Start Network’s DEPP: Key moments

As the Disasters Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) comes to a close, we have summarised key crisis responses that the DEPP has worked on and the how the DEPP projects impacted the communities.


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As the Disasters Emergencies Preparedness Programme (DEPP) comes to a close, we have summarised key crisis responses that the DEPP has worked on and the how the DEPP projects impacted the communities.

Rohingya crisis response

The violence in Myanmar’s Rakhine State has produced over 700,000 Rohingya refugees who have been fleeing to Bangladesh since 25th August 2017, making the Rohingya crisis the fastest growing refugee crisis of recent years.

Developing the skills required to work in a conflict situation is a relatively new experience in Bangladesh, a country which is more commonly affected by natural disasters. One example of the effectiveness of DEPP’s individual capacity building is in this response, where the Bangladeshi government’s Department of Disaster Management recruited graduates of the DEPP’s Talent Development Project. The project builds the capacity of people best placed to respond to humanitarian crises, enabling national level aid organisations to maximise the potential of their staff, and ensuring national staff have the necessary skills and knowledge to improve the impact of crisis response, drawing from the Core Humanitarian Competencies Framework. One government representative remarked that a graduate they recruited:

“gathered in one day what would not have been possible even by 7 to 8 government staff deployed in the camp.”

In total, the Talent Development project produced over 1000 graduates, all of whom are national humanitarian staff working in six countries adversely affected by disasters and emergencies: Bangladesh, DRC, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya and Lebanon. 80% of graduates became more competent as humanitarians, as outlined in its independent evaluation.

Learn more about the DEPP graduates experiences in the Rohingya response by watching the video below:

The DEPP’s Shifting the Power project (StP) has also been active in the Rohingya response, collaborating very closely with various other partners to give a united and rapid response to the crisis. DEPP partner, the Dhaka Ahsanian Mission (DAM) raised £16,000 to support 4000 families by providing health services. DAM's response has been supported by Christian Aid, one of the StP consortium members. This is the first time DAM and Christian Aid are collaborating in a response effort. Sajida Foundation another partner of StP, who had previously little experience working in the humanitarian sector, has raised £7,407 from their internal sources and received funding from Broken Earth Canada to provide health and psycho-social support to 5000 families. Three more DEPP partners, Caritas Bangladesh, CCDB, DSK are also responding to the crisis. Around 85,680 displaced households are being supported with supplementary food, shelter, NFI & hygiene kits, safe water, healthcare and psycho-social care.

Marawi crisis response

Dozens of aid agencies in the country came together to tackle the effects of the crisis in Marawi, where Islamist militia has displaced more than 350,000 people from their homes in the Philippines by February 2018. The extent of the agencies collaboration in Marawi was seen as a breakthrough, as is the fact that United Nations relief efforts engaged directly with local NGOs for the first time.

When the crisis broke out, the Philippines surge roster, under the DEPP’s Transforming Surge Capacity project, had grown to a list of 444 names, of which 240 had their profiles fully uploaded to the web-based platform. There, they were instantly accessible to the 30 organisations involved with the roster, including national Filipino NGOs and two private sector companies. It was used by Action Against Hunger to source specialists to deploy in Marawi, using its rapid HR process and the standardised system of contracts and reimbursement of costs that the roster now offers. There are now 600 individuals on three local surge rosters in Asia. In this vein, the DEPP filled the critical gap in national and regional surge capacity before it was on the global agenda at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016. It also supported partners to leverage further funding and the three collaborative rosters set up have all been taken up by partners to ensure they are budgeted and continued after the official close of the project.

Through the DEPP’s Financial Enablers project, local and national NGOs responded to the crisis independently of international NGOs. One of these organisations was asked to lead the Marawi response, and able to conduct a rapid-assessment directly and quickly. They shared the information with INGOs and relevant actors, coordinated with the UN and other international, national and local actors and facilitated communication throughout their consortium on the response.

DEPP’s Linking Preparedness, Resilience and Response project’s integrated community-led response approach was also tested in the Marawi crisis response. UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) mapping of which actors do what and where, showed the active presence and work of local civil society organisations (CSOs) in the Marawi humanitarian response for the first time, most of whom had been engaged with the DEPP. This is compared to 3 years ago, where both UN OCHA and government representatives said that they do not engage local CSOs because there are just too many and there is no coordination mechanism.

Furthermore, another DEPP project, Protection in Practice, coordinated with other DEPP projects and local partners to monitor concerns around protection and to provide psychosocial support to people affected. The project has strengthened the sector’s approach to protection through activities that aim to obtain respect for the rights of individuals in accordance with international law and has been working in the Philippines to build the capacity of local organisations to provide protection mainstreaming.

Start Fund and DEPP collaboration: The Marawi crisis response was a clear sign of the DEPP’s success in developing local capacity to respond collaboratively to a crisis in the Philippines. At the same time the Start Fund was activated for both emergencies and, according to the UN OCHA, was quicker off the mark in delivering funding for the Marawi response than any other international organisation or government. Start Network members involved in DEPP projects have been able to draw on their growing local expertise to make quick and convincing proposals that triggered emergency Start Fund support.

Watch a video on the DEPP’s response to the Marawi crisis here.

Response in Nairobi, Kenya

With rapid urbanisation occurring globally, Start Network’s DEPP is highlighting the impact of slow onset emergencies in urban areas and the importance of early warning and early action. In Nairobi, Kenya, partnerships between international NGO’s, community volunteers, and local government agencies are vital to supporting communities in becoming resilient and resistant to possible emergencies. This is especially the case with early warning systems, where the need is to respond to a hazard before it escalates into an emergency and where not one agency, organisation or person has the capacity to identify, warn and respond.

The informal settlement of Kibera in Kenya, is known as the largest informal settlement in Africa and one of the largest informal settlements in the world – with a population of more than 250,000 people. With 95 per cent of the households living below the poverty line, and 2,222 people per hectare, life in Kibera is tough, with disease and food insecurity liable to spread quickly among the tightly packed community.

The DEPP project, Urban Early Warning Early Action (UEWEA), discovered that 36% of households had been at least one child experiencing diarrhoea, which meant that the diarrhoea levels in Kibera were at emergency level. Diarrhoea, monitored in children between the ages of six and 59 months, is an important indicator as it is one of the major co-morbidities to malnutrition. Usually, an increase in diarrhoea will be followed by increased cases of acute malnutrition. In response, UEWEA consortium worked with existing government systems, community volunteers, and Sub County Health Management Teams to assist in the response activities. The response was built on existing structures, carried out through the existing health management structure within the county, with responses including awareness creation, mass screening, and deworming tablets by community health volunteers, to name a few.

Watch a video featuring the DEPP’s work through its UEWEA project in Kenya here.

Preparedness in Myanmar

It is expected that communities in the Thanlwin Basin in southeast Myanmar will be faced with an increasing number of extreme events in the near future, yet they have little access to crisis information and there are few local planning mechanisms for preparedness and response.

The Start Network’s DEPP project, Strengthening Emergency Preparedness Systems in Myanmar, strengthened capacity on disaster preparedness of communities at risk of disaster in Southeast Myanmar and improved national and sub-national systems so that they are more responsive to their vulnerabilities. The project coordinated with existing national and subnational mechanisms and systems through monsoon forums organised at these different levels, creating a stronger environment for sustainability. In the Cyclone Mora response, a village leader warned the community, using the communication equipment to share advice on how to stay in safe places vis-à-vis heavy rainfall and strong wind for several days, and secondary hazards like floods and landslides. Although the landslide occurred in Thar Yu Village due to deep depression of the Cyclone Mora, there was no recorded casualty or injury.

DEPP’s work in Myanmar has also helped in strengthening evidence through the Linking Preparedness, Response and Resilience project. The project was designed to increase preparedness and resilience capacity in conflict and response settings including Myanmar, as well as in Bangladesh, Colombia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Indonesia, Kenya, Pakistan and the Philippines. Its Humanitarian Response Strand conducted and delivered academic research which led to the co-development and roll out of a new integrated community led response approach with 9 local partners.

Read a photo story on DEPP’s work in Myanmar here.

Read more about the Disasters Emergencies Preparedness Programme here.