PART I: Organizational structure

Part I: Organizational Structure

Functional Diagram

Functional Diagram Explained

Offices of the Under-Secretary-General/ Emergency Relief Coordinator, Assistant Secretary-General/Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, Director (New York), Director (Geneva) and Director of the Coordination and Response Division


OCHA’s executive management consists of the Offices of the Under-Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Assistant Secretary-General/Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator, as well as the Offices of the Directors of New York, Geneva and the Coordination and Response Division.

The Under-Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator serves as the principal adviser to the Secretary-General on all humanitarian issues. The Under-Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator has three primary tasks: humanitarian policy development and coordination in support of the Secretary-General; advocacy of humanitarian issues and provision of guidance and direction to United Nations Resident Coordinators /Humanitarian Coordinators (RCs/HCs); and coordination of international humanitarian response. The Under- Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator oversees the Executive Office, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) and the Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA). In addition, leadership is provided to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. With an emphasis on key policy and management issues, the Assistant Secretary-General/Deputy Emergency Relief Coordinator supports the work of, and is principal adviser to, the Under-Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator. The Assistant Secretary-General provides direct managerial supervision of OCHA, ensuring effective cooperation between headquarters (New York and Geneva) and field offices.

The Director, New York, has management responsibility for: the Advocacy and Information Management Branch; the Policy Development and Studies Branch; the New York sections of the IASC/ECHA Secretariat; and the Donor and External Relations Section. The Director, New York, also oversees the functioning and daily management of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) Secretariat and the Trust Fund for Human Security, supports field-based ‘pooled funds’, and plays a key role in expanding OCHA’s funding base and improving partnerships with the private sector and new donors. The Director, Geneva,has management responsibility for: the Emergency Preparedness Section; the Displacement and Protection Support Section; the Humanitarian Reform Support Unit; the External Relations and Support Mobilization Branch; the Emergency Services Branch; the Humanitarian Coordination System Strengthening Project; and, as chair of the IASC Working Group, the IASC Secretariat. In addition, the Director, Geneva, acts as the focal point for liaison and networking among OCHA’s Europe-based partners. The Director of the Coordination and Response Division (CRD) oversees all OCHA field and regional offices as well as the support provided to HCs through country desks. The Director of CRD ensures a strategic approach to early warning and contingency planning, early recovery and integrated missions in all relevant field operations, and is responsible for the operational response to all emergencies. In addition, the Director of CRD acts as the Field Security Focal Point for OCHA.

Executive and Administrative Offices

The Executive Office in New York and the Administrative Office in Geneva work closely together and are primarily concerned with: finance and budget; human resources; and staff development and training.

The Executive Office is OCHA’s internal authority on policy issues, interpreting United Nations Staff and Financial Regulations and Rules and providing overall guidance on related administrative instructions and procedures. The Executive Office supports senior management in formulating development initiatives including training and development strategies, succession planning, staff mobility and rotation, and rostering. The Executive Office coordinates departmental programme budgets and presentations to legislative bodies, and manages the Trust Fund for the Strengthening of OCHA and its related Special Account for Programme Support (which funds administrative activities in New York).

Under the overall strategic direction of the head of the Executive Office, the Administrative Office manages the Trust Fund for Disaster Relief (the main source of funding for field activities) and its related Special Account for Programme Support (which funds administrative activities in Geneva). It manages the receipt and expenditure of funds, provides management and donor reporting, guides field staff and desk officers on the availability and use of funds, supports the procurement of goods and services, and undertakes the recruitment and deployment of field staff. It provides dedicated administrative support to field offices through its Field Support Section.

Coordination and Response Division

CRD’s main responsibilities are to provide support to: the Under-Secretary-General/Emergency Relief Coordinator; United Nations RCs/HCs in complex emergency and natural disaster matters; and OCHA’s presence in the field (including managing regional and field offices). The Division is responsible for coordinating all country-level humanitarian strategies, and it is the working-level interface with partner organizations and donors on country-specific issues. CRD is also OCHA’s main contact point with United Nations Agencies and Secretariat Departments on operational issues and with partner agencies on early warning and contingency planning, transitions and recovery.

Regional, Field and Regional Disaster Response Adviser Offices

OCHA has six regional offices (Central and East Africa; Southern Africa; West Africa; the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia; Asia and the Pacific; and Latin America and the Caribbean) which provide support to partners that are not easily served by headquarters and field offices, such as regional networks, RCs and governments. They often provide the first field presence in response to a sudden-onset disaster where there is no OCHA field office. In addition to supporting those countries without a permanent OCHA presence, regional offices also ‘backstop’ OCHA operations, provide surge capacity for disaster response and develop in-country preparedness capacity (including early warning and contingency planning, mainstreaming of IASC policies and sub-regional policy analysis, information management and advocacy).

Field offices provide direct support to United Nations and humanitarian partners by coordinating humanitarian action and analysis, and disseminating information related to humanitarian crises. In 2007, OCHA had 23 field offices.

There is a Regional Disaster Response Adviser (RDRA) in each regional office, as well as in Fiji (covering the Pacific) and Kazakhstan (covering Central Asia). RDRAs provide technical, strategic and training expertise, assistance with contingency planning and preparedness, and advice on monitoring and responding to natural disasters. They also provide governments, United Nations Country Teams and the NGO community with direct support in the response and post-crisis phases.

Advocacy and Information Management Branch

The Advocacy and Information Management Branch supports OCHA’s overall mission to mobilize and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors.

The primary function of the Advocacy and Public Information Section is to assist OCHA’s senior management team, HCs and OCHA staff worldwide in advocating for effective and principled humanitarian action, covering media outreach, crisis communication and advocacy strategies. ReliefWeb and the Field Information Services Unit, which comprise the Information Analysis Section, work together to provide information services to the humanitarian community. Relief- Web’s mandate is to strengthen response capacity through the dissemination of reliable information on natural disasters and complex emergencies. The Field Information Services Unit works to improve information management in OCHA’s field offices and deploys Humanitarian Information Centres or smaller information management teams to emergencies. The Information Technology Section is responsible for the provision of information and communications technology infrastructure, services and support to OCHA.

Policy Development and Studies Branch

The Policy Development and Studies Branch (PDSB) provides leadership on humanitarian policy, evaluation and best practice, and ensures the integration of humanitarian principles, protection concerns, lessons learned and agreed policies into operational planning and relevant mandates.

In late 2007, the reorganization of PDSB saw three sections formally established – the Disaster and Vulnerability Policy Section (DVPS), the Intergovernmental Support Section (IGSS) and the Policy Planning and Analysis Section (PPAS) – as well as the upgrading of the Protection of Civilians Project to a section. The Protection of Civilians Section supports political advocacy, provides advice to the field and develops best practices. The Evaluation and Studies Section is responsible for planning and implementing evaluations both as learning tools to improve OCHA’s response and as accountability tools to measure the performance and effectiveness of humanitarian action. DVPS focuses on the development of guidance and tools to make policy more effective, specifically in relation to disasters associated with natural hazards. IGSS contributes to greater awareness and application of humanitarian policies and principles by promoting systematic and informed policy dialogue among Member States, including through United Nations organs (the Economic and Social Council, the General Assembly and the Security Council) as well as regional and sub-regional organizations. PPAS strengthens the Branch’s capacity to link humanitarian policies and practices more directly with operational decision-making at the country level. PDSB also supports three projects: the Assessment and Classification in Emergencies Project, to assist the inter-agency development of a common humanitarian classification system and definitions; the Guidance Management Project, which oversees the development of normative corporate guidance for greater organizational coherence; and the Gender Advisory Team, which works towards the mainstreaming of gender equality programming into humanitarian action.

External Relations and Support Mobilization Branch

The External Relations and Support Mobilization Branch is responsible for strengthening OCHA’s partnerships with European humanitarian actors.

The Donor and External Relations Section is primarily responsible for securing support and resources for the effective implementation of OCHA’s coordination activities. The Consolidated Appeals Process Section supports field offices and desk officers in appeal development and review. The Geographical Coordination and Monitoring Section works with CRD in monitoring and reporting on global humanitarian trends and priorities. The OCHA Liaison Office in Brussels (established in November 2007) focuses on strengthening partnerships, monitoring humanitarian policy debates and promoting the adoption and use of United Nations principles and operational standards among European Union Member States.

The External Relations and Support Mobilization Branch reports to the Director, Geneva. The Donor and External Relations Section in New York reports to the Director, New York, and is the focal point for fundraising for the CERF, from governments as well as the private sector.

Emergency Services Branch

The Emergency Services Branch ensures OCHA’s quick and effective response to natural disasters and other rapid-onset emergencies, using an integrated package of internationally recognized services and tools.

The Civil–Military Coordination Section is the United Nations system’s focal point for the mobilization of military and civil defence assets for use in humanitarian emergencies. The Environmental Emergencies Section, a partnership between OCHA and the United Nations Environment Programme, is the United Nations’ mechanism for providing international assistance to countries facing environmental emergencies and natural disasters with significant environmental impact. The Field Coordination and Support Section’s role is to strengthen the coordination capacity of OCHA and affected governments during the emergency phase following a disaster, while more generally contributing to OCHA’s mandate to boost response preparedness in developing countries. The Surge Capacity Section is responsible for the timely deployment of humanitarian professionals from the Stand-by Partnerships Programme and OCHA’s Emergency Response Roster during the initial phase of emergencies and disasters in support of RCs/HCs, United Nations or IASC Country Teams and field offices. The Logistics Support Unit is responsible for coordinating the timely mobilization and delivery of emergency relief goods, primarily through the management and dispatch of basic relief items held at the United Nations Humanitarian Response Depot in Italy.

Integrated Regional Information Networks

The Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN) support OCHA’s mandate by providing high quality humanitarian news, analysis and advocacy materials that help the humanitarian community better understand, anticipate and respond to new and evolving crises – with an emphasis on those that are neglected or overlooked. IRIN’s radio programming provides communities with access to neutral and reliable information that aims to counter misinformation or propaganda, enabling them to make more informed decisions about their lives.

CERF Secretariat

The mandate of the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) Secretariat is to manage the Fund under the overall direction of the Emergency Relief Coordinator. United Nations Agencies and, through them, their implementing partners can access the Fund within days of a crisis, when people are at greatest risk. CERF also seeks to equalize funding across crises through its underfunded window.

IASC/ECHA Secretariat

The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) is an inter-agency forum for dialogue and decision-making among key humanitarian partners, involving the United Nations, international organizations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs. Under the chairmanship of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, the primary role of the IASC is to shape humanitarian policy and ensure coordinated and effective response. Also under the chairmanship of the Emergency Relief Coordinator, the primary aim of the Executive Committee on Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA) is to bring the humanitarian components of the United Nations system together with the development, human rights, political, peacekeeping and security arms of the United Nations Secretariat and Agencies to address important humanitarian issues and crises. The joint IASC/ECHA Secretariat facilitates the work of the IASC and ECHA.

Humanitarian Reform Support Unit and Humanitarian Coordination Strengthening Project

The Humanitarian Reform Support Unit (HRSU) assists OCHA and its partners in implementing the principles and operational modalities of humanitarian reform, while the Humanitarian Coordination Strengthening Project (HCSP) strengthens the humanitarian coordination function. HRSU has three main areas of responsibility: facilitating the development of IASC policies, guidelines and the tools necessary to operationalize the cluster approach; communicating key messages and ensuring appropriate training of primary stakeholders; and advising relevant actors on how to use the cluster approach and other reform-related initiatives during contingency planning and in response to emergencies and disasters. The objectives of HCSP are to: promote dialogue and build consensus among humanitarian partners on key issues relating to the humanitarian coordination system; strengthen support to RCs/HCs in the delivery of humanitarian coordination; enhance the leadership and coordination skills of RCs/HCs; and expand the pool of potential HCs.

Displacement and Protection Support Section

The Displacement and Protection Support Section was established in 2007 to build on the work of the former inter-agency Internal Displacement Division in creating a more predictable, systematic and collaborative response to internal displacement.

Emergency Preparedness Section

The Emergency Preparedness Section was established at the beginning of 2007 to carry out disaster preparedness work in a more coherent and systematic manner within OCHA and in partnership with the disaster management community. It works to promote the implementation of Priority 5 (‘strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels’) of the Hyogo Framework for Action.

Pandemic Influenza Contingency

The Pandemic Influenza Contingency project, which was located in OCHA in 2007, assists United Nations and IASC Country Teams and national governments to prepare and plan for pandemics using a coordinated, multi-sector approach – improving readiness in the event of a mega-catastrophe.