Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response
UNICEF Belize is committed to the implementation and monitoring of the Core Commitments for Children (CCCs) in emergencies that focus on the preparation and response of communities—specifically the pertinent role of adolescents in these situations. UNICEF works with key partners such as the NEMO to help ensure the success and upkeep of the interventions and help phase interventions according to the affected areas. Based on best practices, UNICEF has fine-tuned its basic commitments for children in emergency situations based on a human rights-based approach during preparations. UNICEF’s technical and financial support in relation to emergency situations has augmented with an increase in disaster situations.
The government of Belize has measures in place to protect children and provides the resources for emergency situations. Over the last few years, GOB has made an increased investment to disaster management and response facilitating a process of change and rapid recovery. UNICEF supports them in their efforts. In doing so, UNICEF Belize has created a hurricane plan and emergency plan based on prevention and is updated annually. All operations are based on the situational analysis of Belize. For example, UNICEF has strengthened its early warning system and collaborative arrangements with the UN and national partners in order to ensure the level of readiness required to respond to multiple threats.
Our programmatic work in emergency focuses on nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene, protection, education and HIV. Our commitments at the operational level consist of security, fundraising, communication in emergency, human resources to make assessments and help in distributions, information technology, logistical help and finances. UNICEF emergency assistance is planned based on collaboration with the partners and the Government of Belize. Furthermore, UNICEF Belize provides assistance in emergency responses by coordinating with the United Nations Emergency Technical Team. Interagency planning for disaster preparedness and mitigation takes place every two months and weekly during the hurricane season to ensure that UNICEF is prepared to provide technical assistance and coordinate with NEMO effectively.
Despite these efforts, the speed of response continues to be particularly demanding and more concerted actions need to take place. The government and UNICEF have strengthened distribution efforts of much needed materials in times of need, conducted assessments of the situation of children and women, and distributed essential materials such as Oral Rehydration Salts packs, school in a box kits and informative materials to ensure children’s rights to education and good health are maintained. UNICEF also provides funding to protect on-going investments in education and child friendly schools as well as to support the distribution of micronutrients in poor communities.