The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is the department of the United Nations Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. Its mission is to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian response and preparedness to alleviate human suffering in emergencies, and to advocate the rights of people in need. OCHA is also responsible for information management and provides regular situation reports (providing data on needs, who is doing what, key challenges, funding status, etc), maps and other products.
At the country level, emergency response is led by one senior UN representative, either the Resident or Humanitarian Coordinator, who leads the response and convenes the humanitarian country team, comprised of the heads of the UN Agencies involved in the response and NGO representatives. OCHA serves as adviser to the Humanitarian Coordinator.
The cluster system helps focus the coordination around key sectors (e.g. food, water & sanitation, shelter). OCHA is responsible for bringing together the sectoral leads to assess needs, establish the emergency response plan, mobilize funds, advocate on humanitarian priorities, and monitor progress.
Humanitarian organizations follow the established humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality, and independence. These core principles are critical to maintaining access to affected populations during crises, especially as much of humanitarian action occurs in complex political environments. Sometimes humanitarian actors may be reticent in engaging with the business community if they perceive that the company does not adhere to these principles.
OCHA also manages the Financial Tracking Service (FTS). FTS is a centralized source of curated, continuously updated, fully downloadable data and information on humanitarian funding flows. Government donors, UN-administered funds, UN agencies, NGOs and other humanitarian actors and partners exchange data and information with FTS in order to provide:
- visibility of their financial contributions to humanitarian activities
- a timely and continuously updated picture of funding flows between donors (government and private) and operational humanitarian actors (UN agencies, the Red Cross Movement, NGOs and CSOs)
- timely monitoring of funding progress against humanitarian response plan and appeal requirements.
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