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OCHA Annual Report 2008

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The past year saw significant new humanitarian challenges against a backdrop of dramatic global events. As the food crisis, the effects of climate change, and the global financial crisis placed new strains on the international humanitarian system, OCHA was called upon to use its various tools to support response to some 55 emergencies, including natural disasters, armed conflict and epidemics. The exceptional damage caused by Cyclone Nargis, the repeated hurricanes in Haiti and Cuba, the cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe, and drought and counter-insurgency operations in Ethiopia were among the major crises calling for coordinated response.

With these challenges came new opportunities, and insights into how OCHA and humanitarian work need to be shaped in the future. The global food crisis and our engagement on climate change showed how acute vulnerability can be generated outside traditional crisis triggers. The crisis in Myanmar demonstrated the critical importance of engagement with regional bodies. As in the past, these new challenges prompt us as an organization, and the humanitarian community as a whole, to adapt and to remain flexible.

The year was also one of significant improvements within the international humanitarian system. Humanitarian reform is now the standard way we work, though there is room for continued strengthening. The cluster approach has been implemented in nearly every country with a Humanitarian Coordinator, and was rolled out in five new sudden onset emergencies that arose in 2008. Humanitarian coordination leadership was strengthened through increased accountability and clarity of roles. Partnerships between the UN and non-UN parts of the humanitarian system were reinforced further. And pooled funding at global and national level made an ever more significant contribution to humanitarian relief and coordination.
UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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