What is UNDAC?
UNDAC was created in 1993. It is designed to help the United Nations and governments of disaster-affected countries during the first phase of a sudden-onset emergency. UNDAC also assists in the coordination of incoming international relief at national level and/or at the site of the emergency.
UNDAC teams can deploy at short notice (12-48 hours) anywhere in the world. They are provided free of charge to the disaster-affected country, and deployed upon the request of the United Nations Resident or Humanitarian Coordinator and/or the affected Government.
Assessment, coordination and information management are UNDAC's core mandates in an emergency response mission. Specifically in response to earthquakes, UNDAC teams set up and manage the On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) to help coordinate international Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams responding to the disaster - essential if USAR assistance is to function effectively. This concept was strongly endorsed in United Nations General Assembly resolution 57/150 of 16 December 2002, on “Strengthening the effectiveness and coordination of international urban search and rescue assistance”.
The UNDAC system comprises four components:
- Staff: Experienced emergency managers made available for UNDAC missions by their respective governments or organizations. UNDAC members are specially trained and equipped for their task.
- Methodology: Pre-defined methods for establishing coordination structures, and for organizing and facilitating assessments and information management during the first phase of a sudden-onset disaster or emergency.
- Procedures: Proven systems to mobilize and deploy an UNDAC team to arrive at the disaster or emergency site within 12-48 hours of the request.
Equipment: Personal and mission equipment for UNDAC teams to be self-sufficient in the field when deployed for disasters/emergencies.
|UNDAC Handbook [English (2013) - French (2006) Spanish (2013)] Interactive PDF file - Download Epub file|
|UNDAC concept paper [English - French - Spanish]|
|UNDAC Terms of Reference|
|UNDAC Disaster Response Preparedness Missions - Selection criteria|
|UNDAC Missions table|
Managing the UNDAC system
The UNDAC system is managed by the Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS) in the Emergency Services Branch of OCHA Geneva. The system comprises three regional teams: Europe-Africa-Middle East; the Americas (including the Caribbean); and Asia-Pacific. Check our Contacts for a complete list of regional focal points.
Member countries of the UNDAC system meet annually at a gathering of the UNDAC Advisory Board. The board is composed of the member countries that financially support their participation in the UNDAC system by depositing funds with OCHA through “mission accounts”. These funds cover the deployment costs of their national UNDAC members on UNDAC missions. Representatives of international and regional organizations who participate in the UNDAC system are also invited.
As of 2011, the UNDAC Advisory Board will include additional countries – as observers – from among those countries that, although not self-financing members, have demonstrated their interest and commitment to the system in other ways, such as through hosting UNDAC-related events or other forms of support.
As of December 2010, UNDAC has conducted 207 emergency missions in over 90 countries (see latest UNDAC mission table). OCHA mobilizes UNDAC teams mostly in the event of a natural disaster, when a disaster-affected country requests international assistance and requires additional international coordination resources. OCHA also mobilizes UNDAC teams in complex emergencies - when there is a sudden onset or change in the intensity of a complex emergency that is likely to result in an unforeseen requirement for additional international coordination resources.
The deployment and detailed tasks of an UNDAC team are decided in consultation with the national Government and/or the Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator. The team normally stays in the affected area for the initial response phase, which can be up to three weeks in a natural disaster.
UNDAC disaster response preparedness missions
The UNDAC team can also undertake disaster response preparedness missions. Such missions evaluate the national disaster preparedness and response capacity and plans upon request specific request from a Government. To date, the UNDAC team has carried out 16 of these missions worldwide.