Airport efficiency: addressing challenges in relief operations

The Focus Task Force on Airport efficiency, created during the third Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week (6-10 February 2017) in Geneva, has produced a report on the latest developments on their area of focus. Over the past months, a series of interviews to humanitarian experts have been conducted to identify the core issues that need to be addressed by the task force in the upcoming months. The report includes some of the most common challenges identified, as well as a plan of action for the months leading to the next Humanitarian Networks and Partnerships Week in early 2018.

Download the report here.

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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JEU conducts environmental risk assessment mission in Benin

The Joint Environment Unit supported UN Environment in the organization of a scoping mission to Benin in response to legacy pollution from abandoned oil platforms. The mission was conducted at the request of the Benin Minister of Environment.

The mission confirmed that the offshore oil platforms are in a state of advanced disintegration. Also, the network of pipelines between the platforms, onshore facilities and export facilities have not been maintained or systematically inspected since 1998. Likely scenarios of an oil spill were discussed with officials of the Government of Benin, including leakage from the subsea pipeline, loss of control of one of the ten wells or a ship crashing onto the abandoned facilities in bad weather.

An oil spill from these facilities can cause great damage to the environment and threaten local fishery communities. Fish is the most important source of animal protein in the diet of the Beninese households, of which more than one third are food insecure (WFP). The fishing sector in Benin generates also 600,000 direct and indirect jobs (FAO, 2008). With the Nigerian coastline only 30 kilometers away, transboundary impacts are very likely.

While waiting to raise funds for full dismantling, recommendations to increase preparedness and reduce liability are under development, including the establishment of a national contingency plan and a national coordination mechanism in the event of an oil spill.Benin_DSC_0095

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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UN-CMCoord eCourse Live in Malaysia

The UN-CMCoord eCourse Live was conducted from 17 to 21 July 2017 at the Malaysian Peacekeeping Training Centre (MPC), which brought together 30 participants from Malaysia, Brunei, Pakistan, Vietnam, UK and the US. This collaborative event was put together by the OCHA Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific (ROAP) and OCHA’s Civil-Military Coordination Section, US PACOM’s Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (CFE-DM) and MPC. The course had a blended learning approach where the online components were reinforced on-site with case studies, scenario-based exercises and a synthesis exercise.

Interesting findings coming out from the group exercises Credit: CMCS/RR

CMCS collaborates with peacekeeping training centre in Mali

From 2 to 13 July, two CMCS staff worked with the Ecole de Maintien de la Paix (EMP) in Bamako, Mali. The EMP is one of the three key peacekeeping training centres in West Africa, training blue helmets and police on a regional level to perform in peace operations. Together with the EMP, CMCS redesigned the UN-CIMIC Training Course for peacekeepers harmonizing it with international training standards as stipulated by the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). DPKO New York will conduct an on-site review of the course in autumn to certify the UN-CIMIC Course for formal UN recognition. This project will have a direct impact on the ground, carrying humanitarian messaging to UN-CIMIC Officers prior to deployment.

Anne-Sophie Allegre, Marie-Sophie Reck at the EMP/Credit: Paterne Petipe

Launch of the ReliefWeb page on Environment and Humanitarian Action

A new topic page on Environment and Humanitarian Action has been launched on ReliefWeb, after the phasing out of the platform, which was previously hosting content on this topic. It is expected that the new topic page will reach a higher number of humanitarian users. The content published on this page is complementary to the information presented on and the Environmental Emergencies Centre.