The Southern Africa region experienced several major natural disasters in 2012. Cyclones, storms and floods severely affected Madagascar, Mozambique and the Comoros, affecting over 553,700 people and killing 160. The region also experienced one of the worst food insecurity situations in years, affecting more than 8 million people. In Madagascar, severe food insecurity was exacerbated by locust infestations. Malnutrition rates continued to be extremely high in many countries, with nearly half of all children suffering from chronic malnutrition in Malawi, Mozambique and Madagascar.
Political instability continued to be a serious concern in countries such as Madagascar, Zimbabwe, Malawi, the Comoros and Swaziland. Cross-border migration continued to increase people’s vulnerability in the region. Because many migrants do not fit the criteria that define people’s rights to assistance (many are economic migrants in search of a better life, often in urban centres), once they cross an international border, Governments and humanitarian partners struggle to find ways to address humanitarian needs.
Of the 33 least-developed countries in Africa, eight are in southern Africa. In addition, middle-income countries in the region often lack the capacity to respond effectively to humanitarian crises, and UN Country Teams (UNCTs) have limited resources and influence.
In 2012, ROSA’s package of Minimum Preparedness Actions (which forms the basis of the OCHA-wide MPP) was offered to countries to guide disaster preparedness. During the year, 10 UN Resident Coordinator’s Offices (UNRCOs) requested ROSA support in preparedness activities, such as contingency planning, mainstreaming gender and protection, IM training and accessing internationally available humanitarian resources, and reviewing national legal frameworks. Of particular relevance was the regional training for facilitators on emergency preparedness and inter-agency simulation, and the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and Flash Appeal training.
ROSA assisted authorities in Botswana, Madagascar Namibia, Tanzania and Zanzibar in testing their contingency plans, and a regional pandemic preparedness and response exercise was jointly organized with the World Food Programme and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). ROSA and the Regional Inter-Agency Coordination Support Office supported the annual SADC Disaster Risk Reduction Preparedness & Response Planning Workshop, which discussed humanitarian concerns in the region, such as food security and the relationship between migration, climate change and environment. ROSA also supported the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies and SADC in organizing training on international disaster response laws, with ROSA’s Protection Capacity Senior Adviser facilitating a session on gender and protection.
ROSA provided support to the SADC Regional Vulnerability Assessment Committee in strengthening the institutional framework for urban vulnerability analysis and shaping a unified approach to assessing urban vulnerability.
ROSA helped UNRCOs and UNCTs to improve planning, monitoring and accountability of humanitarian action to ensure that effective, efficient, coordinated humanitarian assistance is provided to people in need. This led to significant improvements in regional data-sharing to support humanitarian decision-making.
In Madagascar, ROSA helped the humanitarian community develop indicators to measure the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in the country. It also guided the creation of a coordination mechanism on drought contingency planning. This included possible protection issues and recommendations related the impact of upcoming elections and the activities of Dahalo (armed groups often involved in cattle rustling). ROSA also provided support for urban contingency planning for the capital, Antananarivo.
ROSA deployed staff to the Comoros and led an UNDAC team to support the emergency response to floods. Staff also deployed to Angola and Malawi to support the development of CERF applications, and to Lesotho to develop a CERF application and Flash Appeal/Response Plan. In Angola, OCHA supported the efforts of the Government and humanitarian partners to strengthen coordination mechanisms.
Regular regional updates were also produced during the flood season, while Humanitarian Bulletins and Flash Updates were issued, improving resource mobilization. ROSA ensured that all country submissions for resource mobilization included gender considerations.
ROSA worked to raise local funding for humanitarian action throughout the region. In 2012, donor contributions from the region totalled US$6,755,505 ($20,000,000 was pledged). Mauritius and South Africa contributed to the Comoros and Madagascar response; Botswana contributed to the Syria crisis response; Mozambique, South Africa and Tanzania contributed to CERF and to the Somali crisis response; and Zambia contributed to humanitarian action in Kenya.
OCHA also worked to strengthen partnerships for improved emergency preparedness and response in the region. Non-traditional partners, such as China and South Africa, supported the Lesotho Flash Appeal. The private sector in Madagascar contributed to the local flood response.