OCHA in Myanmar

        A child stands in for of her family's shelter in a camp for displaced people in Maina Township, Kachin State. Credit: OCHA/P.Peron A child stands in for of her family's shelter in a camp for displaced people in Maina Township, Kachin State. Credit: OCHA/P.Peron

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is the part of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. OCHA's mission is to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors in order to alleviate human suffering in disasters and emergencies. OCHA advocates for the rights of people in need, promote preparedness and prevention, and facilitates sustainable solutions.

The OCHA Myanmar Country Office was established in May 2008 in response to Cyclone Nargis. In view of the prevailing situation of Myanmar, a country prone to disasters, OCHA maintained its presence in the country after the end of Cyclone Nargis to focus on issues related to its core mandate, including support to humanitarian coordination at central and local levels, advocacy, humanitarian access, and principled humanitarian action. OCHA works closely with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement on disaster preparedness and response, and actively supports Government efforts aimed at ensuring a more systematic, inclusive, and coordinated approach to humanitarian challenges in Myanmar.

Humanitarian Coordination
OCHA provides coordination and support to the humanitarian community as secretariat to the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT), which was established in 2010 and has helped improve joint and coordinated planning among United Nations agencies, the Red Cross movement and international and national NGOs involved in humanitarian response. OCHA participates in thematic and geographical working groups, such as humanitarian clusters, to ensure that humanitarian concerns and cross-cutting issues are shared and addressed. OCHA contributes, along with members of the HCT, to the formulation of action plans and strategic documents such as the Myanmar Humanitarian Response Plan to ensure common and coordinated approaches to humanitarian issues in Myanmar.

Reporting and Advocacy
OCHA monitors the humanitarian situation nationwide, enabling partners to respond to humanitarian needs effectively and in a timely manner, particularly in emergency situations. OCHA issues emergency situation reports and humanitarian bulletins, while regularly briefing donors and humanitarian partners. OCHA works closely with the Myanmar Information Management Unit (MIMU) to ensure that humanitarian community receives timely and relevant information products to support planning and decision-making. OCHA has a unique mandate to speak out on behalf of the people worst affected by humanitarian situations. Working with a wide range of partners, OCHA helps to identify the issues that need to be highlighted. To OCHA, advocacy means communicating the right messages to the right people at the right time. These people include humanitarian agencies, NGOs, community-based organizations, national governments, local and international media, parties to conflict, companies, donors, regional bodies, communities affected by emergencies and the general public.

Disaster Preparedness
Myanmar is one of the countries at highest risk of natural disasters in South East Asia. OCHA works closely with the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement (MSWRR) to ensure a more systematic, inclusive and coordinated approach in disaster management and preparedness and response initiatives, and mobilizes resources for the humanitarian partners. One of the activities prioritized by the Government’s 2009 Myanmar Action Plan for Disaster Risk Reduction is the setting up of three Emergency Operations Centres (in Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon and Mandalay). OCHA is supporting the establishment of the first Emergency Operations Centre in the capital. Strong and solid coordination when responding to a disaster is key for reaching the affected population in an effective and efficient manner and the Emergency Operations Centre will be at the heart of the government response.

Humanitarian Financing
OCHA continues to facilitate the submission and reporting on grants from the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) and supports agencies in advocacy for essential funding needs for humanitarian operations. OCHA also continues to manage the Myanmar Emergency Response Fund (ERF) which is a country-based pooled funding mechanism which enables the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator to provide timely assistance to urgent or chronic humanitarian needs of people affected by natural disaster or conflict. OCHA ensures the accuracy and regular updating of funding reporting for Myanmar on the Financial Tracking Service (FTS), which can be found online at http://fts.unocha.org.

Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement
Ministry of Border Affairs
Humanitarian Country Team
UN Country Team
International non-governmental organisations (NGOs),
UN agencies, local NGOs, the Red
Cross and Red Crescent Movement, and other entities involved in emergency response.

Geographic Areas of Operations
Nationwide and areas affected by conflict and natural disasters. Offices in Yangon, Sittwe, Myitkyina, and Bhamo.

Do you know that:

OCHA has rapid-response coordination teams on standby, specialized in:
•    Inter-cluster coordination
•    Humanitarian financing
•    Assessments
•    Mapping
•    Media and communications
•    Reporting
•    Information management
•    Civil-military coordination

When disaster strikes, OCHA supports governments and humanitarian actors by providing:
•    Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) grants
•    Fundraising through a Flash Appeal
•    OCHA Emergency Cash Grant
•    Rapid Multi-sectoral and Environmental Impact Assessments
•    Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC)
•    Urban Search and Rescue (USAR)
•    United Nations Disaster Assessment & Coordination Team (UNDAC)
•    Coordination of Foreign Military and Civil Defence Assets