SIMEX Series is the UK’s largest annual international disaster response exercise. It is an operational (live controlled) field exercise designed to establish a learning environment for players to exercise disaster event response plans, policies and procedures. Player participation comprises of; activate, mobilize, respond operationally on scene, report (internally and externally), implement short and medium-term plans, hand-over, demobilize and complete after-action reviews. UNDAC members Ronald Christiaans (Team Leader, Netherlands), Paul Rock (Deputy Team Leader, Ireland), Gert Teder (Estonia), James Brown (UK), Kenny Meester (Netherland), two british MapAction experts, six students in the role of representatives of NGO´s and one OCHA staff participated in the annual SIMEX exercise from 15-17 May, 2018. Besides testing the regular UNDAC working procedures, the exercise was an excellent opportunity to experiment new technologies for the UNDAC team. For more information, please click here: http://simexseries.org/.
ERSB ensures the members of the UNDAC system are response-ready at all times. This includes providing them with mandatory refresher courses to guarantee they are kept abreast with the latest developments in humanitarian response and the UNDAC methodology.
The third UNDAC Refresher Course was held from 24 to 29 June at the Central American Search and Rescue Academy in San Jose, Costa Rica. The course, hosted by the National Emergencies Commission and the National Fire Service, brought together 37 members of the UNDAC system in the Americas Region.
The participants hit the ground running with a simulation exercise and were immersed in a disaster setting for the first three days. This was followed by two days of roundtable and debriefing. In spite of the heavy rain and flooding of the OSOCCs, the UNDAC teams and support partners from the Americas Support Team, the White Helmets and MapAction successfully coped with the elements and the disaster scenarios. Well done!
ERSB, together with OCHA Regional Office in Nairobi and OCHA Madagascar, concluded a series of trainings facilitated by Laurent de Pierrefeu, UNDAC member from France, on Information Management and Emergency Operation Center/OSOCC for Malagasy authorities in Antananarivo. It was two weeks of intense work, together with committed and passionate staff from several Ministries and departments involved in disaster management. We look forward to go back again for a second round of trainings at provincial level!
The 2018 Global UNDAC Induction course was held from April 29 until May 11 in Morges, Switzerland in partnership with the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation. This training consisted of two weeks of breakout sessions of the different elements of the UNDAC Methodology in the first week and SIMEX exercises in the second week. In total, 32 new UNDAC members from all over the world, working in different organizations, were inducted into the UNDAC system and prepared for rapid deployment using the UNDAC Methodology for sudden-onset emergencies.
UNDAC support partners contributing to UNDAC assessments and situation analysis, (REACH, ACAPS, MapAction, UNOSAT), met in Geneva, from 18 to 19 April 2018, for a workshop led by OCHA’s Needs Assessments and Analysis Section (NAAS). The aim of the meeting was to further develop and agree joint assessment and analysis work following sudden onset disasters and methodology. The workshop is part of UNDAC’s initiatives to ensure a well-coordinated collaboration between partners that each have their specific strengths in mapping, remote sensing, data analysis and assessment, particularly within the first 72 hours of a crisis. The discussions led to a number of follow up actions, including an update of the OSOCC Assessment & Analysis Cell Strategy and harmonization of questionnaires, Terms of Reference for virtual/remote support.
The On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC) Operations course, held from 27 to 31 May 2018 in Netanya, Israel, trained both emergency response generalists and operational specialists to perform their respective OSOCC roles in the immediate aftermath of an emergency. The course was facilitated by two Israeli UNDAC members along with one UNDAC member from Norway, Rolf Bakken, one member from Netherlands, Martin Evers, and one member from Germany, Thorsten Meier. George Murray and Martijn Viersma supported ERSB.
The National Emergency Management Authority of Israel (NEMA) has offered to host another course in 2019, which may have a more specific tailoring to the region itself. A proposal along these lines will be submitted to NEMA by August 2018.
This year, UNDAC is commemorating its 25th year anniversary with the launch of a global campaign called “Ready to go”. As part of the campaign, for each month of 2018, a different UNDAC mission and different UNDAC members are being celebrated for their unique contributions over the 25 years of UNDAC. The UNDAC missions currently being showcased on their anniversary months are:
– January: The Haiti Earthquake in 2010 heavily affected the country with a 7.2 magnitude earthquake killing over 220,000 people. 13 UNDAC members, including Jesper Holmer Lund, were deployed to Haiti and arrived within 48 hours of the earthquake to assist the government while it was grappling with the disaster and shock created by this large-scale sudden disaster.
– February: Cyclone Winston in Fiji , on 20 February 2016, was the most powerful tropical cyclone to ever hit Fiji. 13 UNDAC members deployed to Fiji to give strong support to the government, civil military coordination and strategic planning on high quality data. UNDAC member and team leader Sebastian Rhodes Stampa recounts how severe the destruction in Fiji was and the resilience of the government in its response through the national disaster management team.
– March: In March 2017, Peru experienced ten times the amount of rain it would usually have during the rainy season. This caused landslides and floods for three months displacing nearly 300,000 people. Fernando Hesse, Martin Miguel Torres and Jose Luis German were among the UNDAC members deployed to Peru to support the government in the coordination of the humanitarian response.
– April: On 25 April 2018, Nepal had a major 7.8 magnitude earthquake and more than 300 aftershocks which affected 8 million people and killed more than 8,880 people. UNDAC members Marcus Elten and Markus Werne were on the ground providing timely assessment analysis and supporting the coordination of the multitude of incoming humanitarian organizations coming in the country.
– May: On 2 may 2008, Cyclone Nargis made landfall in Myanmar and caused the worst natural disaster in the recorded history of the country. UNDAC member Jemilah Mahmood discusses on her experience in Myanmar and the importance of sometimes taking a step back as a leader and letting the local organizations take the lead.
– June: On this month, the focus was on what it is like to be in the UNDAC family of international first emergency responders. For Agnes Palacio and Nini Talai, UNDAC member from the Philippines and Papua New Guinea respectively, the best part is to know you are contributing for the greater good which comes with a sense of responsibility and accountability.
– July: Whether in a UNDAC team or other response teams, the Go-Bag is very important for a member of an emergency response team. Through interviews, some UNDAC members have shared some essential items in their Go-Bags they cannot leave home without.
Currently, we are working on an exhibition on the UNDAC 25 years anniversary that will take place during the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. For more details on the UNDAC 25 year commemoration campaign, please visit the website: http://readytogo.undac.org/.