Following four weeks of pre-course learning, 32 participants from 16 countries, OCHA and partner organizations, such as the UN Environment Programme, World Health Organization, World Food Programme, the UN Operational Satellite Applications Programme, the International Organization for Migration and the European Commission’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department, came together for the first UNDAC Induction course of 2017.

Organized by ESB’s Field Coordination Support Section with the support of the Swiss Government, the course took place from 9 to 21 July in Morges, Switzerland and prepared the incoming members for rapid response coordination within an UNDAC team. During the first week, participants operated in team settings and plenary sessions, and familiarized themselves with the UNDAC methodology, practiced coordination skills and reflected on dilemmas in humanitarian response coordination.

During the second week, participants tested their skills in a simulation exercise set in the secretive country of Klanndestan in the aftermath of a strong earthquake. The exercise, now a three-day event, exposes participants to field conditions with accommodation and On-Site Operations Coordination Centres (OSOCCs) in tents, field assessments using the KoBo data collection and analysis tool, role play and the use of “Klanndeweb,” Klanndestan’s controlled internet. The participants, divided into four UNDAC Teams, operating independent of each other, are challenged to set up and support early coordination in support of the Government and the UN, particularly in relation to the coordination of Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) teams and Emergency Medical Teams (EMTs), coordinating assessments, cluster coordination, liaison with the military and dealing with environmental emergencies. The teams also practice providing a range of stakeholders with situation analysis and advice on needs and priorities for response. In doing so, UNDAC members meet and brief local responders and members of the community, government disaster managers, international humanitarian workers, the media, UN officials and high-level visitors.

As always, the simulation exercise was excellently supported by teams from MapAction, DHL and the International Humanitarian Partnership, and for the first time, by staff from Emergency.lu, who had driven their truck with equipment and tents all the way from Luxembourg. In addition, the Swiss Armed Forces and the Morges Fire Brigade supported the simulation with sleeping tents and as emergency response role players.

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