Foreword

2011 was an important year for the humanitarian community and for OCHA. There was barely a moment when our community was not faced with a relentless series of natural disasters, political crises and chronic emergencies.

But in the midst of this, we achieved something quite remarkable. At the end of December, humanitarian response partners, UN agencies, NGOs and the International Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement agreed on a series of reforms that focused on making our response efforts faster and more effective.

The timing was right. 2011 marked the twentieth anniversary of General Assembly resolution 46/182, which created the modern humanitarian system.

It was also a period of significant international change. Many of our traditional donor countries were affected by the global economic crisis. Political protests evolved into a year-long, region-wide series of uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East, with significant humanitarian consequences in Libya, Yemen and Syria. And persistent conflict continued in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan and elsewhere, affecting millions of people.

This report shows how OCHA responded to these significant challenges. We sought to establish stronger leadership more quickly. We worked with new partners, and stronger relationships were built worldwide between international agencies and national and regional authorities, which are increasingly taking the lead in preparedness-and-response efforts.

The progress made in 2011, and OCHA’s continued internal reforms, offer hope that the goal of a rational, coordinated and effective aid system is within our reach.

Valerie Amos visits drought-affected refugees in Dadaab Refugee Camp in Kenya. © OCHA