The Indian Ocean sub-region is extremely vulnerable to a number of hazards, including tropical cyclones, floods, droughts and strong winds. OCHA, the Indian Ocean Commission (IOC) and UNDP are working to establish an Indian Ocean Regional Humanitarian Partnership Team, which could be quickly deployed to respond to emergencies in the five IOC member countries of Madagascar, Seychelles, Comoros, Mauritius and Reunion (France).
In Mauritius, OCHA’s Emergency Services Branch (ESB) supported a workshop mapping of staff and equipment functions and capacities in the region. The workshop, organized between 4 and 6 November by the IOC, OCHA’s Regional Office for Southern Africa and UNDP Comoros brought together representatives from civil protection organizations from the Seychelles, Mauritius, Comoros and Madagascar; UN Resident Coordinator Offices, from the sub-region, World Food Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, as well as PIROI – a Red Cross/Red Crescent network for humanitarian assistance in the region supported by the French Red Cross. The Head of OCHA Regional Office for the Pacific shared the experience of the Pacific Humanitarian Team, which could serve as a successful example for the Indian Ocean.
As part of its support to this regional initiative, ESB also conducted a course on the UNDAC Emergency Response Methodology in Madagascar from 30 November to 4 December. The training, organised together with the OCHA Regional Office for Southern Africa and UNDP Comoros, aimed to strengthen response capacities of the regional Humanitarian Partnership Team. The 27 participants included Malagasy, Mauritian and Comoran disaster managers from national civil protection organizations, as well as and humanitarian personnel from UN agencies (UNICEF, WFP and FAO), NGOs (CARE, Catholic Relief Service), and the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The participants were trained not only in the UNDAC methodology as it applies to coordination, information management and assessment, but also in the use of related tools and services, such as the On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC), the Reception/Departure Centre and the Virtual OSOCC.