Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Coordination

This article questions whether the humanitarian cluster system’s mechanisms for strategic thinking really allow plans to be adapted as situations change, with a particular focus on the Shelter Cluster during the Haiti earthquake response Using strategy documents, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA)’s Financial Tracking Service and minutes of the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) of the Haiti Shelter Cluster (the coordination structure for shelter agencies), we ask whether different decisions could have been made in early 2010. The article seeks to determine whether more questions could have been asked about the assumptions underpinning the response; learn from…
Inter-Cluster Coordination (ICC) requires clusters to work together to identify and reduce gaps and duplication, establish joint priorities and address cross-cutting issues in order to improve humanitarian response.[1] Information sharing is a first step, but ICC groups can also establish joint assessments and indicators, align training opportunities, set priorities, make recommendations to Humanitarian Country Teams (HCTs) and develop proposals for the Central Emergency Response Fund and other funding pools and engage in other activities. In a recent evaluation of global cluster performance, ICC was judged to be 'ineffective in most cases and there is little integration of cross-cutting issues'.[2] Coordination…
Syria is a highly urbanised country, and the conflict there has had a particularly devastating impact on its cities and towns. Homs, Aleppo, Damascus and many smaller towns have served as battlegrounds for government and rebel offensives, with tragic humanitarian consequences for their inhabitants. The battles for these cities have caused the breakdown of entire urban systems, destroying homes and public services and distorting urban markets and economies. Urban demographics have changed significantly as millions of Syrians have abandoned their homes. People displaced from one city to another or from rural areas to urban environments are forced into close proximity;…
A political or military solution to stop the carnage in Syria seems as remote as ever. The war seems only to bring even worse depths of human suffering and diplomatic impotence. Syrian civilians are in a state, not just of terror, but of horror – hostages in a geopolitical, ideological and sectarian catastrophe. On the face of it, getting humanitarian assistance to the millions affected should be easier to deal with than the political and military mess. In the space of two years, a major relief operation within Syria has indeed come to life despite the extreme circumstances. But these…
The South Sudan NGO Forum is widely recognised as playing a key role in humanitarian coordination in South Sudan. This article identifies key precedents, principles and modalities which may be useful in strengthening NGO coordination in other situations, while recognising that the unique context in South Sudan has shaped the evolution of the Forum. The South Sudan NGO Forum and Secretariat Although the history of the NGO Forum can be traced back to the early 1990s, when it was established to improve NGO representation within Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS), the mechanism in place today has changed considerably with the addition…
In natural disasters and complex emergencies, access to high-quality, timely information is a critical precondition for effective aid delivery. Unfortunately, recent crises have exposed the shortcomings of the humanitarian community in rapidly gathering and effectively using information on the key needs and priorities of affected populations. Such shortcomings are largely due to the lack of dedicated interagency resources for the collection, analysis and dissemination of key information. As a result, post-emergency contexts are often characterised by significant gaps. The first gap concerns the emergency phase of a crisis, when the supply of data is insufficient to meet demand. As data…
In November 2011, fighting in Blue Nile State in Sudan led to the flight of some 25,000 refugees to Maban County, in Upper Nile State in South Sudan, where they were settled in two refugee camps, first at Doro and then, from December, at Jamam. More continued to arrive over the subsequent months. Six months later, in May 2012, a second wave of 35,000 refugees arrived, in very bad condition with some dying of dehydration from their journey. After an initial period in transit camps en route, most of this second wave was moved to Jamam camp; new camps were…
Numerous evaluations have highlighted the poor engagement of national and local NGOs within clusters, listing practical concerns such as language, staffing and logistics barriers, but often without a thorough analysis of why national NGOs do not engage, or what their motivations are when they do. Two questions arise. If we focus on the motivating forces behind engagement, can we build better cluster relations with national NGO partners? And by creating a prescriptive format of participation, such as the cluster approach, have we actually created a barrier to true partnership? My research on cluster partner national NGOs from Somalia, Zimbabwe, Myanmar…
Action Against Hunger (ACF-USA) has successfully worked through partnerships in responding to recent large-scale emergencies in Kenya and Pakistan. In addition to improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the humanitarian response, working in partnership facilitated a harmonised approach, with agreed programmatic responses, common needs assessments and tailored response analyses. Evaluations have shown that this approach improved coordination and information-sharing among agencies, catalysed debates around different approaches and how to harmonise them and enabled the exchange of technical expertise and lessons learned, not only among partnership members but across the wider humanitarian community. The partnership approach also enabled individual partners to…
Dialogue between military and civilian actors is problematic in Somalia, and no more so than in the southern port city of Kismayo, what was the Islamist group al-Shabaab’s last remaining garrison. Considered the most complex urban space in the country, Kismayo is an important trade centre less than 200km from the Kenyan border, and the ultimate prize for the warring sub-clans in the region. After the fall of Siad Barre in 1991, the city was dominated by a succession of some of Somalia’s most feared warlords, and most recently by al-Shabaab. The liberation of Kismayo, the fulcrum of al-Shabaab’s economic…
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