Asia-Pacific is the world’s most disaster-prone region, so disaster management is a regional priority. Over the past decade, most countries in the region have established national disaster management authorities and systems that are increasingly capable of managing an effective disaster response. In addition, the growing prominence of bilateral response arrangements, grounded in South-South Cooperation, and the increased capacity of regional organizations are contributing to a more diverse response system. As a result, disaster management and response in the region is based on strong national leadership, particularly in the context of natural disasters, with regional and international actors complementing Government efforts when required.
Nationally-led disaster management includes not only the Government, but also the ‘whole of society’, including the military, the private sector, civil society, and most crucially, the affected communities themselves. In Asia-Pacific, local communities are always the first and last responders, so disaster management is strengthened when communities are actively engaged, particularly through community-based approaches to disaster risk reduction that build on local capacities. If humanitarian actions are to be genuinely relevant, timely, effective and efficient, disaster-affected communities must be placed at the centre of all humanitarian action, and they must be actively involved and engaged before, during and after a disaster.
Recent experience in the Asia-Pacific shows that international assistance is most critical during the first weeks following a major natural disaster, and that effectively scaling up response in rapidly-escalating complex emergencies requires robust and sustained advocacy and coordination. The response should focus on the immediate needs of crisis-affected people, work through and in complement to national systems, and draw primarily on resources available in the affected country and region. When necessary, international resources and expertise should be mobilized to fill identified gaps (Figure 1).
Disaster Response in Asia and the Pacific: A Guide to International Tools and Services (hereafter referred to as “the Guide”) was updated in 2017. The original 2013 edition was produced following the 2011 Regional Humanitarian Partnership Forum (RHPF) for the Asia-Pacific Region held in Shanghai, China. At the workshop, United Nations (UN) Member States and other humanitarian stakeholders requested a handbook to guide disaster managers in understanding the interaction between national, regional and international humanitarian response mechanisms. The original Guide was developed in consultation with Government officials across Asia and the Pacific and representatives of intergovernmental organizations, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (RCRC Movement), national and international non-governmental organizations (NGOs/INGOs), donors and other key agencies worldwide. These partners were also consulted for the revised Guide.
The Guide helps disaster managers in national Governments gain basic knowledge of how to mobilize and use international and regional tools and services for disaster response and preparedness efforts. However, the Guide is not prescriptive. Rather, it supports both disaster response and disaster response preparedness capabilities at the national level in Asia and the Pacific. It is a reference on the available tools and services that can facilitate the rapid mobilization of humanitarian assistance and response in emergencies.
The Guide is primarily intended for national disaster management organizations (NDMOs) and line ministries involved in disaster response and disaster response preparedness. It is also a reference document for representatives of intergovernmental organizations, civil society actors and disaster-affected people.
The Guide concentrates on key tools and services that can help disaster managers during the response and response preparedness phases of the disaster programme cycle. The Guide also includes some entries relevant to conflict situations. However, it does not include tools and services that support broader disaster risk reduction (DRR) efforts, nor does it cover longerterm disaster recovery instruments or tools and services still in development (Figure 2).
Following this introduction, the Guide has five substantive chapters: [II] Guidance Frameworks, [III] Humanitarian Actors, [IV] International Coordination Mechanisms, [V] Tools and Services, and [VI] Early Warning. The Guide explains how to access more information and provides contact information for requesting the deployment of the services and tool discussed.
DISASTER RESPONSE: assistance and interventions provided during or immediately after a disaster to preserve life and meet the basic subsistence needs of those affected.
EMERGENCY RESPONSE PREPAREDNESS: pre-disaster activities undertaken to minimize the loss of life, injury and property damage in a disaster, and to ensure that rescue, relief, rehabilitation and other services can be provided following a disaster. Preparedness for the first and immediate response is called “emergency preparedness”