment (MIRA) is a multi-sector assessment methodology carried out by key humanitarian stakeholders during the first two weeks following a sudden-onset disaster. It aims to provide fundamental information on the needs of affected people and the priorities for international support. The MIRA approach produces a preliminary scenario definition within the first 72 hours following a disaster and a final report within two weeks. MIRA is guided by the IASC Operational Guidance on Coordinated Assessments in Humanitarian Crises , which was produced in 2011.

Who is it for?

MIRA is primarily for HCT use in support of affected Governments.

How is it accessed?

Information on MIRA is available in-country through OCHA, the HC or the UN RC.

Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and Recovery Framework is a Government-led assessment exercise with integrated support from the UN, the European Commission, the World Bank and other national and international actors. It combines into a single consolidated report information on the physical impacts of a disaster; the economic value of damage and loss; the human impacts as experienced by affected people; and the resulting early and long-term recovery needs and priorities.

Who is it for?

It is for affected Governments.

How is it accessed?

Information about PDNA-RF can be accessed through the World Bank's Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction (GFDRR)


In addition to the multi-sectoral assessments described here, there are many other cluster-specific and thematic assessment methodologies and tools that can be employed in an emergency. One example is the Flash Environment Assessment Tool (FEAT) used in identifying acute environmental issues immediately following a disaster.