Since the emergence of the global COVID-19 pandemic, more than 28,000 returnees arrived from the Middle East and neighboring countries (Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti and Eritrea) with basic emergency needs spanning from nutrition, protection, food, non-food items as well as water, sanitation and hygiene. With approximately 1,500 return migrants arriving every week, coordination between humanitarian and government agencies is crucial to respond to the growing needs of returning migrants, especially vulnerable individuals such as women, children and the elderly.
The NECC was activated in March 2020 to coordinate the non-health multi-sectoral response to COVID-19 in the country while also playing a central role in supporting quarantine centers (QCs) and points of entry (POEs) in Ethiopia for the reception of migrants. Through such activities, NECC also aims to further mitigate the impacts of the pandemic on the vulnerable population groups across Ethiopia who already have existing needs due to ongoing conflict and natural disasters. Located within the National Disaster Risk Management Commission (NDRMC), NECC is composed of disaster and early warning leads and experts from NDRMC, relevant line ministries and clusters as well as technical experts from different agencies.
Members of the Operation and Planning sections at NECC
Since its activation, iMMAP provides information management and coordination support to NECC as part of the Planning Section Unit through its qualified information management officer (IMO) seconded to OCHA. The coordination support includes daily internal briefings and information dissemination, the development of weekly briefing with partners, supporting the documentation system, and the development of a lessons learned document. These daily activities provide the necessary support to NECC management team and members to enhance decision making and ultimately improve response efforts.
Here at NECC, we coordinate not only the support to the COVID-19 response but also the different hazards in the country. iMMAP/OCHA, through Yewondwossen, provides great support in data management, data analysis, mapping, and discussion points at the strategic meeting. This support is very important for the implementation of NDRMC roles and responsibilities in order to coordinate and lead the multi-sectoral response with government partners, UN agencies and NGOs.
While the IMO had been supporting NDRMC in various coordination efforts prior to the emergence of COVID-19 in Ethiopia, his skills and experience have been instrumental in NECC operations as well.
In the month of June 2020, NECC organized a multi-cluster assessment to identify the needs and gaps at QCs and POEs in the country. This assessment covered 18 QCs and 12 POEs in seven regions aiming to observe the current situation, identify gaps in services provided and recommend solutions to facilitate multi-sectoral preparedness and response.
NECC Points of Entry and Quarantine Centers - Joint Assessment June 2020
The support of iMMAP was critical through the full cycle of the assessment including the development of the checklist and compiling electronic submissions of data. This information collected from the assessment was later analyzed for the preparation of the final report.
These activities have also been important for the overall humanitarian coordination especially for humanitarian clusters and organizations coordinating the non-health COVID-19 response. The assessment report has allowed partners to identify cluster-wide critical needs and gaps at QCs and POEs which in turn has been instrumental in targeting response activities for return migrants.
These sentiments are echoed by the NECC Operation Section Chief, Mr. Nesibu Yasin;
Really, it is a first-time experience for me to be a part of a high-level emergency management team working at a national level which requires coordinating all government organizations, UN agencies and NGOs. In the process of multi-sectoral response coordination, having a well-integrated information management system is crucial, which is what we have through the iMMAP specialist. It is very important for us to have the internal capacity to properly analyze the data to support a coordinated response and improve decision making.
The overall support the IMO provided to NECC has improved the coordination of the response through informed decision making. As a result, NECC has been able to implement effective response measures to support the needs of returning migrants while mitigating the impacts of the pandemic on vulnerable populations.
As a part of the project funded by the USAID, iMMAP continues to provide integral information management and coordination support to OCHA, NECC and governmental agencies responding to the global COVID-19 pandemic and larger humanitarian context across the country.