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DASP: Mission Disaster Preparedness

2009 Activities

Regional Mission Disaster Preparedness Consultations

The DASP conducted multiple regional mission disaster preparedness consultations in the spring of 2009. The purpose of the consultations were to help Mission Disaster Relief Officers (MDRO) and alternates understand their responsibilities, the resources and capabilities of USAID/OFDA, the appropriate procedures for accessing these resources, and their role in the event of a disaster. During the consultations, participants explored disaster vulnerability at their post, identified potential challenges, and discussed possible response strategies and solutions. Some time was also devoted to updating their post’s Mission Disaster Relief Plan (MDRP). The MDRP includes:

  • procedures for responding to slow and rapid onset disasters;
  • a historical assessment of disasters at post;
  • information on the capacity of the host government, non governmental organizations, and other donors; and
  • an emergency contact list
Mission Disaster Relief Officers from West Africa convene in Dakar, Senegal.

In June 2009, DASP and USAID/OFDA’s Regional Advisors for West and North Africa hosted a 4-day regional mission disaster preparedness consultation for 18 MDROs and alternates representing 12 countries. From the beginning of fiscal year 2007 to June 2009, Missions in West and North Africa issued 17 formal disaster declarations for floods (Ghana, Liberia, Burkina Faso, Togo [2], Mali, Niger, Senegal), meningitis (Burkina Faso [2]), caterpillar moths (Liberia), cholera (Guinea Bissau), storms (Liberia), measles (Burkina Faso), and complex emergencies (Liberia and Ivory Coast [2]). It was a great opportunity for the Principal Regional Advisor and Regional Advisors to interact with MDROs from their large geographic region.

USAID/OFDA’s Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) regional team organized a mission disaster preparedness event in May 2009 in Barbados for seven MDROs and alternates from the Caribbean representing six countries. The LAC Regional Advisors spearheaded the pre-hurricane season meeting. DASP reviewed MDRO roles and responsibilities, the disaster declaration process, and procedures for obligating funds. The LAC team also presented its three-prong strategy for the region which included a presentation on disaster risk reduction and a discussion of USAID/OFDA’s approach to shelter and livelihoods.

Disaster Assistance Support Program
Disaster Assistance Support Program
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Mission Disaster Relief Officers from Europe and the Middle East convene in Budapest, the site of USAID/OFDA's newest regional office.  

In April 2009, DASP facilitated a regional consultation in Budapest, Hungary where USAID/OFDA opened a regional office for Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia. In his opening remarks the USAID Mission Director for the Regional Services Center in Budapest, referenced the April 6, 2009, magnitude 6.3 earthquake that struck the central Italian city of L’Aquila. The earthquake killed more than 250 people, injured approximately 1,000 others, and displaced nearly 28,000 individuals. His comments underscored the need to establish a relationship with USAID/OFDA’s Regional Advisors well before a crisis. The consultation was attended by 29 MDROs and alternates from 19 countries.

 Haiti Lessons Learned and Planning for Future Emergencies

In the fall of 2008, Haiti was hit by four successive storms. Tropical Storm Fay and Hurricane Gustav passed through in August and Tropical Storm Hanna and Hurricane Ike in September. As a result of these events, USAID/OFDA deployed a Disaster Assistance Response Team and programmed over $8 million in assistance. In early November, a school building collapsed in Petionville and as a result, USAID/OFDA deployed an urban search and rescue team to assist with life saving efforts.

The US Mission in Haiti conducted a stock-taking exercise following these events to review certain aspects of the Embassy community’s internal response. The exercise revealed that a more defined structure/system was needed to ensure effective coordination within the US Mission and that this system needed to be clearly articulated in post’s MDRP. As a result, ’s Latin America and the Caribbean team and DASP facilitated a Mission Disaster Preparedness workshop in Port-au-Prince on May 28, 2009, for 26 State Department, USAID, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Department of Defense staff.

The workshop included presentations on the Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance’s role as the lead coordinator of USG humanitarian assistance and an overview of the emergency planning process. Two workgroups were formed during the workshop. The first group defined protocols for reporting and discussed coordination mechanisms and the second group reviewed logistics coordination and support mechanisms.

Central Asia

Mission Disaster Relief Officers from Europe and the Middle East convene in Almaty.  

A regional mission disaster preparedness consultation was held in Almaty, Kazakhstan in March 2009, for twelve Mission Disaster Relief Officers and Alternates from five Central Asian countries. The consultation provided a platform for members of USAID/OFDA’s Europe, Middle East, and Central Asia team to discuss its strategy for the region and future staffing plan. Many attendees were grateful for the opportunity to interact with USAID/OFDA staff in the region.

Click here for 2008 activities.

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