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close this bookDisaster Preparedness - 2nd Edition (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - Disaster Management Training Programme - United Nations Development Programme , 1994, 66 p.)
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View the documentUnited Nations reorganization and the Disaster Management Training Programme
View the documentIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsOverview
Open this folder and view contentsPART 1 - Planning for disaster preparedness
Open this folder and view contentsPART 2 - International collaboration for preparedness
Open this folder and view contentsPART 3 - Implementing disaster preparedness plans
View the documentAnnex 1: Checklist of basic information required by a UN-DMT1
View the documentAnnex 2: Acronyms
View the documentAnnex 3: Additional reading
View the documentModule evaluation

United Nations reorganization and the Disaster Management Training Programme

Since this module was written, there have been reorganizations within the United Nations system. This section describes these organizational changes and explains the expanded role of the United Nations in Disaster Management.

In December 1991 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted resolution 46/182* establishing the Department of Humanitarian Affairs (DHA) in order to strengthen “the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations” and ensure “better preparation for, as well as rapid and well-coordinated response to complex humanitarian emergencies as well as sudden and natural disasters.” The Department incorporates the former UNDRO as well as former UN emergency units for Africa, Iraq and South-East Asia. The Secretariat for the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) also forms part of the Department.

* Copy is included in The Overview of Disaster Management Module.

With regard to complex emergencies, DHA often operates in the grey zone where security, political and humanitarian concerns converge. Policy planning and policy coordination are performed in New York, where DHA works closely with the deliberative organs of the United Nations and with the political, financial and economic departments of the Secretariat.

The Geneva Office (DHA-Geneva) concentrates its activities on the provision of emergency operational support to governments and UN operational entities. It is also responsible for the coordination of international relief activities related to disaster mitigation. It continues to handle the UN system’s response to all natural disasters.

An Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) chaired by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs has been established pursuant to General Assembly resolution 46/182. It associates non-governmental organizations, UN organizations, as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). The Executive heads of these agencies meet regularly to discuss issues relating to humanitarian emergencies. An inter-agency secretariat for the IASC has also been established within DHA.

Several Special Emergency Programmes (SEP) have been organized within the Department, including the Special Emergency Programme for the Horn of Africa (SEPHA), the Drought Emergency in Southern Africa Programme (DESA), the Special Emergency Programme for the New Independent States (SEP-NIS), as well as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance to Afghanistan (UNOCHA).

DHA promotes and participates in the establishment of rapid emergency response systems which include networks of operators of relief resources, such as the International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG). Special attention is given to activities undertaken to reduce the negative impact of sudden disasters within the context of the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR).

The Disaster Management Training Programme (DMTP), which was launched in the early 1990s, is jointly managed by DHA and UNDP, with support from the Disaster Management Center of the University of Wisconsin, on behalf of an Inter-Agency Task Force. It provides a framework within which countries and institutions (international, regional and national) acquire the means to increase their capacity-building in emergency management in a development context.