Thirty-two disaster response experts join the UNDAC network

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, 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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Regional USAR Coordination Course in Belarus

The Special Republican Team of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of Belarus hosted a regional USAR Coordination Course from 31 July to 4 August in Minsk, Belarus. The event was organized and co-facilitated by the Special Republican Team, EMERCOM of Russia and OCHA’s Field Coordination Support Section and the Coordination and Response Division. It brought together 15 participants from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. The training delivery methods included presentations, practical exercises, plenary discussions, group work, as well as a simulation exercise to conclude the course. While the language of instruction for the theoretical part was Russian, the simulation exercise was conducted in English.

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Join the launch of UNDAC Talks on 6 July!

ESB’s Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS) is happy to announce that the first UNDAC Talk will take place on July 6, 2017. These talks are aimed to utilize the extensive knowledge available within the UNDAC Network to the benefit of other UNDAC members, operations support partners, associated members, and more.

The speaker for our first, one hour webinar will be Marcus Elten of OCHA’s Program Support Branch. Marcus will be focusing on how we can strengthen future UNDAC deployments to successfully manage an increasingly crowded response and dynamic data environment, and ensure we provide operational and strategic decision making with top-notch information at the right time with the right focus.

UNDAC Talks will be available on the Webex platform, and will later be recorded and distributed through the UNDAC YouTube Channel and UNDAC social media networks.

Please join us on the 6th to launch the first of many great sessions!

Achilles 2017: Search and Rescue Exercise in Switzerland

The large-scale international training ACHILLES exercise was hosted by Swiss Humanitarian Aid, part of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the Swiss Armed Forces, from 8 – 10 May 2017 in Epeisses, Canton of Geneva. Some 260 specialists and 18 dogs from four countries and five organisations participated in the exercise. Two German USAR Teams, Technisches Hilfswerk (THW) and I.S.A.R. Germany underwent, at the same time, their Re-classification Exercise. The teams successfully completed 36 hours of realistic and intensive field exercise with international expert classifiers engaged in this unique peer review process based on the INSARAG Guidelines and in accordance with GA 57/150 on “Strengthening the effectiveness and coordination of international urban search and rescue assistance”.  


New OSOCC Awareness Online Course launched

ESB’s Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS) has successfully launched the new “OSOCC Awareness Online Course“. The online foundation course offers a basic understanding of the functioning and management of an On Site Operations Coordination Center (OSOCC). Based on the OSOCC Guidelines 2014, it presents and explains the on-site disaster response management and leads through the purpose, roles, structure, principles and functions of the OSOCC system. Divided in three modules, the online training module includes teach screens, practice activities and knowledge tests (at the end of every module), guaranteeing a better understanding of the components of the OSOCC system. Having completed the 3h online course, participants receive a certificate that can be saved and printed.

To access the OSOCC Awareness Online course, click on the following links:

Module 1

Module 2

Module 3


INSARAG Capacity Assessment in Palestine

Upon request of Palestinian Civil Defence (PCD), a Urban Search and Rescue capacity assessment mission has been conducted in Palestine (West Bank and Jerusalem) from 1 to 6 May to assess the capacity of the Palestinian Urban Search and Rescue team. The mission was composed of two experts from the INSARAG network (MSB and Jordanian Civil Defence) as well as OCHA Office in oPt.  Continue reading “INSARAG Capacity Assessment in Palestine”

UNDAC deployed to Iraq for the Mosul dam

The ongoing erosion and lack of maintenance of the Mosul dam has led to a worrisome situation requiring urgent preparedness planning. At the request of OCHA Iraq, a small UNDAC team was deployed to Iraq to support operational preparedness planning for the potential failure of the Mosul dam. The UNDAC Team developed likely scenarios which form the basis for planning assumptions in case of a potential failure of the dam, further feeding into the recommendations. Continue reading “UNDAC deployed to Iraq for the Mosul dam”