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close this bookAn Overview of Disaster Management (Department of Humanitarian Affairs/United Nations Disaster Relief Office - United Nations Development Programme , 1992, 136 p.)
close this folderChapter 11. UN response to disasters 1
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentPrincipal elements and actions in response to a sudden disaster
View the documentSitreps - exchanging information with UNDRO
View the documentAlert message and field sitreps
View the documentThe importance of coordination and information

Alert message and field sitreps

To ensure a timely, appropriate, and coordinated international response, it is essential that the resident coordinator report rapidly to UNDRO any disaster occurrence, with an early assessment of damage and needs, however tentative. This must then be followed up by regular and systematic reporting of increasing detail.

Send an alert message to UNDRO as soon as information of a disaster occurrence is received, or an occurrence in a remote area is confirmed. This serves to let UNDRO know that something has happened and that the field office is following up. Do not delay while waiting to get more information.

Send the first field sitrep as quickly as possible, and in any case not more than 24 hours after the disaster occurrence. Send whatever relevant information is available: do not delay because certain information is lacking. Send information as it becomes available, indicating what additional information is anticipated and arrangements made to gather more.

Send field sitreps regularly, at least daily during the initial emergency period (typically 10-20 days) and until a reduced frequency is agreed with UNDRO. Always follow the basic format but, if necessary, adapt the sub-headings of the individual sections depending on the needs of the particular situation.

Send sitreps by fax (or Email) when possible. This takes full advantage of word processing facilities in preparing and updating the reports.

Involve the UN-DMT in the preparation of the sitreps to help ensure comprehensive reporting and a unified UN system presentation to the Government and the international community. The UNDP disaster focal point should normally be responsible for collating information from the various agencies and preparing the first draft. Arrange for copies of the field sitreps to be sent promptly to the headquarters of the UN agencies most directly concerned (normally the core members of the UN-DMT).

For detailed guidelines for the format of the field sitrep see the UNDP/UNDRO Disaster Management Manual. Chapter 4. Appendix 4A.

Main headings for field sitreps

1. General situation
2. National response
3. Country-level international response
4. Requirements for international assistance
5. Channels for delivery of international aid
6. International pledges and contributions
7. Other information

Fig. 11.1 Sitreps and international information flows