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Information Management

By Floyd Cole,2014-06-13 10:49
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Information Management

    Information Management

    in OCHA Regional Offices

Introduction

    The Field Information Management Strategy endorsed by the SMT in July 2004,

    provides the rationale and blueprint for building OCHA’s capacity to provide high-quality,

    standardized information products and services in the field. A draft Information

    Management (IM) annex to the Terms of Reference for an OCHA Field Office

    developed to facilitate implementation of the strategy, while not officially endorsed, has

    served as a reference point for defining core information management capacity and

    activities in OCHA country offices.

The development in recent years of OCHA Regional Offices (RO) has led to a new

    context for IM activities, one that varies from region to region because of the varied

    environments in which each RO operates. This document outlines the core information

    management activities to be undertaken by each Regional Office as well as the

    minimum human resource capacity needed to carry out those activities.

Levels of Coverage

    A Regional Office will first and foremost support regional and cross-border humanitarian

    coordination efforts but will also provide varied levels of IM support to coordination

    efforts at national level.

    ? For countries where OCHA country offices have IM capacity or where an HIC is

    present, the RO will ensure that IM activities are coordinated at the regional level

    and provide ad hoc support at national level to the extent needed.

    ? For countries with an OCHA presence but no IM capacity, the RO may provide

    more direct support, advising on IM issues and deploying regional staff for

    missions if needed.

    ? For countries with no OCHA presence, the RO will focus on monitoring, early

    warning and data preparedness activities in consultation with the UNRC’s office

    and OCHA HQ units such as Early Warning and Contingency Planning. In the

    event of an emergency, the RO will provide initial IM surge capacity and assist in

    identifying longer term IM capacities.

Where an OCHA office or an HIC is closed down, OCHA- or HIC-generated datasets

    will be handed over to the RO in parallel with national hand-over and the RO will

    maintain appropriate collaboration with national entities picking up IM activities.

Information Management Activities

    While each OCHA Regional Office faces a different operating environment in, for

    example, the number of countries encompassed by the region, the predominance of

    complex emergencies or natural disasters and the level and types of support provided

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to or required by OCHA country offices, the following activities represent the core

    information activities in which each Regional Office is expected to engage in order to

    fulfill OCHA’s mandate in the Field:

Internal Support to Operations of Regional Office

    - streamline the internal management of printed and digital information to ensure

    adherence to standards, accessibility and archiving; - support regional information collection, analysis and dissemination processes; - develop and maintain appropriate regional-level information tools, (including the

    standard OCHA tools) as needed for regional analysis, decision-making and

    resource mobilisation;

Support to Regional Humanitarian Coordination

    - provide standardized regional information products (Who What Where, contact lists,

    website, etc), building upon or complementary to those produced by at country level,

    to support analysis and decision-making;

    - provide information management support to regional-level activities such as

    contingency planning, resource mobilization, early warning and advocacy; - provide information products (i.e.specialized contact lists, maps) to support

    coordination on cross-border issues (i.e. security, migration, etc); - provide, when necessary, country-specific information products for those countries

    where no OCHA office exists or where in-country capacity is insufficient.

Data Preparedness

    - lead implementation of the OCHA Data Preparedness Strategy in the region,

    managing tasks and resources to ensure timely initiation and effective follow-

    through;

    - utilizing OCHA Early Warning and other analytical frameworks, identify priority

    countries (both for natural disasters and complex emergencies) in which to focus IM

    preparedness activities;

    - build and maintain relations with appropriate regional and national partners to

    promote data preparedness;

    - identify and facilitate access to up-to-date essential datasets for priority countries,

    particularly where there is no OCHA presence and where these have been

    identified as 'high risk' by the Early Warning Unit. - work with Field Information Support (FIS) on the integration of regionally-sourced

    data into a relevant global data repository.

    - participate in data preparedness exercises and missions in collaboration with

    country IM staff and FIS.

Resources, Technical Assistance and Training

    - in coordination with FIS, provide technical assistance and training to OCHA staff in

    OCHA country offices or through the office of the RC where there is no OCHA

    presence;

    - With FIS, facilitate regional IM training events where appropriate.

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    - provide regional IM orientation for new OCHA staff (including IM and non-IM) staff

    in country offices;

    - ensure harmonization of country- and regional-level datasets to ensure analytical

    capacity for regional and/or cross-border issues; - act as a repository and institutional memory for country office data; - provide additional technical assistance to OCHA country offices upon request,

    including development of an IM strategy in country offices with no IM capacity; - Provide and/or facilitate access to high-value, specialized equipment and services

    including large-format plotting, lamination, scanning, and publishing, etc.

Surge Capacity

    - provide IM surge capacity for emergency response, including initial staffing for a

    Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) or an OCHA office and support to the

    information management component of an UNDAC mission within the area of

    responsibility;

    - conduct IM capacity and needs assessments to provide guidance on IM support

    needs for emergency operations.

    - Build upon informal partner networks, lending to potential third party surge capacity

    staffing

    - Maintain relationships with academic institutions that can be called upon for

    advanced analytical capacity in response operations. - Maintain IM standby equipment (Light Modules or 'Flyaway' kits) to support rapid IM

    response capacity in an emergency.

Information Management Capacity

    In order to carry out the activities outline above, all Regional Offices should have, at a minimum, one professional staff dedicated to managing information management staff and activities, at the L-4 level. In addition, each office should have technical expertise in the areas of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and database development and

    management provided by international or national staff at the L/3 or NOC level. Staffing levels must be appropriate to the obligations of the office, particularly where staff will be frequently traveling on mission and as surge capacity. Similar resources should be made available for equipment and supplies related to the office’s role in providing surge

    capacity and specialized equipment and services.

Respective Roles of ROs and FIS

    Regional Offices will play a role in supporting country offices, given their proximity, knowledge of the region, regular contact with OCHA staff, and understanding of

    country-specific issues and concerns. Such a support role would be complementary to that of HQs/FIS and avoid duplication or overlap.

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Relationship between OCHA Regional Offices and Country Offices

    The responsibility for ensuring that adequate information management capacity exists to effectively support humanitarian coordination ultimately rests with the OCHA Country office in those countries where OCHA maintains a permanent presence. In those countries where there is minimal OCHA representation or no OCHA presence, the responsibility for information management activities rests with the RC’s office which is

    supported by the relevant Regional Office. This however, cannot replace the requirement for dedicated information management capacity.

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