In response to the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Ecuador on 16 April, OCHA received a request to deploy a UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team. After contacting the Government through INSARAG focal points and the UN Resident Coordinator through OCHA’s Regional Office, a 16-person UNDAC team and 12 support team members from Télécoms Sans Frontières, MapAction, Americas Support Team, Handicap International, as well as an associate expert from the European Union, were deployed. The first UNDAC team members arrived on 17 April.
The team provided direct coordination and assessment support to the Government of Ecuador, by establishing an On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) in Portoviejo, a Sub-OSOCC in Pedernales, and Reception/Departure Centre (RDC) at Manta Airport. An advisory presence in Guayaquil and a coordination support team in the capital Quito were also established to provide support to the Humanitarian Country Team and ensure close linkages with the Government coordination structure. The overall priority was clearly to support and advise the Government in its lead coordination role, particularly throughout the urban search and rescue phase, with more than 14 international teams having deployed, as well as in needs assessments at field and capital level. The team also ensured close coordination with the Emergency Medical Team coordination structures, run by the Ministry of Health and supported by Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Furthermore, OCHA and the Humanitarian Country Team prepared a Flash Appeal requesting USD 73 million which. The Appeal was launched by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Stephen O’Brien during his visit to Ecuador on 20 April.