Humanitarian Exchange articles tagged:Coordination

As Typhoon Haiyan made landfall on 8 November 2013, aid agencies and donors alike realised that, if ever there were an environment where cash transfers would be appropriate, it was the Philippines. Some 16 million people were affected; 1.1m houses were damaged or destroyed, 4.1m people were displaced and around 6,200 lost their lives. In response, at least 45 international humanitarian agencies implemented cash transfer programmes in one of the most sophisticated humanitarian cash interventions to date. This article reflects on the author’s experience of delivering cash in the Philippines and draws out some key observations, challenges and opportunities for…
Shortly after Typhoon Haiyan hit the Philippines in November 2013, I was employed as an advisor by a long-standing national NGO based in Cebu city, which in turn worked with a number of community-based organisations in Cebu Island, Bohol Island and the wider Tacloban region. The NGO, which went on to receive close to $1 million in funding for relief activities, wanted professional guidance to ensure that it was applying good principles in its work in the food, non-food, shelter and health sectors. This article is based on observations of the experiences of these local organisations as they attempted to…
Sudden-onset emergencies are typically chaotic, making effective communication between communities, humanitarian responders and governments, whether local or international, challenging. Building on experience from the response to Typhoon Bopha in Mindanao in 2012, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) supported the coordination of communication with disaster-affected communities following Typhoon Haiyan with the deployment of an interagency Communications with Communities (CwC) Coordinator and other CwC field staff. CwC cross-sectoral working groups were set up in the typhoon-affected area, convening local and international NGOs, UN agencies, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement, media development actors, local media, mobile operators…
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…
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