From Afghanistan to Argentina, Haiti to Pakistan, UNOPS has particular expertise supporting post-disaster projects in the following areas:
- technical services for setting up and running camps for internally displaced people (IDPs)
- water and sanitation services
- infrastructure damage assessments
- designing and constructing emergency and transitional shelters
- infrastructure reconstruction
- debris management
- emergency procurement procedures
|A UNOPS worker shows shelter beneficiaries in Haiti how to use a UNOPS-constructed rain water catchment system attached to their new latrine, funded by the American Red Cross. Photo: UNOPS|
In order to reduce damage caused by future natural disasters, UNOPS also works with a number of countries to develop their capacity for disaster risk reduction and management. UNOPS is incorporating disaster risk reduction into all aspects of its infrastructure work.
A focus on high-quality results is built into the culture of UNOPS, with the economic, social and environmental aspects of sustainability core to our work.
UNOPS emphasizes the use of labour-intensive projects to help local people back into work, as securing livelihoods goes a long way towards empowering families, promoting stability and boosting economic recovery. We also work closely with national governments to provide project management, infrastructure or procurement support to fill capacity gaps and develop existing capacities, often embedding staff in key ministries.
Whenever possible we promote three cross-cutting concerns: the development of national capacity, gender equality and the empowerment of women, and environmental sustainability.
By keeping these considerations in mind during project planning and implementation, we help partners increase the long-term impact of their projects.
Generating incomes and building capacity
In post-disaster situations, where the ability to generate a family income is often absent, UNOPS uses labour-intensive methods to implement projects to create paid work for local people, boost the economy and increase skills. In 2011, almost 90 percent of UNOPS projects concerning natural disasters included elements that focused on developing national capacity of communities, labourers or institutions.
UNOPS focuses on developing capacity in our core mandated areas of infrastructure and procurement. For example, in Haiti, to help people living in camps return home, UNOPS hired local labour to repair 800 damaged houses, in partnership with the Humanitarian Aid & Civil Protection department of the European Commission (ECHO) and the Government. The work included building the capacity of the local construction industry, for instance by training 151 masons and engineers.
UNOPS has worked closely with the Haitian Ministry of Public Works on this and other projects, such as helping to structure and support the Technical Office for Building Evaluations, with funding from the World Bank and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.
UNOPS provides infrastructure services to improve access to areas affected by disaster, by building roads and clearing away wreckage. For example, in Haiti, on behalf of United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, the International Labour Organization and the Haiti Reconstruction Fund, almost 100,000 cubic metres of rubble were cleared by UNOPS as part of a larger debris management and recycling project.
|Villagers voice their housing needs to ‘social mobilizers’ as part of a shelter project in Pakistan, funded by the Government of the United States and implemented by UNOPS. Photo: UNOPS|
UNOPS is actively involved in helping its partners create more stable and secure living arrangements for families left homeless by natural disasters. We have built and repaired thousands of transitional shelters on behalf of a wide range of partners, including 300 in Pakistan in 2011 on behalf of the United States Government.
UNOPS shelters are renowned for being sturdy, can house a family of five for at least three years, and with the correct training and support can be quickly assembled by disaster-affected communities.
UNOPS constructs or rehabilitates thousands of camp latrines and other sanitation facilities to improve health conditions for those living in relief camps and disaster-affected communities.
For example in Haiti, UNOPS helped partners improve health through improved sanitation, by:
- managing the daily desludging of latrines across 150 camps and cholera facilities (benefiting over 600,000 people)
- constructing the first environmentally-friendly sewage plant in Haiti
Funding came from ECHO, the United Nations Children's Fund and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, among others.
“UNOPS brought strong technical expertise to our project. They provided a quality design for transitional schools constructed to withstand hurricane-force winds as well as the ability to build them quickly in vulnerable, earthquake-displaced communities.”
Head of Mission, UMCOR, Haiti
On behalf of our partners, UNOPS has helped children affected by natural disasters continue to receive education, so that progress towards national development goals can continue.
This work involved constructing or repairing permanent and transitional learning spaces, such as 11 temporary school buildings in earthquake-affected Haitian communities, on behalf of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
Disaster risk reduction
Alongside our post-disaster operations, we help our partner countries prepare for recurring natural hazards, for example providing project management services to support seismic monitoring in Argentina, for the Government.
In 2011, UNOPS managed the direct training of more than 170,000 people to help build the resilience of communities to natural hazards. In Afghanistan, for example, men and women in villages were taught how to limit flooding by building retaining walls in projects that supported gender empowerment and gave villagers a marketable skill, on behalf of the governments of Italy and Japan.
UNOPS also strengthens disaster mitigation, for example by providing administrative support to the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction.