Humanitarian Response Reform
The last three years have been turbulent years for the humanitarian
community—Afghanistan, followed by Iraq, the Darfur crisis
in Sudan and then the Indian Ocean Tsunami and South Asia Earthquake.
Together, we have confronted a major crisis each year; each in its
own way larger than the last. The humanitarian response system has
coped with these major events and we have managed to save lives
and mitigate suffering, but these events also have changed the humanitarian
environment in which we work. Each of these major crises has in
its own way tested the humanitarian response system; they have challenged
perceptions of humanitarian assistance as impartial, they have challenged
the appropriateness of our response and they have challenged our
capacity to respond.
The humanitarian response system was designed well over a decade
ago. In general, it has stood the test of time well and while there
is no need for major reform we do need a “system upgrade”
that makes the tools that we developed in the 1990’s work
more effectively in the environment of 2006.
There are three main elements to the humanitarian reform: 1) to
create more predictable humanitarian finances to ensure and enable
a prompt response to new or rapidly deteriorating crises; 2) to
strengthen response capacity by establishing a system of cluster
leads in those areas of activity where there are clearly identified
gaps, and finally, 3) to strengthen the Humanitarian Coordinator
system to better support field coordination. As such, OCHA field
offices will in many ways be at the forefront of all three elements
of humanitarian reform.
One priority of the reform process has been to modernise the existing
Central Emergency Revolving Fund (CERF) by adding a grant element,
thereby creating a Central Emergency Response Fund (upgraded CERF)
which will have a target of US$ 500 million to be achieved over
three years (US$ 450 million grant, US$ 50 million revolving loan).
A number of pledges have already been made to the new CERF. Pending
GA approval, OCHA anticipates that we should be able to have the
new mechanism in place with an initial US$ 250 million in early
2006. This will be a significant achievement that will help allow
us to respond promptly to new crises and rapidly deteriorating existing
crises. It will also enable us to address core needs in chronically
under-funded emergencies. This upgraded CERF is an additional mechanism
alongside the CAP – to which we remain strongly committed
and for which we will continue to advocate for full funding.
Strengthening the capacity of the humanitarian response system
is the second crucial element of humanitarian reform.
In consultation with the IASC, we have agreed to establish cluster
leads in ten areas of humanitarian activity where there is a need
to reinforce the current response capacity.1 So far
the current discussion has focused on strengthening existing capacity.
The cluster leadership approach, at field level, should provide
more effective technical support to the HC while also broadening
the base of technical coordination through a stronger engagement
of humanitarian partners. However, cluster leadership and coordination
as currently envisaged goes beyond this in proposing that cluster/sectoral
structures should be maintained at both the field and global level.
As such, clusters would provide support to agencies and partners
involved in cluster activities as well as supporting standard setting
and potentially engaging in common training activities. OCHA believes
that these commitments by cluster leads constitute significant progress
in establishing improved predictability, accountability and greater
effectiveness of response for the humanitarian system.
The IASC Principals have agreed that there needs to be a phased
implementation of this approach. It will be applied to all new major
disasters, as is currently the case in the South Asia Earthquake,
and will be enhanced by the establishment of a cluster lead for
disaster evacuees. The application of this approach to existing
emergencies will be based on an assessment of capacity in those
countries where it is felt that there is a need to strengthen the
effectiveness of humanitarian response. The countries that are initially
proposed for this assessment will include, but not be limited to
Liberia, DRC and Uganda. The assessment of capacity should not be
understood as limited to any particular sector or group of sectors,
but rather should be undertaken by all the clusters.
There will undoubtedly be cost implications resulting from our
efforts to strengthen humanitarian response capacity. These will
be addressed as part of a consolidated approach that OCHA will make
to donors on behalf of the cluster leads and will be primarily based
on the results of an assessment exercise. For the immediate time
being the costs of cluster leadership will not be included in the
OCHA’s field role should be seen as facilitating the working
of these clusters and identifying and responding to the common inter–cluster
issues that arise. OCHA is hopeful that this approach to cluster
leadership will broaden the base of coordination as well as ensuring
that those with the appropriate technical expertise take charge
of managing their clusters.
Finally, strengthening the support that is given to both Resident
Coordinators and RC/HCs will be a critical third element of these
humanitarian reforms. OCHA is currently working with IASC members
to review the selection and identification of RC/HCs to ensure that
they are equipped with the right skills and experience for the humanitarian
coordination challenges that they face. The Humanitarian Coordination
system will be strengthened by establishing a broad and flexible
selection pool, bringing humanitarian experience to countries where
there are clear humanitarian issues and ensuring that RCs are better
prepared to respond to humanitarian crises, including natural disasters.
If the objectives of Humanitarian Reform are realized, the result
will be a humanitarian system that is better equipped to handle
long recognized gaps in capacity and introduces new levels of accountability
and responsibility throughout the system.
- Nutrition (UNICEF),Water/Sanitation (UNICEF), Health (WHO),
Shelter (Conflict IDPs) (UNHCR), Camp Coordination in Conflict
for IDPs, (UNHCR), Protection in conflict for IDPs, (UNHCR) Logistics
(WFP), Telecoms (OCHA/UNICEF/WFP), Early Recovery (UNDP), Education