60 local, foreign experts to join UN course on disaster review

Some 60 local and foreign experts on Disaster assessment will attend in Makati City from May 16 to 20 the country's first United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) refresher course.

The Makati City government said the course will be held at the Makati City Hall is in partnership with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Geneva.

“We are proud to host this UNDAC Refresher Course that will enhance the search and rescue and Emergency Response capability of Makati and other localities in the country. It is consistent with our ongoing advocacy for climate and disaster resiliency, which we hope will become a concerted effort nationwide," City mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. said in a news release on the city web portal .

Binay expects to welcome over 60 local and foreign participants and 13 OCHA facilitators and presenters led by Arjun Kartoch, head of the Emergency Services Branch, and Terje Skavdal, secretary of Field Coordination Support Section (FCSS) of OCHA.

He added participants stand to learn much from the expert lecturers who include Kartoch, who heads the UN office assigned to mobilize and coordinate effective humanitarian action during complex emergencies and natural disasters worldwide.

Kartoch had presented a simulated scenario of the tragic aftermath of a magnitude seven or higher-earthquake that will hit Metro Manila during a 2009 debate broadcast globally over BBC. His presentation was based on a 2004 study released by the Earthquake and Megacities Initiative (EMI), which placed death toll at about 35,000 and the injured at 118,200, and up to three million to require evacuation with some 16,000 buildings collapse and 175,000 more damaged. The Refresher Course aims to update UNDAC regional teams on the latest methodologies on team deployment and mobilizations and developments in humanitarian response system.

It also aims to enhance the practical skills in the use of UNDAC mission kit such as software applications, GPS and satellite phones, and team-building among UNDAC members. UNDAC team members who have taken the two-week intensive UNDAC Induction Course are among the participants in the Refresher Course. The UNDAC team members are included in the emergency roster after signing a contract with the agency. They are also expected to render service two to three times a year for emergency missions.

Workshop topics for May 17 include Disaster Management in Makati, UNDAC’s role in Initial and Rapid Assessments: An Introduction to NATP Methodology and Tools, and UNDAC Mission Statement. On May 18, the lectures will focus on UNDAC in Earthquake Response and International USAR Teams, Pre-Mission-Familiarization with INSARAG (International Search and Rescue Advisory Group), UNDAC establishment of the RDC and OSOCC (On-Site Operations Coordination Center).

A simulation exercise with Major Binay acting as incident commander in a disaster exercise will be conducted by OCHA. On May 19, discussions will center on USAR Coordination in an Earthquake, Addressing the Parallel Humanitarian Response, and Addressing the UNOCHA requirements in earthquake responses.

On the last day, the participants will be briefed on New Security Guidelines, Exit and Hand-over Strategy, End of Mission Report, after which they will go on an Ayala Museum Tour. 

OCHA is the part of the UN Secretariat responsible for bringing together humanitarian actors to ensure a coherent response to emergencies. The OCHA also ensures there is a framework within which each actor can contribute to the overall response effort.

The city government of Makati has partnered with foreign governments and agencies and local institutions to expand awareness and knowledge on disaster resiliency not only in Metro Manila but in the country as well.