Part I
Financial Information and Analysis

Humanitarian Reform

In late 2005, the members of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) embarked on a process of humanitarian reform. This initiative stemmed from a review of the humanitarian response system which was commissioned by the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) in mid 2005 to examine perceptions that humanitarian response does not always meet the basic requirements of affected populations in a timely fashion and can vary considerably from crisis to crisis.

The ongoing humanitarian reform agenda aims to strengthen humanitarian response by introducing new measures to enhance response capacity, accountability, predictability and partnership. It represents an ambitious effort by the international humanitarian community to reach more beneficiaries, with more comprehensive, needs-based relief and protection, in a more effective and timely manner.

The success of humanitarian reform will be founded on more effective partnerships between United Nations and non-United Nations humanitarian actors, and it has three IASC-endorsed pillars:

In mid 2006, OCHA established the Humanitarian Reform Support Unit (HRSU) to provide support to HCs, field teams and agencies in driving forward this agenda. The Unit’s priorities are to: ensure clarity on agreed IASC and United Nations policies related to the reform, and effectively communicate this to all stakeholders; ensure the consistency of approach required for successful implementation; and support implementation, monitoring and evaluation of the reform, at both headquarters and field levels.

Challenges, Accomplishments and Recommendations

The current humanitarian context is complex and constantly evolving. Many organizations are now active in disaster relief and humanitarian response around the world, and all of them have a stake in the success of reform.

Over one year into the reform implementation process, some common themes have emerged from the efforts of the humanitarian community in implementing the reform agenda. A critical lesson from 2006 was that the humanitarian reform process needs to be clearly communicated to all stakeholders if it is to take hold and be successful. In particular, the objectives and added value of the cluster approach and the wider humanitarian reform process must be better promoted and explained to Member States at United Nations headquarters, as well as to national authorities, national NGOs and other stakeholders on the ground.

It has been a particular challenge for humanitarian actors to adopt a new working culture with enhanced coherence between different agencies involved in similar sectors of response. There was significant progress as most clusters experienced increased levels of partner participation, indicating that formerly hesitant non-governmental partners began to appreciate the added value of joining the working groups. In 2006 they focused more on products and results and less on composition and work planning. Some clusters forged effective partnerships with global-level governmental and private sector actors, for example the United States Centre for Disease Control and Ericsson Response. The effort to change mindsets and working methods may not require specific funds but it does require total commitment from those working in humanitarian operations, especially in terms of streamlining collaboration on planning and implementation, and ensuring coherence of their efforts towards commonly agreed goals.

Partnerships. Improved communication among all IASC partners, supported by OCHA, has meant that working relationships and a common understanding of humanitarian reform goals improved during 2006, with much greater clarification of capacity gaps and objectives. While the Global Humanitarian Platform (GHP) initiative, established in 2006, is not a part of the humanitarian reform agenda, it is worth noting its progress in strengthening United Nations/non-United Nations partnerships. The GHP is a three-year forum for dialogue among the heads of key United Nations humanitarian agencies, NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and other international organizations. The GHP does not seek to convince humanitarian agencies to pursue a single mode of action or work, but rather to adopt shared responsibilities while respecting diversity.

Efforts at the global level were complemented by an agreement to expand the UNCTs in humanitarian emergencies to include other key humanitarian actors. The IASC agreed that broad-based humanitarian CTs should be established in all countries with HCs. This was an important step: as seen recently in Uganda, Pakistan and Lebanon, the replication of the IASC at the field level can lead to a better coordinated and more coherent and strategic humanitarian response.

Humanitarian financing. The new CERF committed over US$ 250 million in 2006 to approximately 340 projects in 35 countries, aimed at addressing funding gaps for both rapid response and under-funded emergencies. Two thirds of the funds in 2006 were used for rapid response emergencies in countries including Sudan and Lebanon, while the remaining funds were used to cover priority needs in a number of under-funded emergencies in countries including the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Chad. The main challenge for the most efficient use of the fund was to develop clear criteria and ensure appropriate application and reporting procedures. Another key challenge was to support under-funded sectors in the better-funded appeals, especially in cases where a lack of funding in essential sectors prevented comprehensive coverage of life-saving activities.

The humanitarian community must move closer to incorporating predictability of humanitarian financing using all mechanisms available – not only the CERF. Initiatives to strengthen humanitarian financing include Emergency Response Funds (ERFs), pooled or common funding and the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) initiative, in addition to flash appeals and the Consolidated Appeals Process (CAP).

Humanitarian coordinator system. The IASC recognized that another major challenge in ensuring effective implementation of the overall reform agenda was the state of the existing HC system. There was an agreed need to institutionalize improved systems and standards for the identification, appointment and training of those individuals most able to deliver effective and accountable leadership, and to interface with national authorities in humanitarian crises. A new roster of 22 potential HCs was established, for the first time including members of both United Nations and non-United Nations humanitarian organizations. The development of a training programme for HCs was initiated in the latter part of 2006 and a pilot training took place in November. In the coming year, outreach and activities to sensitize national authorities on the role of HCs should also be conducted as RCs/HCs serve a crucial role in determining how CERF funds are put to best use and ensuring that the CERF is a mechanism to further coordinate and plan an increasingly comprehensive humanitarian response. In addition, there will be more focus on how funding mechanisms (the CERF and ERFs among others) can support the HC in ensuring humanitarian needs are met.

There is also need to ensure that Resident Coordinators (RCs) are provided with training and support on humanitarian issues (including reform) so that they can successfully accomplish an increasingly complex set of humanitarian tasks, as well as ensure effective leadership on recovery and transitional planning. This is particularly relevant for RCs operating in disaster-prone countries, and countries threatened by internal or external conflict. RCs in these situations should be encouraged to include IASC partners in contingency planning exercises.

The cluster approach. The cluster approach was used in four major new emergencies in 2006: Pakistan, Indonesia (Yogyakarta), Lebanon and the Philippines. It was also introduced in five countries with ongoing humanitarian operations: the DRC, Liberia, Somalia, Uganda and Colombia. Gaps areas addressed included logistics, water/sanitation, nutrition, early recovery, camp coordination and management, protection, health, emergency telecommunications and emergency shelter. To facilitate the capacity-building effort, a Cluster Appeal for Improving Global Humanitarian Response Capacity
was launched in March 2006, requesting more than US$ 38 million to train deployable emergency staff, to boost common emergency stockpiles and to develop commonly agreed standards, guidelines, frameworks, systems and tools for emergency response. US$ 25 million (65 per cent) has been contributed so far although most of the funding arrived late in the appeals process, adversely affecting fulfilment of global cluster capacity-building objectives.

By designating clear focal points within the international humanitarian community for all the main sectors, the cluster approach should help governments to ensure well-coordinated and structured responses.

In a number of countries where the cluster approach was used, national authorities recognized its value in bringing more structure, accountability and professionalism to response. The approach also demonstrated added value in providing one single accountable focal point for the authorities and humanitarian partners engaged in sector specific programming on the ground. At the end of 2006, the IASC conducted an Interim Self-Assessment of Implementation of the Cluster Approach in the Field which indicated that the cluster approach created a stronger spirit of partnership in the field, enhancing predictability and leadership and resulting in an increased focus on some of the well-known gap areas such as water/sanitation and protection. For example, in the response to the humanitarian emergency in Lebanon, lead agencies were designated for all the key sectors within the first few days, in sharp contrast to Darfur where for many months at the beginning of the emergency there had been a lack of clarity regarding the roles and responsibilities of some of the key agencies.

Most global clusters confirmed that their work on setting common response standards and harmonizing response tools led to greater pooling of knowledge and sharing of best practices, better contingency planning and more effective use of existing resources. The development of cluster-specific training programmes and emergency rosters addressed the need for more trained experts in certain sectors, such as and water/sanitation and protection. Most working groups reported that their efforts at the global level led to significantly improved partnerships at the field level (including with national authorities) and had a positive impact on the working culture and communication between national, United Nations and non-United Nations humanitarian actors.

The active participation by non-government partners in global clusters was constrained by a lack of resources. Finding creative ways to ensure the continued effective engagement of key NGOs (both international and local) will be critical to ensuring the continued relevance and success of global capacity-building and response preparedness. A concern noted in the evaluation of the tsunami response– that remains to be fully addressed – was the failure of international humanitarian actors to adequately build on the capacities of national NGOs, and to transfer knowledge and resources in preparation for the post-emergency phase. There is a general recognition that national NGOs often have, among other benefits, a comparative advantage in early response and operational planning because of their links with communities and authorities, as demonstrated during the initial humanitarian response in Lebanon. Efforts must be made to improve dialogue and cooperation with national NGOs, particularly those from developing countries, and to ensure their effective engagement in the Global Humanitarian Platform initiative.

In summary, there was significant progress in implementing the humanitarian reform agenda in 2006. The reform agenda is ambitious, however, and not all elements have progressed at the same pace. Much work remains to be done to consolidate new ways of working, to ensure continued added value and to build on achievements to date, so that humanitarian aid reaches those in need in a consistently predictable, effective and accountable manner. OCHA remains committed to continuing to provide support to all stakeholders as the implementation of humanitarian reform proceeds in 2007.

>> Global Cluster Leads

There are designated global cluster leads and co-leads for eleven sectors which in the past lacked either predictable leadership in situations of humanitarian emergency or strong leadership and partnership with other humanitarian actors. Sectors where leadership and accountability among international humanitarian actors are already clear are not included: food (led by WFP) and refugees (led by UNHCR).

A key responsibility of cluster leads at the country level is to ensure that humanitarian actors build on local capacity and maintain appropriate links with government and local authorities, state institutions, civil society and other stakeholders.