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Surge Capacity

In OCHA, “surge” means the swift deployment of experienced coordination experts and other specialized humanitarian personnel.

Surge capacity is used when there are unforeseen emergencies and disasters, when a crisis deteriorates, or when a force majeure affects an office.

OCHA mobilizes surge staff from regional offices and from surge mechanisms including the Associates Surge Pool and the Stand-by Partnership Programme. The Associates Surge Pool is managed by the Human Resources Section, while the Stand-by Partnership Programme, whereby external organizations provide humanitarian experts for temporary support to field offices, is managed by OCHA’s Response Support Branch/Emergency Response Section in Geneva.

The Inter-Agency Support Branch (IASB) houses the inter-agency Protection Standby Capacity Project (ProCap) and Gender Standby Capacity Project (GenCap). To help ensure the centrality of protection and gender in humanitarian action, the projects contribute to strengthening leadership, programmes and localization strategies. This is mainly done by providing direct support to field operations through the deployment of Senior Advisers who work closely with Resident Coordinators and Humanitarian Coordinators (RC/HCs), Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs) and other stakeholders, including national partners.

Coordinating surge


The coordination of the provision of internal and external surge is managed across the organization but is always driven by field-based requirements. There is constant surge activity to ensure that capability is where it is needed, but especially so during an OCHA-declared corporate emergency or a System-wide Scale-up Response (the highest-level emergency as defined by the Inter-Agency Standing Committee), supporting the set-up of new country offices where OCHA does not have a presence, and supporting the closure of country offices when OCHA offices are phasing out.

Surge capacity also means being involved in the staff planning for OCHA country offices worldwide, working closely with human resources colleagues to avoid staffing gaps and ensuring operational stability and continuity.

Related Documents
Stand-by Partnership – 2022 Report
Inter-Agency Protection and Gender Standby Capacity Projects – March 2021 Report