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Sphere–Unified Response Strategy (URS) Preparedness Activities

The  Sphere  Group’s  Unified Response Strategy (URS) was launched in 2006.  UNICEF  India, one of the lead members of Sphere India offered to support  the  concept  design  and pilot phase of the initiative, and is currently  funding it. URS has aimed at establishing a system of unified response  in  humanitarian emergencies, including developing mechanisms, capacities  and  protocols  for  information  sharing,  pre-positioning, coordination  and  collaborated response in humanitarian emergencies. An operational  URS  should  help provide rapid and equitable assistance to the   disaster  affected  populations.  Some  of  the  major  activities undertaken in the last few months are reported below.

  •  Information sharing channel for the disaster response and management community especially the INGOS and NGO’s has been established through a Goggle mailing group. Currently there are 275 members across the country and about 67 messages have been posted. http://groups.google.com/group/Sphere-URS?hl=en

  •  Regular Sphere-URS/Inter-Agency Group (IAG) meetings have taken place in the three pilot states of Assam, Bihar and Orissa during the months of January, March, April and May 2007. State level groups in Bihar  and Assam have taken ownership of coordinated work and inter-agency activities. The URS/IAG platform in the pilot states has initiated the formation of State Level NGO Task Force in the states of Assam and Bihar.

  •  The Sphere-URS website has been revamped. The new interactive website will have common assessment formats, checklist on various sectors, NGO mapping documents and other useful tool during emergencies posted for use by the INGO/NGO community: http://www.sphereindia-urs.org/.

  •  Common assessment formats have been developed for wide use among the various IAG’s  and NGO community. Assessment formats/checklist from 21 Sphere member organizations were collected, thoroughly studied and a common assessment format was developed. The common assessment format has two variants one, Rapid and another Detailed. Rapid Assessment format is brief ( two pages long)  and  has to  be filled within  36 to 48 hrs of the  incident,  while  the Detailed format   has  to be filled in within  72 to 96 hrs and is about  8 pages long. A Hindi and Assamese version of the common rapid assessment format is also available for members in Bihar and Assam respectively.

  •  A district level GIS mapping of Puri district has also been completed with special focus to two high risk blocks namely, Kanas and Satyabadi. The GIS output is user friendly and data can be easily updated by non-IT/technical individuals.

  •   Capacity Building: First batch of Sphere trainings has been conducted in Assam for local NGO’s. Second round of Sphere trainings will be conducted in the month of August in Assam and Bihar.  The principal objective of these training is to create state-level Sphere peer-groups, which could carry forward the initiative to the other parts and levels.

  •   IEC materials: Posters on Sphere Standards and URS (principles and good practices) are being printed and would be widely distributed in the month of July 2007.

  •   Linkages with the Government: Relief Commissioner’s of the state of Assam and Orissa have been apprised about coordinated work approach and Inter-agency Group (IAG) activities. Linkages with NGO representatives in the State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA) of Assam have also been initiated. 

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