The U.N. at field level
At the field level, inter-agency collaboration can have a
positive impact on devising and implementing a disaster preparedness plan. Four
components of such collaboration are essential.
An interagency team
Each agency should designate an individual to become part of an
inter-agency Disaster Management Team [UN DMT]. Because agencies
increasingly have had field expertise in disaster management, the designated
official would hopefully be an individual with such expertise. For example,
where UNHCR is involved in relief management for refugees, a UNHCR
representative should be invited to become a member of the UN DMT.
The UN DMT should be established as a permanent, functioning
inter-agency body at the field level. Each member agency should have defined
sectoral responsibilities. The chair of the DMT should be the Resident
Coordinator. If agreed among the members of the DMT, the DMTs secretariat
should be under the responsibility of UNDPs designated DMT participant,
the Disaster Focal Point.
UN DMT meetings should be held at regularly-scheduled intervals.
The frequency of meetings might be adjusted in times of known potential threats,
such as during rainy seasons.
Purpose of the DMT
The DMT should be a forum in which information is exchanged on a
variety of matters. Long-term risk reduction and preparedness arrangements
within the country should be reviewed. Development projects that would have some
direct or indirect impact upon disaster prevention or preparedness should be
part of this review.
Reviews of preparedness arrangements within the U.N. should
include: mechanisms for the coordination of U.N. emergency assistance; inputs
and operations between the government, bilateral donors and NGOs; location of
personnel in the field when there is an immediate threat; and lists of resources
available for specialized emergency activities.
UN DMT members should discuss the analysis and interpretation of
data derived from early warning systems, both from within the country and from
outside. They should also review information requirements needed for reporting
formats, such as U.N. situation reports, to be disseminated either on
preparedness or on relief activities.
The UN DMT as a focal point
The UN DMT should serve as the focal point for U.N. assistance
in the preparation of national disaster preparedness plans. In collaboration
with government counterparts, the DMT should review and comment upon proposals
at their various stages. Representatives of the DMT should be on hand for expert
advice during the policy formulation process. Where possible, these
representatives should seek resources from individual agencies to bolster
technical assistance and provide additional expertise.
The UN DMT and its region
The DMT should also look at disaster preparedness in a regional
context. The activities of a neighboring nation may directly affect those of
another. Early warnings on locust infestation, for example, is but one practical
issue in which regional cooperation should be incorporated into a disaster
preparedness plan. While governments will know regional and international
organizations relevant to their interests, the DMT might be useful in
demonstrating specific ways that such organizations might be used to enhance
particular disaster preparedness