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close this bookDisaster Assessment (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - United Nations Development Programme , 1994, 54 p.)
close this folderPART 3 - The role of the UN in relation to assessments
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentUN agency representatives
View the documentKey elements of the resident coordinator's early disaster role
View the documentThe role of the resident coordinator as relief activity develops
View the documentReporting assessment information
View the documentFormulating and screening requests for international assistance

UN agency representatives

When international assistance is likely to be required after a disaster, the UN system must be prepared to provide advice and assistance to the government in assessing damage and needs, defining strategies for response and specifying material requirements. The UN must be able to provide potential donors and the international community as a whole with objective statements on the priority needs for international assistance.

The UN must be able to provide potential donors and the international community as a whole with objective statements on the priority needs for international assistance.

The focus of emergency response coordination within the UN system in a country will generally be the UN Disaster Management Team (DMT). Officials from all the major UN agencies in-country will be designated as members of the operations group for the DMT, under the leadership of the resident coordinator/representative. Each agency will usually take on a specific assessment role (see figs. 4 and 5)




General infrastructure and government administrative services, possibly in conjunction with the World Bank.


Working through and supporting the resident coordinator/representative, helps to consolidate and reconcile information from all UN-DMT members and other bodies and to gather information on sectors not covered by the specialized agencies.


Effects on food and cash crops, fisheries and livestock operations. Harvest prospects. Requirements for rehabilitation, including possibilities for alternative crops.


The needs of refugees. Some consideration of the needs of host populations and returnees in conjunction with other organizations.


Special needs of children and women especially in the health, education and social sectors. Aspects relating to health, nutrition, water supply (particularly rural or other small systems) and sanitation are addressed in conjunction with WHO; selective feeding programs and logistics with WFP.


Food supplies. Requirements for, use and delivery of food aid and arrangements for its delivery and distribution. Overall logistics.


Health sector considerations: medical and preventative health needs; epidemiology; long term effects on health structures; water and sanitation. Water and sanitation (large-scale possibly in conjunction with World Bank, small-scale with UNICEF)

UNDP has a major role in coordinating pre-disaster planning and disaster response. The resident representative is, ex officio, the representative of DHA at the country level. As the UN resident coordinator, he or she serves as the focal point for coordination within the UN system and may also take on a coordination role in relation to the wider international community, including embassies, NGOs and bilateral donors. In some countries, UNDP has established standing emergency units to help cope with long-term chronic emergencies. In many emergencies, DHA may send delegates to assist UNDP in this coordination process.

All members of the United Nations Disaster Management Team, under the leadership of the resident coordinator, must collaborate in:

· Contributing in an appropriate manner to the overall assessment

· Developing agreed, UN-DMT conclusions and recommendations concerning needs and priorities for international assistance

· Assisting the government, as required, in specifying needs and formulating appropriate requests for international assistance

Each agency is responsible for assessments in accordance with its own competence and mandates and is expected to contribute its information and conclusions to the overall UN-DMT effort. The resident coordinator must ensure that all aspects are covered, while respecting the individual agencies' mandates - a procedure that should wherever possible be discussed and planned during the preparedness stage.

Q. What is the role of the UN system in assessments?




· Provide assistance to the government in assessing damage, needs and strategies for response.

· Provide potential donors and the international community with accurate information on priorities for assistance.