Introduction and Financial Analysis
OCHA in 2009 is organised into two main parts, structured around the OCHA Strategic Framework 2007-2009. The composition of the first part of the report has changed substantially from previous years. It now focuses on OCHA’s implementation plan, primarily at the headquarters level, according to each of the strategic objectives, rather than by organisational unit. For each element of the Strategic Plan there is a background on the organisation’s approach to the objective and an outline of how results will be achieved and measured, including specific outputs and performance indicators. As in past years, Coordination Activities from the Field details the specific context and plans for regional and field offices, outlining the priority objectives toward which they will work, including relevant outputs and indicators.
As mentioned in the Foreword, the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in a number of countries has resulted in increased needs for OCHA’s coordination services and related resources. Factors including the deterioration in conflict situations and increased food insecurity have resulted in increased budgetary requirements in a number of field offices, including Iraq, Niger, occupied Palestinian territory and Somalia.
With the accelerated degradation of the situation in Afghanistan, it was decided at the end of 2008 that OCHA would open an office there; the detailed requirements for this office are not included in OCHA in 2009 as decisions on the staffing levels and locations of operation within the country will not be finalized until early 2009. In response to natural disasters, new field offices have been established in a number of countries, including Myanmar and Pakistan in 2008. Meanwhile, operations are winding down in Burundi and Timor Leste and OCHA will have handed over residual humanitarian requirements to the integrated United Nations missions in these countries by the end of 2008. As the situation continues to improve in Côte d’Ivoire, Indonesia, Nepal and Uganda, OCHA’s focus in 2009 will be oriented towards a firm transition towards recovery, and plans for appropriately-timed exits.
The most significant changes at headquarters for 2009 relate to areas of high priority for OCHA. The Humanitarian Coordination Strengthening Project, which focuses on reinforcing the capacities of Humanitarian Coordinators and building those of Resident Coordinators to manage humanitarian emergencies, will be further ramped up in 2009. In addition, OCHA will invest in bolstering its evaluation capacity, which looks both at the work of external partners as well as at OCHA’s internal performance. OCHA will continue to build-up its surge capacity, focusing on rapid onset emergencies, as lessons learned from evaluations are applied in this critical area.
OCHA is also working to strengthen its information management (IM) and enhance informed decision-making through the production of more effective analytical tools and standardized reporting, in line with the main recommendations of a year long IM review and an assessment of OCHA's information technology structures. Finally, OCHA has agreed to the establishment of a dedicated capacity to deal with humanitarian financing, a priority resulting from the humanitarian reform. The new Funding and Coordination Section, which was established at the end of 2008, will provide hands-on guidance to field offices managing country-level pooled funds and improve coherence and coordination among humanitarian financing mechanisms.
OCHA’s overall budget for 2009 is US$ 239 million, out of which OCHA is appealing for US$ 227 million. This budget includes the costs of six regional offices, 22 field offices, two liaison offices, and headquarters (in New York and Geneva). The annual allocation of $12.3 million from the UN regular budget will cover approximately five per cent of the overall cost. The overall aim was zero real growth. This budget, a realistic projection of requirements to meet OCHA’s planned activities, represents very limited real growth from the initial extra budgetary requirements for 2008, allowing for cost of living increases which, in many field offices in particular, have been substantial.
The 2009 budget also includes budgetary requests which will be used to defray one-time costs, primarily related to security measures for field offices, and to a lesser degree, the funding of office moves, including the relocation of the headquarters in New York due to the renovation of the Secretariat Building.
OCHA will make use of its initial opening balance of 2008 to cover some of these one-time costs, and to cover part of start-up expenses for 2009, including funding of staff contracts and some first quarter operational costs. However, OCHA seeks donor support to maintain the requisite opening balance that will allow staff contracts and field operations to continue smoothly in the future. It is also remains important that donor contributions are received early in the year to avoid delays in implementation of activities.
OCHA recognizes the generous support of donors and would like to thank them for their contributions enabling the strengthening of effective and principled humanitarian action.