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REACH holds its annual Global Coordination Meeting in Geneva

From the 17th to the 19th of June, REACH organized its Annual Global Coordination Meeting, gathering over 40 field staff from 15 countries in Genava’s headquarters. 

The first day opened with an introductory presentation of REACH’s background, achievements and perspectives, and then gave field staff the opportunity to provide an overview of REACH past and current work, as it included rapid deployment (on REACH’s latest deployment in Vanuatu, Nepal and Ukraine) and country (Syria, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, South Sudan, Somalia, Niger, and Central African Republic) presentations. An update on REACH’s partnership with UNOSAT was also provided by UNOSAT staff in Geneva.

The second day introduced some internal guidelines to further improve internal coordination and processes between HQ and country teams. The third and last day offered specific training sessions for assessment and GIS staff, who were divided between several groups to work on thematic exercises.

Several conferences were also organized as “side events”: with the Global Shelter Cluster, during which two field staff gave a short presentation about rapid deployments conducted with them in Vanuatu (read the Shelter and Vulnerability Assessment after Cyclone Pam) and Nepal; and with the Global CCCM Cluster, during which two field staff gave a short presentation about REACH’s work with the CCCM in Iraq and South Sudan.

Finally, some panel discussions were held. Attendees included members from the Global Shelter Cluster, WASH Cluster and OCHA who discussed the main challenges and priorities for information management and provided some feedback on REACH role and contribution; while representatives from ACAPS and JIPS expressed their views on the evolution of information management and assessments in informing humanitarian planning.

Such global events are a key opportunity for REACH’s staff and partners to meet, exchange experiences and learn from each other. It is also a necessary process to identify the main challenges and strategic priorities that need to be addressed by REACH over the coming months.

REACH would like to thank colleagues from UNOSAT, the Global CCCM, Shelter and WASH Clusters, OCHA, ACAPS and JIPS for their active participation.

 

Nepal: Rapid assessment evaluates the impact of the two earthquakes in the Langtang Valley

As part of the Shelter Cluster assessment conducted by REACH in Nepal, in partnership with the IFRC, REACH teams have been on the ground over the past weeks to assist humanitarian actors in responding to the post-earthquakes situation. In this framework, REACH teams examined high relief and very difficult to access terrain, such as the Langtang Mountain Valley,  situated in Rasuwa District, north of Kathmandu.  

The Langtang Mountain Valley was severely affected by the two major earthquakes that struck Nepal on April 25th and May 12th, 2015. Despite significant media coverage regarding the damage, loss of life and large scale evacuations of the affected populations in such areas, little comprehensive information existed about current access to the valley nor the priority interventions required to restore access and community life within these areas. However, with the monsoon season imminently approaching, such areas were about to become inaccessible, pressing the need for immediate humanitarian intervention.

REACH thus conducted a rapid assessment to fill in this information gap. Primary data was collected between the 22 and 24 of May through an observational transit walk in the Langtang Valley, and complemented by community group discussions with displaced households from communities throughout the valley, held on the 27 of May. This allowed for the collection of key findings on the situation both before (population, services, livelihoods) and after the earthquakes (displacement, impact on the communities, damage to services and access constraints), which can inform priority humanitarian interventions. It should however be stressed that only a small numbers of individuals are reportedly planning to return to the valley before the start of the monsoon, limiting the need for large-scale humanitarian assistance.

Beyond informing a better understanding of access and needs in the Langtang Valley, this assessment also provides an operational valley guide to be used in other similar earthquakes affected areas (such as the high-mountain valleys in the districts of Gorkha, Dhading, Rasuwa, Sindulpochok and Doloahka).

Read the full report here: Langtang Valley Assessment, May 2015.

All other latest resources can be found on the Nepal page of the REACH Resource Centre. 

Image: Debris from damaged houses in Langtang Village.

REACH conducts a training of trainers to expand Market Monitoring in Syria

On the 26th of May, REACH carried out a training of trainers (ToT) in Antakya, Turkey, focusing on the implementation of a Market Monitoring Tool in Syria. The training was organised jointly with the Cash Base Responses Technical Working Group (CBR – TWG), which was established in March 2014 to analyse the impact of the ongoing conflict on markets in Syria and to guide the implementation of humanitarian cash programs within those markets.  

The ToT focused on the review of the objectives of the project, the questionnaire and guidelines. While contextual and background presentations were given in English, technical presentations were given in Arabic by REACH national staff. In addition, participants were involved in practical exercises with tools and technology, such as the utilisation of smartphones for data collection. Many of the participants were already familiar with these type of data collection tools, which are increasingly used for remote data collection in northern Syria.

The training was facilitated by experienced REACH staffs who have been implementing this tool since January 2015, by conducting monthly monitoring exercises of key markets in Idleb Governorate, northern Syria, in February, March and April 2015. The training also included a presentation on coordinated and joint assessments from OCHA’s Assessement Coordinator.

Thanks to this training, five additional organisations will launch monthly data collection utilising this market monitoring tool. This will allow REACH and the humanitarian community to increase availibility of data and the greographical coverage, moving from 1 governorate (Idleb, currently covered by REACH) to 5 governorates in northern Syria.

This ToT was supported by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and was attended by 20 participants from five international organizations, members of the CBR – TWG.

Read the latest Market Monitoring reports released by REACH:

Northern Syria Market Monitoring Exercise, February 2015

Northern Syria Market Monitoring Exercise, March 2015

Northern Syria Market Monitoring Exercise, April 2015 

Image: Map illustrating the price and availability of a range of basic commodities in sub-districts of Idleb governorate in Northern Syria. 

Broad review of internal displacement patterns in South Sudan

REACH has released a new report examining the profile and displacement patterns of internally displaced persons in sites across South Sudan. The study addresses the need for a broad overview of internal displacement in the country, which has caused over 2 million individuals to become displaced since the start of the the current conflict in December 2013, including over 500,000 refugees, and an estimated 1.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs).

Funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), the study provides an overview of displacement in ten major displacement sites across the six most conflict-affected states in South Sudan. The report examines household level data about the displacement history, socio-economic profile and intentions of IDPs in four informal settlements, and in six Protection of Civilians sites on the bases of United Nations peacekeeping forces.

Amid ongoing discussions about relocations, the study was developed to examine the extent to which displacement patterns and intentions are affected by a range of push and pull factors. In the short term, the analysis presented in this report provides detailed information at community level to inform advocacy around returns and relocations, and in the longer term to inform durable solutions.

While the major displacement sites examined in this report are the primary focus of the humanitarian response, the vast majority of displaced persons are estimated to reside elsewhere, many in “hard-to-reach” areas about which little information is known. Based on community-level data provided through key informant interviews and focus group discussions in eight sites in hard-to-reach areas in Unity, Jonglei and Lakes States, the report also describes the dire humanitarian situation in some of these areas, where further information on humanitarian needs is desperately needed to inform the provision of assistance.

Preliminary findings from these sites have been compiled in a series of factsheetsBentiuBorDelthoma I, Delthoma II, Juba,Malakal, Melut, Mingkaman, Wau and Wau Shilluk.

The full report is available here: South Sudan Displacement Trends Analysis.

Cyclone Pam: Results of shelter and settlements assessment in Vanuatu

Following Cyclone Pam, which caused widespread damage when it struck Vanuatu on March 13th 2015, REACH teams were on the ground to implement a detailed inter-agency shelter and settlements vulnerability assessment in partnership with the Global Shelter Cluster.

The aim of the assessment was threefold: to verify the coverage of emergency shelter and NFI assistance and conduct a gap analysis and to inform the development of a comprehensive shelter and settlements recovery strategy for the Vanuatu. The study also sought to establish a baseline and method for a potential longitudinal study of recovery. Primary data was collected between 15 April and 1 May 2015 across 13 sample sites, including 18 islands,  1 peri-urban and 2 urban locations. These sites were selected on the basis of high levels of damage identified through initial rapid assessments led by the Government of Vanuatu. Key findings from household level data collection are presented in a series of factsheets.

Across the assessed islands, varying levels of sustained damage, access to resources, livelihoods, and assistance were found, depending on the households’ geographic location. Overall, 81% of assessed households reported that their shelter had sustained some level of damage as a result of the cyclone, with 27% continuing to host displaced friends or family at the time of assessment.

Regarding gaps, 46% of households across the affected area reported that they had not received emergency shelter assistance by the time of the assessment, with the largest gap between needs and assistance identified in peri-urban locations. Despite this, many families and already completed considerable reconstruction and repair by the time of assessment,  largely thanks to support from community networks, friends and family.

Based on the analysis presented in this report, key recommendations for recovery phase shelter programming, identified and endorsed by Shelter Cluster partners, should contribute to a more effective humanitarian response in Vanuatu.

Read the full Report: Shelter and Settlements Vulnerability Assessment – Cyclone Pam Response.

Joint project with UNITAR explores crowd-sourcing in emergency response

This week, REACH is at a Science festival in London to present a new project which explores the role of crowd-sourcing in an emergency response. The Geotag-X Project, developed with the United Nations Institute of Training and Research (UNITAR), allows volunteers to answer simple questions about photographs from a humanitarian emergency, and collectively analyse large quantities of data.

Part of Citizen Cyberlab, a research project funded by the European Union, Geotag-X is one of several pilots developed to study creativity and learning in on-line citizen science. The project examines how volunteers can work with the large volumes of data produced in a crisis, and to what extent their ability to identify, categorise and extract relevant data could be a useful tool in humanitarian operations.

REACH and UNITAR worked together to create the flagship project Are Shelters Prepared for Winter? which teaches volunteers to assess whether emergency shelters meet minimum criteria to protect their inhabitants against climatic extremes. Based on a series of recent photographs taken by REACH data collection teams in Iraq and Jordan, the app includes observation questions based on standard indicators developed by REACH and the Global Shelter Cluster.

While the Winter Shelter pilot allows volunteers to learn about needs assessment in a humanitarian response and to better understand conditions for the thousands of people currently living in displacement sites in these areas, other Geotag-X pilots examine a wide range of issues, including drought, climate change and pollution.

Anyone can participate in Geotag-X and our volunteers add real value to the project through testing applications, analysing photographs and providing feedback. Try it out here: Winter Shelter Assessment on Geotag-X

REACH is deployed to Vanuatu to support the Shelter Cluster response in the aftermath of Cyclone Pam

In the framework of REACH partnership with the Global Shelter Cluster (GSC), two members of the REACH team have been deployed to Vanuatu to support the Shelter Cluster response in the aftermath of Severe Tropical Cyclone Pam.

Vanuatu consists of 83 main islands (63 of them are permanently inhabited) that are divided in 6 provinces (Torba, Sanma, Penama, Malampa, Shefa and Tafea) and spread out in a Y-shape form beginning with Hiu Island in the north to Mathew and Hunter islands in the south[1]. As of 2015, its population is estimated to be more than 270,000 inhabitants[2].

Vanuatu was struck by Cyclone Pam, an extremely destructive category 5 cyclone, on the evening of March 13th at around 11p.m. local time. It affected an estimated 166,000 people on 22 islands. According to primary assessments, 110,000 people are currently in need of clean drinking water and 75,000 are in need of emergency shelter. Moreover, up to 96 % of crops destroyed, leaving people with no alternative food stocks[3].

REACH will be facilitating a Shelter Cluster assessment, in coordination with the Government of Vanuatu as well as other humanitarian actors.

[1] Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO), Demographic and Health Survey, 2013

[2] Vanuatu National Statistics Office (VNSO) Website, http://www.vnso.gov.vu/ 

[3] UNOCHA and National Disaster Management Office (NDMO), Flash Appeal Emergency Response Plan for Vanuatu Tropical Cyclone Pam March-June 2015, 2015