OCFA Workshop Underlines Importance of Accurate Assessments of Basic Humanitarian Needs in Emergencies

Published March 4th, 2010 - 10:32 GMT

A three-day training workshop on Humanitarian Needs Assessment organized by the UAE Office for the Coordination of Foreign Aid (OCFA) was concluded earlier today.  Hosted by Abu Dhabi University from 2-4 March, the workshop aimed at familiarizing participants with international humanitarian response tools and services, on-the-ground assessment skills, and writing situation reports and project proposals for humanitarian emergencies based on needs assessments.
Held under the patronage of HH Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi and President of OCFA, the workshop underlines OCFA’s commitment to building the capacities of local humanitarian personnel, in order to ensure that the country’s foreign humanitarian and developmental assistance is as effective as possible.

“The accurate assessment of emergency situations is critical for the successful and timely implementation of a humanitarian intervention. After all, the amount of resources – both human and financial – is based on information received on the ground,” said H.E. Hazza Mohammed Falah Al Qahtani, OCFA Director General.  “We are witnessing an increasing frequency of conflicts and natural disasters in recent years. The ability to quickly and comprehensively assess humanitarian needs in the aftermath of a natural or manmade disaster is crucial to providing the type and scale of aid assistance required on the ground.”

Participants were introduced to the preparation of different kinds of assessment reports including urgent reports (prepared within 24 - 48 hours), detailed reports, and ongoing assessment updates. The workshop also familiarized participants with international early warning systems and their use in assessing environmental, technological, natural and unexpected crises. Web portals such as the Global Disaster Alert and Coordination System were also highlighted given that they provide near real-time alerts on natural disasters around the world as well as tools to facilitate response coordination.

The needs assessment workshop also included presentations by the UAE Search and Rescue Team (Abu Dhabi Police) and the UAE Red Crescent Authority.

“This workshop helps local donor organizations by showcasing the procedures and best practice employed by international aid organizations. Consequently, local donor organizations can develop their operational style in line with these international directives. This workshop also aids the understanding of the mandates of international organizations and eases efforts by local entities to reach out to them and participate in international aid efforts,” said Major Mohamed A. J Al Ansari, UAE Operation Focal Point, UNDAC Team Member, Abu Dhabi Police GHQ.

”One of the objectives of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (SEHA) is to hone our own disaster preparedness abilities to enable us to respond effectively to any crisis, whether manmade such as the Ghantoot pileup in 2008 or a natural disaster that may impact a wider area and larger segment of the population like an earthquake, flood or other calamity,” said Clyde Eder, Chief Operating Officer of SEHA, owner and operator of all the public hospitals and clinics in Abu Dhabi.  “We are happy to participate with OCFA in this training workshop. It allows us to be part of a strategic approach to engage different stakeholders in understanding our objective.” 

“This workshop is a very useful initiative conducted by OCFA and helps reinforce efforts of coordination among various UAE-based donor organizations and the investment of these entities in relief efforts. We are grateful to OCFA for providing a platform for the Red Crescent Authority to explain the nature of the work that we do, and to present the Code of Conduct of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, which is aimed at providing directives to NGOs and donor organizations when responding to disaster and emergency situations,” said Essam Omar Al Sheikh, Senior Relief Administrator, Red Crescent Authority.

The workshop also included a simulation exercise in which participants, divided into three groups, re-enacted the first steps in a disaster response.  Based on a fictitious country that had just been struck by an earthquake, the simulation was held at three different sites including Abu Dhabi University, Abu Dhabi Health Authority (SEHA) and the UAE Search and Rescue Team at the Abu Dhabi Police station.  Group One included participants from Sharjah Charity International; the Department of Finance; the Abdul Jalil Al Fahim & Family Endowment; Khalifa Foundation; Ministry of Interior and OCFA. Group Two consisted of representatives from the Department of Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities; the Red Crescent Authority; Noor Dubai; Abdul Jalil Al Fahim & Family Endowment and OCFA. And, Group Three consisted of representatives from the Ministry of Interior; Zayed Foundation; Office of the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region; SEHA Abu Dhabi Health Services; Dubai Charity Association and OCFA.
OCFA was set up by UAE Cabinet decree no. 36 for the year 2008 and has been operational since early 2009 to help UAE foreign aid donors improve delivery of humanitarian and development programmes worldwide.  With HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi, presiding as the office’s President, OCFA is assessing foreign aid donor needs; providing appropriate training programmes and knowledge transfers; and, building and strengthening ties between the UAE foreign aid sector and the international aid community by providing multiple platforms that bring international and local aid organizations together.

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