Solid consensus within the humanitarian system acknowledges the necessity of simulation exercises (SimEx) as a key parameter in preparing communities to best respond against crises. With the growing number of disasters worldwide, and increasing complexity of protracted crises, the humanitarian community has gradually been overwhelmed by the diversifying needs of affected populations. Types of disasters differ by region and the respective humanitarian demand varies greatly. To tackle this propagating concern, two annual summits bringing together international networks of disaster response experts (HNPW 2015 & 2016) have ascertained the need for enacting a Focus Task Force to create a refined guideline on simulation exercises, and training that better incorporates the different strategic needs of regions worldwide.

OCHA, in collaboration with UK academics, has established a Focus Task Force that will meet at HNPW 2017 to identify policy improvements on disaster response exercises, and to discuss underlining issues with the current SimEx framework and approaches to better establish uniform understanding of coordinating emergency preparedness between international and local stakeholders.

The SimEx sessions will invite lead partners and prominent networks such as DFID, INSARAG, UNDAC, IHP, THW, and AHA, among others. In preparation for the event, OCHA’s Activation and Coordination Support Unit (ACSU) is collaborating with British academics on an analysis of existing simulation exercises and trainings taking place worldwide, with results to be presented at the HNPW. The Focus Task Force will use these findings combined with open inter-network discussions to agree on next steps to be pursued throughout 2017.

Individuals and organizations engaged in disaster response simulation exercises and training are encouraged to visit the hnpw.org website and contact Kotaro Takeda (takedak@un.org) to be a part of this task force.