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OCHA Strategic Framework 2010-2013

Overview

Strategic Framework 2010-2013

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The OCHA Strategic Framework 2010-2013 details OCHA priorities for the next four years. It provides additional detail to the United Nations Strategic Framework for the period 2010-2011, which was approved by the General Assembly at its Sixty-Third Session in 2008, and will feed into the development of the United Nations Strategic Framework for the 2012-2013 biennium. The new OCHA Strategic Framework serves to ensure that the organization delivers on its core mandate (derived from General Assembly Resolution 46/182, and subsequent GA, Economic and Social Council and Security Council resolutions), while responding to contemporary global challenges and their implications for humanitarian coordination.

For the first time, the OCHA Strategic Framework (which will be published in early 2010) will include underlying strategies, by objective, with benchmarks to guide the 2010 and subsequent planning processes.

OCHA works to ensure that the international humanitarian system is prepared to: (a) respond effectively to humanitarian needs; and, (b) support national efforts to coordinate the system-wide response when emergencies arise. Substantively, the new framework was developed around these two areas, to be addressed through OCHA primary functions: coordination, advocacy, policy, information management and humanitarian financing.

The OCHA Strategic Framework 2010-2013 builds on the achievements of the OCHA Strategic Framework 2007-2009, feeding key organizational and system-wide learning back into the planning cycle. One important element of learning was a “meta-evaluation”1 of the various evaluation recommendations directed at OCHA from 2004-2007. The meta-evaluation examined the extent to which these recommendations were addressed systematically by OCHA management, including through the Strategic Framework 2007-2009. Most of the recommendations of the meta-evaluation have been built into the new framework. Others will be the subject of further analysis, as part of a new OCHA evaluation policy and strategy, to come into effect in early 2010. This includes a forthcoming review of internal OCHA Gender Equality Policy, examining the extent to which OCHA is effectively incorporating a gender perspective into all areas of its work. It will recommend actions to render more practical the OCHA commitment to gender mainstreaming, and these will be integrated progressively into OCHA work plans for 2010 and beyond.

The development of the new framework also helped OCHA to focus on the major global trends and threats – such as climate change, population growth, urbanization, commodity price fluctuations, natural resource scarcity and financial crises – which have important implications for humanitarian coordination (see p.25, “Global Challenges”).

The previous Strategic Framework enshrined humanitarian reform as the manner in which OCHA operates and had significant achievements. The cluster approach was implemented in nearly every country with an HC, and was consistently rolled out. Humanitarian coordination leadership was strengthened through improved accountability and clarity of roles. Partnerships between the United Nations and non-United Nations parts of the humanitarian system were reinforced. Pooled funding at global and country level made an ever more significant contribution to humanitarian relief and coordination. Flash appeals are now published and revised much more quickly. Consolidated appeals now represent more inclusive strategies as well as more comprehensive barometers of humanitarian requirements. The concerted resource mobilization efforts of OCHA at all levels (CO/RO/HQ) have resulted in notable increases in resources for the CERF, CHFs and ERFs.

However, the results of the previous framework leave other problems untouched. Humanitarian access concerns in complex emergencies and increasingly unsafe operating environments severely compromise humanitarian action. The OCHA role in response preparedness requires further clarification. The triggers for scaling up and down operations and the application of the OCHA-supported suite of tools and services require more predictability to respond consistently and effectively to the humanitarian consequences of crises and meet the rising expectations of partners and clients. Humanitarian coordination leadership and architecture must be consolidated to ensure that OCHA is adapting to contemporary expectations of humanitarian coordination. The various components of the programme cycle – preparedness, needs assessment and analysis, joint planning, resource allocation and monitoring and evaluation – can be more tightly linked. And analytical work and organization and system-wide learning can do a far better job of informing decision-making – transparently, jointly, in real time.

OCHA therefore refocused its goals and objectives for 2010-2013 through a thorough and collaborative process. This wide-ranging exercise reflected the ideas, insights and feedback from a steering group of OCHA substantive experts, and included regular OCHA Senior Management Team review, staff consultations at all levels, regional and global management retreats, interviews with key partners, and a review of IASC priorities and IASC organization strategic plans. The process also entailed regular consultations with the OCHA Donor Support Group.

The new framework will be a living document. While the targeted 2013 end-state results and broad milestones to attain them are being identified, the overall strategies – which plot a detailed course from 2010 to 2013 – must remain flexible to accommodate the dynamic nature of the challenges and take into account the lessons from country-level implementation. As described in both the Strategic Plan 2010 and Coordination Activities in the Field sections of this report (Part II and Part III), the performance framework outputs and indicators have been identified for 2010. The relevant measurements for subsequent years of the new framework will be developed over time, based on a systematic mid-year and annual monitoring of progress towards agreed targets.

The following is a brief overview of the OCHA Strategic Framework 2010-2013.

Goal 1 – A more enabling operating environment for humanitarian affairs

OCHA seeks to engage with a larger and more diverse group of stakeholders to address the humanitarian impact of global challenges. OCHA will further embed relationship-building in all aspects of its work. By doing so, OCHA aims to build greater credibility and a stronger ability to lead and advocate on humanitarian issues, thereby gaining a wider acceptance of humanitarian principles. Underpinning this goal is the necessity for a more thorough analysis of the environment in which humanitarians operate, as well as the emerging trends and issues affecting the world today. Critical to the achievement of this goal is OCHA using its unique convening role within the international humanitarian system to catalyse action by others.

Objective 1.1 – Partnerships with a wider group of Member States and regional organizations in support of humanitarian action

By 2013, a better internally coordinated OCHA should have strengthened relationships (at the policy, operational and financial levels) with a more diverse group of Member States and regional organizations. The relationships should enhance two-way dialogue in order to improve humanitarian response in a changing humanitarian landscape.

Objective 1.2 – Relationships strengthened with a wider group of operational partners and other relevant actors to advance humanitarian action

To maintain its credibility and ability to coordinate humanitarian action in increasingly complex environments, OCHA will systematically engage the expanding number of relevant stakeholders involved in humanitarian preparedness and response. This will be done in a more proactive, targeted and integrated manner. It involves both nurturing existing relations with operational partners (such as IASC organizations) and engaging more strategically and systematically with – and influencing – other actors such as Department of Political Affairs (DPA), Department of Peace-keeping Operations (DPKO), Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO), Department of Safety and Security (DSS), the World Bank, and the private sector. It also recognizes the need to leverage relationships with other entities shaping the environment in which humanitarians work (such as non-state actors and think tanks).

Objective 1.3 – Defined roles and responsibilities within OCHA and among international development and humanitarian partners to support Member States and regional organizations in response preparedness

OCHA will define more clearly the boundaries of its role in preparedness, consistent with its mandate, with regard to supporting governments and regional organizations in response preparedness. OCHA aims to intensify discussions among partners to help provide greater understanding and predictability on institutional roles, responsibilities and accountabilities in response preparedness.

Objective 1.4 – Humanitarian response and response preparedness are underpinned by integrated analysis and rigorous learning

OCHA internal capacities for analysis and learning at the global, regional and country level will be interlinked and marshaled more effectively to shape and influence humanitarian action. OCHA will identify/organize relevant information and provide analysis in a coordinated manner, in direct support of the USG/ERC leadership role within the international humanitarian system, including shaping the policy agenda and identifying upcoming challenges. OCHA will lead the humanitarian community in identifying analytical input and advocacy issues to improve the humanitarian system. It will systematically and accurately communicate its findings to a targeted set of actors, thus informing decision-making and policy.

Goal 2 – A more effective humanitarian coordination system

Within this enabling environment, OCHA will facilitate more effective coordination of principled, timely and efficient humanitarian assistance and protection. OCHA will support coordination mechanisms and approaches that are predictable, accountable and inclusive, and led by effective leaders. This goal serves to consolidate the gains of humanitarian reform, and address areas for improvement, such as: leadership and accountability at all levels of the new coordination architecture; well defined inter-cluster support by OCHA at all stages of engagement (before, during and after an emergency); and an evidence base to underpin planning and resource allocation. Internally and externally, OCHA must join the various elements of the programme cycle into a seamless suite of tools that mutually reinforce one another. This will ensure well-planned, well-resourced humanitarian action according to need.

Objective 2.1 – Effective mechanisms that manage and support accountable humanitarian coordination leaders

Host governments have the primary responsibility for preparing for and leading responses to humanitarian emergencies in their countries. To assist them in this task, a number of international actors also have leadership responsibilities. These include: the RCs and/or HCs, Deputy Humanitarian Coordinators and cluster leads. OCHA Heads of Office at the country level support coordination leaders and undertake a number of humanitarian coordination functions. The aim is for all humanitarian coordination leaders to have adequate skills, knowledge and experience so tasks can be effectively managed and adequately supported. In addition, coordination mechanisms must be strengthened; policy issues must be resolved; and institutional hindrances must be mitigated.

Objective 2.2 – An OCHA capable of responding quickly with clear triggers for establishing, phasing and drawing down operations

OCHA will seek to identify objectively high risk countries and then, based on high quality analysis and clear triggers, use the right set of preparedness, emergency response, field presence and transition options. The ability to deploy staff quickly is a critical element of a timely response. As part of its new strategy to ensure continuous staffing in emergencies, issues related to surge capacity are addressed under Objective 3.2, which deals with the recruitment and deployment of staff.

Objective 2.3 – A more predictable and scalable suite of OCHA services and tools to support leaders and partners in response preparedness, humanitarian response, and transition

OCHA will provide more predictable services and tools before, during and after an emergency. OCHA aims to be more responsive to partner needs, providing updated services that match the expectations of the new humanitarian coordination architecture. This should include, for example, a more rigorous and standardized OCHA approach to supporting inter-cluster coordination, including ensuring more predictable and effective response to internal displacement; facilitating high-level situation assessments and analysis to support advocacy and strategic decision-making; and supporting the HC to promote compliance with humanitarian principles and develop and implement strategies to enhance access. Related to the role of OCHA in supporting inter-cluster/sector coordination is an important sub-set of activities to ensure more inclusive, rigorous, and evidence-based common planning, resource allocation, monitoring, evaluation, and reporting on results. Accordingly, OCHA is giving special attention to this sub-set under Objective 2.4.

Objective 2.4 – A more systematic coordination of the common humanitarian programme cycle (preparedness, needs assessment and analysis, joint planning, resource allocation and monitoring and evaluation)

At the country level, RC/HCs, supported by OCHA, are accountable for the key aspects of collective humanitarian action. These aspects, taken together, essentially amount to the whole programme cycle of humanitarian action for sudden onset and protracted crises: preparedness planning; needs assessment and analysis; joint programme planning; joint resource mobilization and allocation; and monitoring and evaluation. At the headquarters level, OCHA is the custodian for the tools used for these purposes. It is expected to enhance and ensure quality control over these tools, while reinforcing their inter-dependence.

Goal 3 – Strengthened OCHA management and administration

To support effective humanitarian coordination, OCHA must employ an adaptive management framework. The OCHA human resources system should more rapidly recruit, deploy and maintain qualified and diverse staff, and establish improved career development support. OCHA must strengthen internal and external surge coordination, ensuring a continuous and appropriate presence. It must seek to improve performance through managing for results, enhanced accountability, and organizational learning that feeds back into the programme cycle.

Objective 3.1 – Effective, timely, transparent and accurate financial, budgetary and resource management and reporting

OCHA will work to promote a financial management culture of increased accountability and greater decision-making authority for programme managers. OCHA fundraising and allocation management will be rendered more effective, timely and accurate. OCHA will re-engineer and bolster its processes and systems (HQ and field) to better support and facilitate timely financial decision-making and reporting. OCHA will seek to improve predictability in annual resource requirements and enable managers to play a defined role in fundraising and allocation. Managers will be systematically informed about OCHA priorities and activities, to better nurture the support of the OCHA Donor Support Group (ODSG) and emerging donors.

Objective 3.2 – Adequate and timely recruitment, deployment and retention of qualified and diverse staff

OCHA recruitment and selection will be expedited to ensure flexibility, responsiveness, continuity and effectiveness – while guaranteeing appropriate geographical and gender balance. OCHA needs to foster a results and performance-oriented culture through effective management and regular, proactive, and professional human resource support. Career planning mechanisms should attract and retain qualified and motivated OCHA staff. Staff development should build and maintain the necessary skills to achieve results. And internal and external surge coordination should be enhanced, providing a continuous and adequate presence of qualified staff to satisfy operational requirements.

Objective 3.3 – Improved organizational learning and development to achieve better results

To help ensure that it unfailingly delivers high quality service and support to its clients, OCHA will set clear and consistent expectations regarding the achievement of results by managers, their teams, and individual staff members. OCHA will set and communicate its expected results through better integrated (e.g. cross-branch, cross HQ/RO/CO) planning, guidance and training systems that are built on lessons learned and provide a basis for individual and team performance monitoring and accountability mechanisms.

Global Challenges and Their Impact on International Humanitarian Action2

The humanitarian landscape is being shaped in new and profound ways by threatening global challenges. These include: climate change; the recent global food crisis (which has not gone away and, in fact, has worsened in some cases); population growth, urbanization and other demographic shifts, entailing more people living in high risk areas; land, water and energy scarcities; global health pandemics; and the impact of the current global economic and financial crisis on those already poor and most vulnerable.

Humanitarian stakeholders are deeply concerned about the impact of these global challenges on vulnerable people around the world; the possibility for them to increase both the depth and incidence of humanitarian needs; and their implications for delivering assistance in new and increasingly complex operational contexts.

Anticipating the evolution of these challenges – propelled by various political, economic, legal, demographic, environmental, and technological factors – is a complex task. However, the individual and combined impacts are already shaping, and will continue to shape, international humanitarian action.

Accordingly, when OCHA initiated the process of developing its new Strategic Framework 2010-2013, it conducted a preliminary desk analysis of the impact of these challenges on humanitarian action. Drawing on the work of multiple sources, OCHA placed particular focus on the implications regarding humanitarian caseloads, the humanitarian operating environment, and issues raised for humanitarian coordination.

This preliminary analysis identified three main areas that require further discussion and debate with partners:

  1. The humanitarian community may need to broaden its notions of vulnerability and risk, reconsider what drives a humanitarian emergency and, subsequently, what triggers an international humanitarian response. A new type of humanitarian emergency may emerge, one not caused by a definable event or process, but rather by the confluence of global challenges.
  2. While traditional inter‐ and intra‐state conflicts will continue, insecurity will also stem from instability and violence driven by the intersection of non‐traditional threats from natural resource scarcities, volatile markets, and structural trends, such as urbanization and extreme poverty.
  3. There will increasingly be a need to transcend traditional definitions of what is “humanitarian” and “developmental”. This will assist in moving toward more integrated country plans and partnerships that may simultaneously promote actions that increase resilience in the short‐term and reduce overall vulnerability in the long‐term.

For OCHA work, one conclusion is clear: the observed and potential impact of these global challenges on vulnerable people around the world will require coordination with a wider and more diverse set of actors and more strategic partnerships, particularly with a broader group of Member States and Regional Organizations.

The Strategic Framework 2010-2013 expresses OCHA commitment to work with partners over the next four years to further examine the validity and significance of these projected global challenges, and to ensure that OCHA, together with the international humanitarian system, remains responsive to a changing world.