Emergency Preparedness

Emergency preparedness within the region

Since 2007, the OCHA Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) has prioritized emergency response preparedness as one of its key functions. OCHA ROSA has actively promoted and supported countries to implement a minimum package of preparedness actions by providing multi-faceted support at the regional level, in collaboration with the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), and at the national level with their Member States and international cooperating partners.

The minimum preparedness actions (MPA) cover hazard and risk analysis, operational frameworks (contingency planning, information management, simulation and resource mobilization) and legal frameworks (institutional and disaster risk management acts, etc.).

The new approach to emergency response preparedness

OCHA provides MPA to SADC Member States and their implementing cooperating partners:

The main features of the new approach are:

  1. More comprehensive contingency plans based on priority risks.
  2. Strengthened coordination at regional and national levels.
  3. National-level implementation based on lessons learned, contingency planning and simulation exercises.
  4. National-level information management (IM) strategy development, and IM training and data preparedness.
  5. Monitoring country readiness.

Minimum Preparedness Actions (MPA)

Guided by the new approach, the revised ROSA MPA offers the following key activity areas: hazard risk analysis; contingency planning; IM; resource mobilization; coordination mechanisms and structures; and institutional and legislative frameworks.

Guiding principles for the MPA

OCHA regional offices support UN RCs, but ROSA believes that a more effective and sustainable approach to emergency response preparedness should be based on four guiding principles: Government led; inclusive and participatory; knowledge-based resource; and integrated and comprehensive.

  1. GOVERNMENT LED AT REGIONAL AND NATIONAL LEVELS FOR SUSTAINABILITY: Using Governments as the entry point for emergency preparedness and response has also proven a more effective way to harness the UN system into joint and common action. This approach helps to build greater political will within the region to prioritize disaster risk reduction in national budgeting and planning priorities. It also helps to create commitment, synergy and coherence in approaches across the region.
  2. INCLUSIVE AND PARTICIPATORY: Combining OCHA and SADC’s convening roles allows Member States, the UN system, non‐governmental organizations, the Red Cross Movement and civil society, both at the regional and national level, to jointly set clear preparedness objectives, plan to meet them and undertake regular reviews of progress made, on the basis of which course corrections can be made. OCHA ensures all partners participate in this process. The fully consultative nature of the process will get significant buy‐in from the agencies.
  3. KNOWLEDGE-BASED RESOURCE: Related to the above, OCHA also ensures that other actors are brought into the process in recognition that knowledge and IM are crucial to meet humanitarian response planners’ needs. It also facilitates continuous dialogue among humanitarian actors and the technological and scientific communities to monitor emerging disasters and plan for possible impacts in all key sectors.
  4. INTEGRATED AND COMPREHENSIVE APPROACH TO PREPAREDNESS: Minimum preparedness actions are important, but they alone cannot effectively reduce the impacts of disasters. Poor or lack of national legislative frameworks can significantly hinder the response. Additionally, without the prevention and mitigation efforts agencies are supposed to support and coordinate, countries will continually be faced with disasters that are known, seasonal and cyclical in nature, and which therefore could be avoided. Also, the increasing frequency of these disasters continues to deepen and compound vulnerability in the region annually in a vicious cycle. Therefore, ROSA also supports SADC and its Member States in establishing regional and national legislative and institutional frameworks and capacities by strengthening its collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)/ Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery (BCPR) for support to countries.

In short, the MPA covers operational preparedness and institutional and legal preparedness.