A girl stands near a tent camp for people displaced by flooding in Sukkur City, Sindh Province (Pakistan). In 2010, monsoon rains affected 20 million people in Pakistan alone. In 2009, 89 per cent of victims of global natural disasters were in Asia.
Children and Women in Crisis
From earthquakes to cyclones to monsoons, 89 per cent of people who suffered from natural disasters in 2009 lived in Asia.1 In Pakistan alone, 20 million people were affected in 2010 by flooding that submerged one fifth of the country’s land mass, prompting UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to state: “Their hardship is on a scale I have never seen before. Words cannot describe what I have seen, what I have felt while being in Pakistan. It requires a response to match.”2 With such a disproportionate distribution of disaster impacting this part of the world, UNICEF’s ability to bolster prevention, readiness and response is crucial to lessening the impact of crises when they occur. Every missed opportunity to alleviate the impact of natural disasters and failure to respond quickly to emergencies results in a ripple of life-altering consequences diminishing survivors’ health, nutritional status, and access to education and adequate water and sanitation.
Meeting Urgent Needs and Building Resilience in 2011
UNICEF’s priority remains strengthening the ability of all 22 country offices in the region to prevent, prepare for, mitigate and respond to crises affecting women and children.
- The APSSC will conduct comprehensive risk assessments to better understand current trends, which are shaped by increased exposure, haphazard development processes and climate change.
- At the onset of emergencies, APSSC cluster specialists will provide technical support and advice to country offices about access to financial and human resources, along with supplies, to ensure a coordinated and results-based response.
- The APSSC will strengthen the capacities of country offices, government counterparts and cluster members through customized capacity-building events on UNICEF preparedness as well as cluster development. Training and implementation of tools enhancing the fulfilment of UNICEF’s revised Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action and cluster leadership accountability will be provided to country offices. Capacity development on disaster risk reduction will also be offered during early recovery, preparedness and regular country programme planning.
Humanitarian Funding at Work: Highlights from 2010
In 2010, UNICEF estimated that US$1.9 million was needed to fund its humanitarian coordination and technical support work in the Asia-Pacific region. As of October 2010, a total of US$987,637 had been received, represent-ing 52 per cent of the goal. Through UNICEF’s Asia and Pacific Shared Services Centre (APSSC), preparedness activities were strengthened in 13 out of 22 country offices during the yearly monsoon and cyclone season. During flooding in Pakistan, this readiness paid off when APSSC provided massive surge capacity for a prolonged period: the regional emergency adviser, the senior emergency nutrition, education and WASH emergency specialists all directly supported the emergency response, helped identify additional staff for the education and nutrition clusters and also conducted the rapid assessment. During the extreme cold weather in Mongolia, known as dzud, the emergency officer from Nepal was sent to support coordination of the response. Towards the end of the year, a disaster risk reduction specialist joined APSSC to strengthen the focus on prevention and mitigation.
Funding Requirements for 2011
UNICEF is requesting US$1.1 million in 2011 to continue its work on improving the delivery, speed and coordination of emergency and risk reduction programmes in a region characterized by increased frequency and intensity of natural and human-made disasters. Without in-country training aimed at prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response, the health and lives of millions of vulnerable women and children will continue to be threatened. It is imperative to strengthen country office capacities to provide basic services quickly in the face of disaster.
1 Vos, Femke, et al., ‘Annual Disaster Statistical Review 2009: The numbers and trends’, Centre for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters, Brussels, 2010, p. 1.
2 Ki-moon, Ban, ‘Secretary-General’s Remarks at Ceremony Marking World Humanitarian Day’, United Nations Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, New York, 19 August 2010, <www.un.org/apps/sg/sgstats.asp?nid=4731>, accessed 5 December 2010.