Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)

OCHA, a department of the UN Secretariat, operates through a network of field offices which support UN Humanitarian Coordinators and country teams. It also maintains regional support offices and Regional Disaster Response Advisors in Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America, the Middle East, and Asia Pacific.

OCHA Around the World - How does OCHA coordinate humanitarian relief? OCHA facilitates the work of operational agencies that deliver humanitarian assistance to populations and communities in need. The UN Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) has overall responsibility for ensuring coherence of relief efforts in the field. OCHA supports the HC in needs assessments, contingency planning and the formulation of humanitarian programmes. OCHA also provides response tools, and advocacy and information services. The head of OCHA, as Emergency Relief Coordinator, chairs the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), which comprises all major humanitarian actors, including the Red Cross Movement and three non-governmental organization (NGO) consortia. By developing common policies, guidelines and standards, the IASC assures a coherent interagency response to complex emergencies and natural and environmental disasters. OCHA also chairs the Executive Committee for Humanitarian Affairs (ECHA), which develops common UN positions on humanitarian issues.

What is OCHA's role in raising funds for emergencies and disasters? OCHA solicits donor support mainly through the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP) and issues emergency appeals on behalf of countries affected by disasters. The CAP, through the consolidated humanitarian action plan (CHAP), is the UN's foremost tool for coordination and strategic planning during complex emergencies. It also provides an opportunity for advocacy. The UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and country team are responsible for preparing, implementing and reviewing the CAP. On average, some 15 appeals are launched annually to meet the requirements of nearly 40 million people. In sudden-onset disasters OCHA may issue flash appeals for a three to six-month period. In addition, OCHA manages the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), established by the United Nations to enable agencies to jump-start relief activities and ensure more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to victims of natural disasters and armed conflicts. The CERF is funded by voluntary contributions from around the globe from Member States of the United Nations, private businesses, foundations and individuals. The CERF is intended to complement not substitute, existing humanitarian funding mechanisms such as the UN Consolidated Appeals.

How does OCHA help affected populations? In today's complex emergencies, civilians are often the direct targets of violence. OCHA works with key stakeholders to develop policies and advocacy strategies designed to ensure the protection of civilians in armed conflict and respect for international humanitarian law. It also seeks to draw attention to "neglected crises" that are not in the media spotlight. Finally, OCHA works with operational agencies to aid an estimated 24 million internally displaced people in the world.

How does OCHA respond to sudden onset crises? OCHA maintains an in-house emergency response capacity, supported by a 24-hour monitoring and alert system, to deploy staff at short notice to disaster areas. In addition, OCHA supports several "surge capacity" mechanisms and networks that enable the humanitarian community, as a whole, to respond quickly to emergencies and disasters. These include: The United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination System (UNDAC) can dispatch teams within 12 to 24 hours of a natural disaster or sudden-onset emergency to gather information, assess needs, and coordinate international assistance. The On-Site Operations Coordination Centre (OSOCC), run by the UNDAC team, assists local authorities with coordinating international response teams during disasters. In addition, an internet-based virtual OSOCC facilitates information exchange between responding governments and organizations throughout the relief operation. The Environment Standby Experts, a joint venture with the UN Environment Programme, that functions in environmental disasters the same way UNDAC does in natural disasters. The Civil-Military Coordination Section (CMCS) ensures military resources, when available and appropriate, are effectively used to respond to humanitarian emergencies. The International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG) is a global platform for developing standards for urban search-and-rescue teams and coordinating international rescue operations. 

What information services does OCHA offer? An important part of OCHA's work is to gather, analyse and disseminate information from the field to key stakeholders. OCHA monitors and issues situation reports on natural disasters on a 24-hour basis. The tools used to collect and share information include: - provides comprehensive information on emergencies on natural disasters to the global humanitarian community on a 24-hour basis. - offers accurate and impartial reporting of humanitarian crises in sub-Saharan Africa and Central Asia. - the gateway to humanitarian information centres and other field-based sources which provide accurate information and data to relief workers and decision-makers. - a corporate platform for advocacy, information sharing, a repository of humanitarian and OCHA-related information and a donor solicitation platform. The site includes an online guide to help businesses identify ways to support UN emergency relief efforts.

Mobilise and coordinate effective and principled humanitarian action in partnership with national and international humanitarian actors in order to: - Alleviate human suffering caused by natural disasters and conflicts - Advocate for the rights of people in need - Promote preparedness and prevention - Facilitate sustainable solutions.

  • Civil Society
  • Humanitarian Assistance
  • Humanitarian Protection
  • Media

Humanitarian Assistance

OCHA is a key player in the field of protection of civilians and a strong advocate for durable solutions for displaced persons. Therefore, OCHA is directly or indirectly involved in multiple networks and fora dealing with (early) recovery during and after conflicts and natural an man-made disasters, transition processes and peace building related activities. OCHA therefore relies on outstanding experience in the field of donor relations and information management, both indispensable tools to ensure that humanitarian funding fills the existing gaps and that well founded operational decisions an be made and planning of activities can be done based on sound information analysis.

    Humanitarian Protection


    • Africa
      • Central Africa
        • Democratic Republic of the Congo
        • Chad
        • Central African Republic
      • Eastern Africa
        • Sudan
        • Uganda
        • Zimbabwe
        • Kenya
        • Eritrea
        • Ethiopia
        • Somalia
        • Burundi
        • Madagascar
      • Northern Africa
      • Southern Africa
        • South Africa
        • Namibia
      • Western Africa
        • Cote d’Ivoire
        • Guinea
        • Guinea-Bissau
        • Senegal
        • Mali
        • Niger
        • Mauritania
    • Americas
      • Caribbean
        • Haiti
      • Central America
        • Panama
      • North America
        • United States of America
      • South America
        • Colombia
    • Europe
      • Western Europe
        • Switzerland
      • Southern Europe
    • Asia
      • Central Asia
      • East Asia
        • Japan
      • South Asia
        • Nepal
        • Afghanistan
        • Sri Lanka
        • Iran (Islamic Republic of)
      • South East Asia
        • Indonesia
        • Timor-Leste
      • Western Asia
        • Turkey
        • Jordan
        • Occupied Palestinian Territory
    • Oceania


    Sectors of activity: 
    Humanitarian Assistance


    Sectors of activity: 
    Humanitarian Assistance
    Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)
    Palais des Nations Geneva
    United Nations
    Palais des Nations Geneva

    OCHA mobilizes and coordinates humanitarian assistance delivered by international and national partners to populations and communities in need.

    Kasidis Rochanakorn
    Director OCHA Geneva
    Stephen Tull
    Chef de Cabinet, Geneva


    Cluster Working Group on Early Recovery


    GCSP Project on the UN Peacebuilding Commission and International Geneva


    Protection Cluster Working Group


    The Joint UNDGO/UNDP-BCPR/OCHA Initiative on Recovery Coordination

    United Nations

    The initiative seeks to ensure continuity and predictability in coordination support throughout the recovery period. While recognising that every country situation is different, and that the determination of coordination support requirements must be driven by the RC/HC and the Country Team, there are a number of key functions of recovery coordination that are required in transition situations. The scope of the Joint Initiative is related to the HQ support to those core functions of the RC/HC, which include: • Support to national planning processes; • Coordination of UN system activities and other key recovery players; • Strategic planning for the UN system response; • Resource mobilisation for recovery activities; • Information management and financial tracking; • Advocacy and public information; • Aid coordination and relations with the World Bank; • Preparation for phase down of the humanitarian coordination

    UNDG - ECHA Working Group on Transition

    United Nations