United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is a United Nations (UN) body formed in December 1991 by General Assembly Resolution 46/182.[1] The resolution was designed to strengthen the UN's response to complex emergencies and natural disasters. Earlier UN organizations with similar tasks were the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA), and its predecessor, the Office of the United Nations Disaster Relief Coordinator (UNDRO). In 1998, due to reorganization, DHA merged into OCHA and was designed to be the UN focal point on major disasters. It is a sitting observer of the political debate United Nations Development Group.[2]

After merging with the DHA, its mandate was expanded to encompass the coordination of humanitarian response, policy development and humanitarian advocacy. The agency's activities include organization and monitoring of humanitarian funding, as well as information exchange, coordination and rapid-response teams for emergency relief. Since May 2017, OCHA is led by Mark Lowcock as Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator (USG/ERC), appointed for a five-year term.

From 2013 to 2016, OCHA organized the World Humanitarian Summit that was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 23 and 24, 2016.

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
Emblem of the United Nations
United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs Logo
Formation19 December 1991
TypeSecretariat office
Legal statusActive
HeadquartersNew York, United States
Geneva, Switzerland
Mark Lowcock
UN emblem blue.svg United Nations portal

Staff and country offices

Christine Buchholz (MdB) und Lise Grande (UN OCHA) in Juba (5412354567)
Christine Buchholz (German MdB) and Lise Grande (UN OCHA) in Juba, South Sudan

OCHA is headed by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, since May 2017 by Mark Lowcock. It has 2 headquarters in New York and Geneva, 8 regional offices, 32 field offices, 23 humanitarian adviser teams, and 3 liaison offices.[3]


As of June 2016, OCHA has 2,300 staff spread across the world in over 60 countries.[4]

Country offices

Major OCHA country offices are located in all continents, among others in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Chad, Colombia, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Palestinian territories, Sri Lanka, Sudan (including a sub-office in South Sudan's capital Juba), Syria, and Zimbabwe, while regional offices are located in Panama City, Dakar, Cairo, Johannesburg, and Bangkok.[5] OCHA also has some liaison and support staff in New York and Geneva.


OCHA has built up a range of services in the execution of its mandate. Some of the larger ones are:

  • IRIN, Integrated Regional Information Networks, a humanitarian news and analysis service[6] (1995-2014) Since 1 January 2015, IRIN now operates as an independent news service and is no longer affiliated with OCHA. [7]
  • INSARAG, International Search and Rescue Advisory Group
  • ReliefWeb, a leading source of time-critical humanitarian information on global crises and disasters. ReliefWeb is a 24/7 service that provides the latest reports, maps, infographics, and videos from trusted sources, as well as jobs and training programs for humanitarians.[8] (1996)
  • Central Emergency Response Fund, a humanitarian fund established by the UN General Assembly to 1) promote early action and response to reduce loss of life; 2) enhance response to time-critical requirements; and 3) strengthen core elements of humanitarian response in underfunded crises (2006)
  • Humanitarian Reform seeks to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian response by ensuring greater predictability, accountability and partnership.
  • Who does What Where Database and Contact Management Directory: To ensure that appropriate and timely humanitarian response is delivered during a disaster or emergency, information must be managed efficiently. The key information that are important to assess and ensure that humanitarian needs are met in any emergency/disaster are, to know which organizations (Who) are carrying out what activities (What) in which locations (Where) which is also universally referred to as the 3W (Who does What Where). The integrated Contact Management Directory, complements the 3W database, making it easy for the user to navigate through the application.(2006)[9]
  • Common and Fundamental Operational Datasets (CODs) are critical datasets that are used to support the work of humanitarian actors across multiple sectors. They are considered a de facto standard for the humanitarian community and should represent the best-available datasets for each theme. The Fundamental Operational Datasets (FODs) are datasets that are relevant to a humanitarian operation, but are more specific to a particular sector or otherwise do not fit into one of the seven COD themes.[10]
  • Since 2004, OCHA has partnered with the Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance to facilitate OCHA's Civil Military Coordination (UN-CMCoord) course in the Asia-Pacific Region. The UN-CMCoord Course is designed to address the need for coordination between international civilian humanitarian actors, especially UN humanitarian agencies, and international military forces in an international humanitarian emergency. This established UN training plays a critical role in building capacity to facilitate effective coordination in the field by bringing together approximately 30 practitioners from the spectrum of actors sharing operational space during a humanitarian crisis and training them on UN coordination mechanisms and internationally recognized guidelines for civil military coordination.[11]
  • Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs occupied Palestinian territory (OCHAoPt). OCHA's Country Office in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), established in 2002 to support international efforts to respond to the deteriorating humanitarian situation in the oPt.[12]

Humanitarian innovation in organizations

The OCHA encourages humanitarian innovation within organizations. For organizations, it is a way of identifying and solving problems while changing business models to adapt to new opportunities. In OCHA's occasional policy paper Humanitarian Innovation: The State of the Art, they list the reasons why organizations are moving toward providing their own kind of humanitarian service through innovation:

  • Shifting business models based on public demand: There is a growing amount of humanitarian emergencies and the old model of response does not fit the modern problem.
  • Increased contributions from the private sector: Private organizations are driven by their obligation to Corporate Social Responsibility and now associate their contributions to their brand.
  • Developing partnerships within organizations: Partnerships lead to new ideas and solutions to problems.
  • Trend toward developing innovative technologies: Technology allows people to respond to emergencies quicker.

They also list potential challenges associated with these changes:

  • Humanitarian innovation requires a different market structure: It is assumed that there is no incentive for private organizations to participate in humanitarian innovation.
  • Inequalities in power can stimulate conflict: There is no general principle for ethics in innovation. If humanitarian innovation is carried out incorrectly, there can be consequences to communities, individuals, or the system at large.
  • Monetary and political risk if humanitarian efforts fail: This risk can cause delayed responses to humanitarian issues, so organizations tend to look to the past rather than plan for the future.[13]

International dialing code

The OCHA has been assigned its own international calling code +888. Telephone numbers in the +888 "country code" will be assigned to agencies providing humanitarian relief. The +888 code will be implemented by Voxbone.[14]

See also


  1. ^ United Nations General Assembly Session 46 Resolution 182. Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations A/RES/46/182 19 December 1991. Retrieved 2008-04-09.
  2. ^ UNDG Members. Undg.org. Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
  3. ^ "OCHA Annual Report 2015". ReliefWeb. 21 June 2016. p. 5. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  4. ^ "OCHA Annual Report 2015". ReliefWeb. 21 June 2016. p. 14. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Where We Work - All Countries". OCHA. Archived from the original on 26 April 2015. Retrieved 21 April 2015.
  6. ^ Redesigning ReliefWeb. Reliefweb.int (1 September 2007). Retrieved on 20 November 2011.
  7. ^ [1] IRIN News. Retrieved 10 Jun 2016.
  8. ^ "About Us". ReliefWeb. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2017.
  9. ^ "Who does What Where" Database Archived 22 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Common and Fundamental Operational Datasets
  11. ^ "Center for Excellence". COE. Retrieved 2 November 2009.
  12. ^ "About OCHA oPt" Archived 9 April 2014 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 11 November 2013
  13. ^ "Humanitarian Innovation: The State of the Art". Retrieved 9 November 2014
  14. ^ "Voxbone Press Release". Voxbone. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011. Retrieved 5 July 2011.

External links

2007 Mozambican flood

The 2007 Mozambican flood began in late December 2006 when the Cahora Bassa Dam overflowed from heavy rains on Southern Africa. It worsened on February 22, 2007 when the Category 4 Cyclone Favio made landfall on the central province of Inhambane; experts tracking the cyclone predicted that it would worsen flooding in the Zambezi River valley. The Zambezi River broke its banks, flooding the surrounding areas in Mozambique. The Chire and Rivubue rivers also flooded.80,600 people had been evacuated from their homes in the Tete, Manica, Sofala and Zambezia provinces by February 14. By February 22, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reported that approximately 121,000 people had been displaced by the flooding. Some people refused to leave their homes and livestock. There were 29 confirmed casualties and a further 10 unconfirmed deaths.In early February, the Mozambican authorities did not think the flooding would be as devastating as the 2000 and 2001 floods. Paulo Zucula, head of Mozambique's national relief agency, said "We expect more water than we had in 2001. The situation is deteriorating and it will get worse but this time we are better prepared than in 2001". The World Food Program (WFP) estimated that up to 285,000 people may require food aid. Delivery of food aid by the WFP began on February 15. A single UN helicopter was made available for the delivery of aid to evacuation centres. However, thousands of people had not yet received food or drinking water, and the threat of disease outbreaks had also increased; Paulo Zucula retracted his earlier comments about readiness, saying "We were not prepared... it's another disaster".

2010 Guangxi Wildfire

The 2010 Guangxi Wildfire occurred in western Guangxi, China during that year's spring season.

2016 North Korean floods

The 2016 North Korean floods began in late-August 2016 as a consequence of Typhoon Lionrock, killing at least 525 people, and destroying more than 35,000 homes, leaving over 100,000 people homeless, mainly in the North Hamgyong Province as a result of the Tumen River, near the borders with China and Russia, breaking its banks, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and Red Cross.A UN official in North Korea said the scale of the disaster was "beyond anything experienced by local officials".

According to a statement published on 11 September, 2016, by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), North Korea's official state media, the country's northeast has been affected by the "heaviest downpour" since 1945, with "tens of thousands" of buildings destroyed and people left homeless and "suffering from great hardship".

Cyclone Sagar

Cyclonic Storm Sagar was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in Somalia in recorded history, and the first named cyclone of the 2018 North Indian Ocean cyclone season. Forming on May 16 east of the Guardafui Channel, Sagar intensified a cyclonic storm the next day as it gradually organized. The storm turned to the west-southwest and traversed the entirety of the Gulf of Aden, making landfall over northwestern Somalia farther west than any other storm on record in the North Indian Ocean. Sagar weakened into a remnant low on May 20.

The storm first affected Yemen, brushing the coast with heavy rainfall and gusty winds. One person was killed when her house caught fire. In Somalia, Sagar dropped a years' worth of rainfall, or around 200 mm (7.9 in). The rains caused deadly flash flooding that washed away bridges, homes, and thousands of farm animals. Sagar killed 53 people throughout Somalia – 3 in Puntland, and 50 in Somaliland. In neighboring Djibouti, heavy rainfall killed two people and damaged 1,800 houses, forcing 3,000 people to leave their houses. Damage in the country reached US$30 million. Sagar's rainfall extended into eastern Ethiopia, damaging schools and houses, and causing a landslide that killed 23 people.


Djougoun is a village and rural commune in the Cercle of Kita in the Kayes Region of south-western Mali. The commune contains 5 villages and in the 2009 census had a population of 8,622.

Effects of Hurricane Matthew in Haiti

Hurricane Matthew struck southwestern Haiti near Les Anglais on October 4, 2016, leaving widespread damage in the impoverished nation. Matthew was a late-season Category 5 hurricane on the Saffir–Simpson scale, having formed in the southeastern Caribbean on September 28. The hurricane weakened to Category 4 before making landfall near Les Anglais on October 4, at which time the National Hurricane Center estimated maximum sustained winds of 240 km/h (150 mph). This made it the strongest storm to hit the nation since Hurricane Cleo in 1964, and the third strongest Haitian landfall on record. Hurricane-force winds – 119 km/h (74 mph) or greater – affected about 1.125 million people in the country. The Haitian government assessed the death toll at 546, although other sources reported more than three times that figure.

During Matthew's passage, high winds, heavy rainfall, and deadly tides lashed the Tiburon Peninsula in southwest Haiti. Nationwide, the hurricane nearly or completely destroyed around 200,000 homes, leaving 1.4 million people in need of humanitarian aid. Monetary damage was estimated at US$1.9 billion. Nearly complete crop damage occurred in Grand'Anse and Sud departments, leaving the impoverished population without a source of food. Communication networks and the road system were also compromised. After the hurricane washed away the Petit-Goâve Bridge, southwestern Haiti was temporarily unreachable from the remainder of the country, which slowed the distribution of emergency aid. The ongoing cholera outbreak worsened after the hurricane, killing at least 29 people.

With insufficient resources to respond to the hurricane damage, the Haitian government requested assistance from other countries. The United Nations launched an emergency appeal for nearly US$120 million in aid, and countries throughout the world provided money, supplies, and logistical support. Before and after the hurricane's landfall, UN agencies provided food, materials, and a peacekeeping force to residents, which was supplemented by various non-government organizations.

Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System

The Alert and Coordination System (GDACS) is a joint initiative of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the European Commission that serves to consolidate and improve the dissemination of disaster-related information, in order to improve the coordination of international relief efforts. It was established in 2004 and is a multi-hazard disaster monitor and alert system for earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanoes, and tropical cyclones. It was created to reduce the various monitor websites for the different disaster types. It started as GDAS, but was later coupled with the coordination information system of OCHA (the OCHA Virtual OSOCC). GDACS collects near real-time hazard information and combines this with demographic and socio-economic data to perform a mathematical analysis of the expected impact. This is based on the magnitude of the event and possible risk for the population. The result of this risk analysis is distributed by the GDACS website and alerts are sent via email, fax, and SMS to subscribers in the disaster relief community, and all other persons that are interested in this information.

Head of the OCHA Office, Central African Republic

The Head of the OCHA Office in Central African Republic is the highest post in the tiny African country for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, nevertheless a key post in light of the country's current humanitarian emergency.


HIC may refer to:

Habitat International Coalition

Head injury criterion, a measure of the likelihood of head injury generated by crash tests

Heart Institute of the Caribbean, Jamaica

HiC, a C++ compiler and integrated development environment

HIC1, the protein encoded by the human HIC1 gene

HIC2, the protein encoded by the human HIC2 gene

Hipparcos Input Catalogue, an astronomical catalogue

Humanitarian Information Centers, managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs

Hydrophobic Interaction Chromatography, a chemistry techniqueHic may refer to:

The onomatopoeia for the sound made when hiccuping

Humanitarian Information Centers

A Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) was a common service to the humanitarian community managed by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). HICs were operated in coordination with a number of partners which may include the United Nations Joint Logistics Centre (UNJLC), the Swedish Rescue Services Agency (SRSA), the European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO), and the NGO MapAction.

According to the archived HICs website, the last time a HIC was set up was during the conflict in Myanmar. It remained operational between May and December 2008.


IRIN (formerly Integrated Regional Information Networks) is a news agency focusing on humanitarian stories in regions that are often forgotten, under-reported, misunderstood or ignored.Until 1 January 2015, IRIN was a project of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). IRIN aims to create greater awareness and understanding of regional issues and events, and to contribute to better-informed and more effective humanitarian action, media coverage and advocacy.

On 21 March 2019, IRIN changed its name to The New Humanitarian.

The news service is widely used by the humanitarian aid community, as well as academics and researchers.

Inter-Agency Standing Committee

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is an inter-agency forum of UN and non-UN humanitarian partners founded in 1992, to strengthen humanitarian assistance. The overall objective of the IASC is to improve the delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected populations. The Committee was established following UN General Assembly Resolution 46/182 and resolution 48/57 confirmed that it should be the primary method for inter-agency coordination.Full members of the IASC are:

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

United Nations Development Program (UNDP)

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA)

United Nations Human Settlements Programme (HABITAT)

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)

United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)

World Food Programme (WFP)

World Health Organization (WHO)Standing invitees of the IASC are:

the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC)

the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA)

the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)

the American Council for Voluntary International Action (InterAction)

the International Organization for Migration (IOM)

the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

the Steering Committee for Humanitarian Response (SCHR)

World Bank

International Search and Rescue Advisory Group

The International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) is a network of disaster-prone and disaster-responding countries and organizations dedicated to urban search and rescue (USAR) and operational field coordination. It aims to establish standards and classification for international USAR teams as well as methodology for international response coordination in the aftermath of earthquakes and collapsed structure disasters. The INSARAG Secretariat is located in the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).

Juba Initiative Project

The Juba Initiative Project is an ad hoc funding mechanism funded by several world donors, to support the peace talks between the Government of Uganda and the opposition group Lord's Resistance Army, which resumed in Juba, Southern Sudan, in May 2007.The revived talks, mediated and hosted by the Government of Southern Sudan, are supported by the Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General for LRA-affected areas, Joaquim Chissano. Logistic support is provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, whose Juba office is headed by Eliane Duthoit. OCHA manages the fund on behalf of the Southern Sudan Government.

Nad Ali District

Nad Ali or Nad-e Ali is a district in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Marja is an unincorporated agricultural district in Nad Ali. The area is irrigated by the Helmand and Arghandab Valley Authority. A small town of the same name lies 11km to the west of the Helmand River, at the coordinates shown at the top of the page.

The village of Shin Kalay has made advances in the education of children that was recognized and published by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA).


ReliefWeb is the largest humanitarian information portal in the world. Founded in 1996, the portal now hosts more than 720,000 humanitarian situation reports, press releases, evaluations, guidelines, assessments, maps and infographics. The portal is an independent vehicle of information, designed specifically to assist the international humanitarian community in effective delivery of emergency assistance. It provides information as humanitarian crises unfold, while emphasizing the coverage of "forgotten emergencies" at the same time. Its vision and strategy aim to make ReliefWeb a “one-stop shop for the global humanitarian community."

Souleymane Beye

Souleymane Beye (born 1971) is a Senegalese official with the United Nations.

Beye has spent most of his life in Rome and London.The first part of his career was with the World Food Programme, for which he worked in Guinea and the Sudan.

In 2005, he joined the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), and became head of the OCHA office in Bangui, Central African Republic, until December 2006.

In 2008 he took on the position of Humanitarian Affairs Officer with the United Nations Integrated Office in Burundi.He is the son of Gora Beye, United Nations Retiree (Head, FAO. Research and Technology Development Service, Rome) and author of Impact of Foreign Assistance on Institutional Development of National Agricultural Research Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Telecommunications for Disaster Relief

Telecommunications for Disaster Relief (TDR) is a proposal by the International Telecommunications Union to establish worldwide standards of interoperability and availability of emergency communications. The notion of establishing such standards was spurred in part by the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami which devastated Indonesia.

The ITU assigned country code +888 for TDR, administered by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Numbers are assigned for the duration of a particular relief activity only, and may be reused for a future event.

United Nations Office at Geneva

The United Nations Office at Geneva (UNOG) is the second-largest of the four major office sites of the United Nations (second to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City). It is located in the Palais des Nations building constructed for the League of Nations between 1929 and 1938 at Geneva in Switzerland, and expanded in the early 1950s and late 1960s.

Besides United Nations administration, it also hosts the offices for a number of programmes and funds such as the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (ECE).

The United Nations and its specialized agencies, programmes and funds may have other offices or functions hosted outside the Palais des Nations, normally in office spaces provided by the Swiss Government.

UN specialized agencies and other UN entities with offices in Geneva hold bi-weekly briefings at the Palais des Nations, organized by the United Nations Information Service at Geneva.

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