The Pacific is one of the most disaster-prone regions in the world. Small, vulnerable island states are isolated by vast expanses of ocean. They experience frequent and intense disasters with disproportionately high economic, social and environmental consequences. To support disaster preparedness and response, a regional ‘stand-by’ arrangement was needed to support national disaster management authorities in emergencies.
The Pacific Humanitarian Team (PHT) was established by OCHA in 2008 to ensure that regional responders work together to deliver timely and appropriate humanitarian assistance to disaster-affected people across the Pacific.
The PHT operates under the co-leadership of the United Nations Resident Coordinators in the Pacific, based in Fiji and Samoa, and consists of UN agencies, Red Cross, regional and bilateral organizations, national and international non-governmental organizations, faith-based and community based organizations, and donor partners. There is a commitment from participating organizations to prepare for, and act quickly to provide resources on the ground when requested.
The PHT’s objective is to ensure a coordinated international humanitarian response that is effective, predictable, accountable, and achieved through partnership. A regional cluster approach is used to support national-led disaster management when requested. The PHT clusters were formally recognized in 2012 by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee. If emergencies exceed the regional capacities of the PHT, a request for global cluster support can be made.
Since 2008, the PHT has assisted Pacific Island countries in more than 15 emergencies and has facilitated a number of inter-agency contingency planning exercises with national authorities.
OCHA acts as the Secretariat of the PHT and provides an online platform to share disaster response and preparedness information.