UNDAC Dispatch, December 2023: UNDAC Activities 2023

Participants of the UNDAC Induction Course in Saly, Senegal, engaged in the desk top Exercise, simulating an earthquake response in the fictional country of Epeigonia.
© Roberto Colombo

Since our March 2023, UNDAC actively engaged in various new training and briefing sessions aimed at enhancing disaster response and preparedness capabilities globally.

The year commenced with the Awareness Workshop in Panama on March 9-10, where 40 staff from the Americas region were educated on UNDAC’s role and methodologies, emphasizing the importance of integrated response to emergencies. 

In May, UNDAC reinforced its global commitment to emergency preparedness through two key initiatives. The Asia-Pacific Regional Emergency Response Preparedness Workshop, hosted by the OCHA Resident Coordinator Office in Bangkok equipped the office focal points with essential skills for emergency response preparedness and coordination, introducing them to UNDAC, INSARAG, and JEU services. At the Information Sessions at the Annual Regional Consultation and Capacity Training for the Committee of Disaster Management in West Africa, OCHA staff facilitated sessions on UNDAC, and OSOCC concepts, crucial for ECOWAS Member States to effectively manage emergency responses, even in the absence of UNDAC.

Regional engagement was further strengthened through various briefings and courses. The UNDAC online briefing session for Maldives on May 31 offered insights into joining the UNDAC network. In the Caribbean, the OCHA/UNDAC-CDEMA/Regional Response Mechanism Session on June 9 fostered understanding of operational coordination during regional emergencies. Similarly, the ASEAN Emergency Response and Assessment Team (ASEAN-ERAT) Refresher Course in July and the Solomon Islands National Emergency Response Team (NERT) Training on May 1 enhanced regional response capabilities and highlighted the importance of interoperability in disaster response.

In Africa, the facilitation of the Namibia EOC/OSOCC Awareness Workshop in September emphasized the roles of EOCs and OSOCC in disaster contexts, enhancing stakeholder capacity for operational decision-making during emergencies.

The newly designed UNDAC Refresher Course was held in Brazil in November. Amongst the participants were people from Latin America, bringing extensive experience in UNDAC Missions from emergency responses across the continent and beyond. The course was hosted by the Brazilian Cooperation Agency.

UNDAC Refresher course in Brazil, November 2023. Photo credit: Ricardo Padue Funag.

The UNDAC Induction Course was held in November in Saly, Senegal, where 30 participants were trained in UNDAC’s rapid deployment methods and coordination techniques for international humanitarian response and were involved in a simulation exercise. The courses were funded by Belgium and Switzerland, with the participation of UNDAC operational partners from Atlas Logistique and MapAction, and with support from the OCHA Regional Office for West and Central Africa.

Participants of the UNDAC Induction Course in Saly, Senegal, engaged in the desk top Exercise, simulating an earthquake response in the fictional country of Epeigonia. Photo credit: Roberto Colombo, November 2023. 

Strategic collaboration was a key theme, as evidenced by the EU Civil Protection Mechanism Workshop for EUCP and UNDAC Team Leaders in Piedmont, Italy, and Barcelona, Spain. The overall purpose of the workshop was to bring EUCP and UNDAC Team Leaders together to foster effective collaboration in the field, based on the formal agreement and other related documentation between DG ECHO and UN OCHA, and to strengthen the networking between these two teams. The workshop allowed EUCP and UNDAC Team Leaders to exchange and share experiences, to contribute to a greater understanding of the respective mandates and roles aimed at optimising the work together in field missions.   

EUCPM Workshop for EUCP and UNDAC Team Leaders in Barcelona, Spain. Among the participants were Peter Muller, UNDAC Global Lead, and Pietro Carra, UNDAC-INSARAG consultant.

Through CADRI missions in Cameroon, Mongolia and Zambia, and in the SADC and UNDRR Workshop in Mozambique, UNDAC engaged in strengthening disaster risk management and reduction capacities throughout the year.

  • In Cameroon (27 March – 7 April), UNDAC’s mission focused on assessing and enhancing national DRR strategies and stakeholder capacity building.
  • In Mongolia (4-18 September) the mission aimed to assess and improve Mongolia’s climate and disaster risk management, focusing on identifying strengths and gaps in national and local systems, providing recommendations for early warning, preparedness, and risk reduction. 
  • In Zambia (25 September – 6 October), the mission, integral to the country’s National Development Plan, concentrated on improving governance, early warning systems, and disaster risk financing strategies.
  • Additionally, at the workshop in Mozambique (29 – 31 May), UNDAC shared best practices and fostered regional cooperation in Early Warning Systems, emphasizing their role in disaster preparedness and risk reduction.

CADRI Zambia team planning in Lusaka, with UNDAC Members from Estonia, Ghana and Tanzania participating the mission, 2023.

All these initiatives collectively reflect our ongoing efforts to foster a more resilient and prepared global community in the face of disasters.