By the end of 2012, OCHA’s institutional preparedness was strengthened and all OCHA regional offices (ROs) had integrated the Minimum Preparedness Package (MPP) into their work. For the first time, ROs will report on 2012 activities against a new set of indicators related to the MPP. However, country offices (COs) still require systematic support in rolling out this approach, particularly in prolonged conflict situations. Preparedness work at country level has been consistent with the MPP goals.
At the inter-agency level, a major milestone was achieved with the integration of the new Emergency Response Preparedness approach as part of the Transformative Agenda protocols, thus instituting a broad methodology for systemic preparedness including Minimum Preparedness Actions, contingency planning and immediate response Standard Operating Procedures. The newly adopted IASC Common Framework for national capacity strengthening has given new impetus to linking preparedness efforts to longer-term development goals. The same is true for the resilience country pilot, jointly developed by OCHA and UNDP under the UK-led Political Champions Initiative.
Evaluations by OIOS and an independent team on OCHA’s role in preparedness have given mixed results. They commended OCHA on its innovative approaches in responding to increased preparedness demands, but pointed to important shortfalls in attaining objectives set by the Strategic Framework.
YEAR IN REVIEW
OCHA continued to support the humanitarian system in enhancing emergency preparedness, including for national and regional partners, while also pursuing institutional preparedness targets.
All OCHA regional offices have integrated the MPP into their preparedness work, and some started developing tracking systems that will be pursued to develop a global analysis and tracking system. For the first time, ROs reported on their preparedness activities in 2012 according to corporate MPP indicators.
By the end of the year, OCHA was implementing the MPP in 29 at-risk countries: two in Central Asia, four in East Africa, six in the Middle East and North Africa, four in Asia Pacific, seven in West and Central Africa and six in Latin America. Selection was based on risk, vulnerability and capacity using OCHA’s country-prioritization tool: the Global Focus Model. The support focused on training in assessment and analysis of humanitarian needs, development of strategic response plans and development of inclusive humanitarian coordination structures. This is to ensure that HCTs and Governments can deliver on key response outcomes. OCHA also facilitated drafting of contingency plans in at least 26 of the 29 countries to anticipate possible or emerging crises. This was the case in Kenya ahead of the March 2013 elections, where OCHA supported national authorities with the humanitarian pillar of the contingency plan. In the Middle East, OCHA took a regional approach to support contingency planning for Syria, Libya, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Egypt/Gaza and Tunisia. It also partnered with the regional group of agencies to train trainers on contingency planning and simulation to build capacity, with a view to providing support where needed.
To ensure that adequate support is provided to meet preparedness requirements in different contexts, OCHA improved its overall understanding of the state of response preparedness globally. To support this, OCHA analysed the state of readiness in 70 countries. The mapping assisted OCHA and inter-agency partners in prioritizing and designing support programmes that respond to the field realities, and to ensure that guidance and support tools are targeted at meeting preparedness needs. OCHA will continue and improve on this process in 2013.
Through a survey of its COs in mid-2012, OCHA gained further understanding of the complexity of achieving preparedness objectives in crisis situations where the focus is on response. During the year, OCHA headquarters entities provided specific support to the implementation of the MPP approach through field visits and advisory services to its COs in Afghanistan and Pakistan. OCHA also focused on strengthening regional organizations’ disaster preparedness capacity. Most of this work is delivered by OCHA at regional and country level, but headquarters’ support is provided in specialized areas such as environmental emergencies. This was seen in the joint initiative between OCHA and ASEAN to organize a regional workshop on environmental emergencies, which brought together ASEAN environment and disaster management managers to discuss priority risks and needs. The outcome included a two-year workplan to strengthen national/regional capacities in environmental emergency response.
In the past year, OCHA examined how far it has come in relation to pursuing its Strategic Framework preparedness objectives. In this context, other external evaluations took place: an OCHA-commissioned independent preparedness evaluation, the OIOS five-year retrospective of OCHA and reviews of the work of its ROs. UNDP commissioned a review of the OCHA/ISDR/UNDP CADRI partnership. Some of these evaluations have yet to be finalized, but they have allowed the organization to take stock of achievements while also recognizing constraints and gaps.
In December 2012, a preparedness workshop examined preliminary findings of these studies, particularly the OCHA-commissioned preparedness evaluation. The study commended OCHA on its innovative approaches in responding to preparedness demands, particularly at regional and country levels. However, it pointed to significant shortfalls in attaining the objectives initially set by the Strategic Framework. Against this background, an OCHA internal task force on preparedness has been requested to make policy, structural and functional recommendations to the Senior Management Team (SMT) by the end of February 2013 on the basis of re-mapping OCHA’s role in preparedness.
In the IASC, the pursuit of the Transformative Agenda has given new impetus to the role of preparedness in the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC). OCHA engaged with its agency partners in defining requirements of an effective response, such as the concept of empowered leadership, procedures for system-wide emergency activation, rapid response and accountability, all of which are essential ingredients of emergency readiness. OCHA facilitated an IASC midyear Level 3 simulation exercise, and inter-agency missions to South Sudan and Chad tested progress and gaps in operationalizing the HPC. In June 2013, OCHA established the new Programme Support Branch (PSB) to bring under one roof OCHA headquarters’ contribution to strengthening the HPC. PSB helped achieve a major milestone at the end of the year with the integration of the new IASC Emergency Response Preparedness concept as part of the TA protocols. The traditional IASC Contingency Planning Guidelines are part of a wider process, starting with preparedness according to Minimum Preparedness Actions, contingency planning and immediate response planning. The new OCHA policy on emergency response as a result of the TA will help clarify OCHA’s role in preparedness.
In December, the IASC Principals endorsed the common framework to support national preparedness capacity-building, which had been the IASC SWG’s focus since 2011. This included OCHA-supported country pilot exercises in the Philippines and Haiti in 2012.
OCHA linked its mandate to longer-term goals through its participation in the Political Champions for Resilience initiative led by the UK Government. OCHA defined its resilience-related role as being focused on emergency preparedness, early humanitarian action and transition towards recovery. OCHA and development actors also created a country pilot initiative under the joint lead of UNDP and OCHA. Its regional offices have developed strong collaboration with regional and inter-governmental organizations in preparedness. This endeavour has become an essential complement to the country-level preparedness work done by ROs and COs. Preparedness efforts across OCHA, at inter-agency level and among Member States, are progressing in anticipation of wider developments, as reflected by ongoing consultations around the post-Hyogo Framework.
In parallel, OCHA engaged with donors in preparedness initiatives launched by the Good Humanitarian Donorship Group and the German ODSG chairmanship, contributing to donors’ reinforced awareness of requirements and gaps in supporting emergency preparedness.
- Objective 1.1 - Member States and Regional Organizations
- Objective 1.2 - Operational Partners
- Objective 1.3 - Preparedness
- Objective 1.4 - Analysis and System-Wide Learning
- Objective 2.1 - Accountable Humanitarian Coordination Leaders
- Objective 2.2 - Scaling Up and Drawing Down Operations
- Objective 2.3 - Tools and Services
- Objective 2.4 - The Humanitarian Programme Cycle
- Objective 3.1 - Funding and Financial Management
- Objective 3.2 - Surge and Staffing Solutions
- Objective 3.3 - Organizational Learning for Results