The devastation wrought by Tropical Cyclone Pam, which struck Vanuatu in during the first half of 2015, was a stark reminder of the importance of ensuring that regional and international response mechanisms are not only effectively maintained but that the contribution that they can provide in terms of supporting local and national first response efforts are understood and invested in. For this to be achieved there remains much to do in the Pacific. Discussions held in May within the margins of the Pacific Humanitarian Team meeting in Fiji by the Chief of FCSS with fourteen National Disaster Management Officers underlined the role that UNDAC can play in the Pacific and the commitment of regional emergency managers to invest in the system. 2016 provides a unique opportunity for FCSS to strengthen the UNDAC system in the Pacific and my deployment to the region shows OCHA’s commitment to working towards this end.
In brief, strengthening the UNDAC system in the Pacific will entail a multifaceted approach which will include furthering the understanding of the UNDAC system, and other international response mechanisms that come into play in emergencies; the identification of new members for the UNDAC family; and, presenting opportunities for existing UNDAC members to contribute to the network. Further, operational support plays a significant role in strengthening UNDACs ability to respond in an emergency. At present, there remains limited options in the Pacific, and, more broadly, in Asia that can be called upon to support responders during emergencies. Work is underway to strengthen complementary systems, provided by countries in the region, to support UNDAC and the wider humanitarian community in preparing for, and responding to, newly developing emergencies.