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Monitoring the early response to a humanitarian crisis: The use of an Omnibus Survey in the Solomon Islands

Reiko Miskelly, MPP, Will Parks, PhD, Nawshad Ahmed, PhD, Asenaca Vakacegu, MA, Katherine Gilber, MPP, Tim Sutton, MA


On April 2, 2007, an earthquake followed by a tsunami hit islands in Western and Choiseul Provinces of Solomon Islands. More than 36,500 people living in 304 communities were affected. Alongside other United Nations agencies, International and National Non-Government Organizations and Faith- Based Organizations, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has played a significant role in the emergency response. UNICEF mobilized staff and resources guided by the agency’s Core Commitment for Children in Emergencies (CCCs). Dialogue with government counterparts and partners led to an initial 6-month Emergency Management Plan (EMP) enabling coordination of UNICEF’s response to the needs of the affected population. This article describes the use of a rapid monitoring tool—the Omnibus Survey— designed to measure initial EMP targets for key child survival interventions 10 weeks after April 2. The article begins with an overview of UNICEF’s role in declared emergencies. A background to the April 2 disaster and UNICEF’s early work with partners is then provided, followed by an explanation of the Omnibus Survey. Immediate implications of the survey’s findings for UNICEF’s ongoing assistance are discussed together with broader lessons learned when preparing for and managing humanitarian crises in the Pacific.


humanitarian crisis; survey; monitoring; Omnibus Survey; early response; Solomon Islands; tsunami

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