Objective 3.3 – Organizational Learning for Results

To provide high-quality service and support to its clients, OCHA must be capable of applying lessons learned and instituting good practice. Its staff must be flexible and adapt to the dynamic and complex nature of humanitarian action.

OCHA learning rests on four pillars: evaluation, internal policy and guidance development, staff development and training, and strategic planning. The pillars support organizational coherence, better performance, and the development of OCHA staff into competent professionals and leaders in humanitarian coordination.

One year into the 2010-2013 Strategic Framework, these corporate support services are paying dividends. OCHA has a solid basis to forward plan, set clearer performance measures, monitor progress and provide a more sound evidence basis for its performance reporting. This will strengthen OCHA’s ability to tell a more compelling story about its work and impact.

OCHA has finalized its internal evaluation policy along with a four-year implementation strategy to assess performance and impact. Two evaluations were carried out in 2010: OCHA’s corporate response to the Haiti earthquake and the organization’s implementation of its gender-equity policy. The findings of the latter were used to develop a standard set of OCHA-wide performance indicators on gender equity. These were included in OCHA’s 2011 workplanning process and will enable more rigorous monitoring of the organization’s performance in this area (see related box on gender equality). In 2011, OCHA plans to conduct at least two evaluations focusing on OCHA’s corporate response to the flooding in Pakistan and OCHA’s global civil-military coordination capacity.

Internal Policy and
Guidance Development
OCHA has finalized policies on preparedness, transition and the role of regional and country offices to better define and govern its operations before, during and after an emergency. With these policies in place, OCHA can develop clearer benchmarks to monitor regional and country office performance in 2011 and identify areas for improvement.

Staff Development and Training

OCHA training programmes focus on developing core competencies in humanitarian coordination, client orientation and management, and are mostly geared towards field staff. A corporate induction programme was piloted and is in the final phase of development. It will offer staff the fundamentals to provide consistent, high-quality support and services across all of OCHA’s functional areas. In 2011, OCHA will develop an organizational learning strategy that will define what staff need to learn to perform their role and how various parts of the organization work together to optimize learning opportunities.

Strategic Planning

OCHA has launched a rigorous approach to implementing its Strategic Framework. Planning and monitoring have been enhanced through the creation of cross-OCHA Management Task Teams for each of the 11 strategic objectives. Led by senior managers, the teams undertook a comprehensive mid-year review of OCHA’s performance framework, leading to more focused strategies and a more realistic performance framework for 2011. The teams will ensure that experience from implementing the objectives feeds back into annual planning and further policy development.

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Gender Equality: Putting Learning into Action

Gender inequity undermines the ability of women, girls, boys and men to exercise their rights and play an active role in humanitarian preparedness and response. Addressing gender inequity ensures that humanitarian response equally benefits all affected people and avoids putting some at greater risk.

Following the establishment of OCHA’s internal Gender Equity Policy in 2005, certain advances, such as improved inter-agency guidelines, have ensured that the differential impact of disasters on males and females is better understood and integrated into humanitarian response. Services such as the Gender Standby Capacity Project (see annex for more details) provide practical hands-on support to Humanitarian Coordinators and Humanitarian Country Teams on issues related to gender inequality and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse.

Partners have high expectations of OCHA to support gender equity in humanitarian programming. However, the parameters of OCHA’s role are not always clear. In 2010, OCHA reviewed its Gender Equity Policy to clarify its particular added value and to assess its strategies for achieving gender equality. The review also assessed staff knowledge of gender-equality concepts and staff commitment to gender principles. Preliminary findings suggest that OCHA can still strengthen gender mainstreaming and ensure more active senior management leadership on the issue.

OCHA has identified an initial set of concrete deliverables (see table), which have been incorporated into all OCHA country office workplans for 2011.

  • OCHA will ensure that several of its key field-based tools (contingency plans, consolidated appeals and situation reports) use sex- and age-disaggregated data more consistently to highlight the respective needs of women, men, boys and girls throughout the humanitarian programme cycle. OCHA will also promote the collection and use of disaggregated data to improve needs analysis and programming.
  • OCHA will increase the proportion of projects in consolidated and flash appeals that strengthen gender equality. A new Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) tool, the Gender Marker, will integrate practical gender equality measures into proposals and appeals. It will provide a code, on a 0-2 scale, measuring whether or not a humanitarian project is designed well enough to ensure that the specific needs of women, girls, boys and men are being addressed.

In 2011, OCHA will launch a complete action plan to implement the accepted recommendations from the review of its Gender Equity Policy. The policy will be updated and additional standard corporate gender indicators will be established to further embed gender equity into all aspects of OCHA’s work.

OCHA will also continue to pay special attention to gender balance and representation in staff recruitment, both at headquarters and in the field. To support gender parity, OCHA will continue enabling staff to engage in flexible working hours within the applicable United Nations regulations. OCHA will also improve staff awareness of gender issues through the IASC E-Learning Course.

View Key Outputs and Indicators (PDF, 72kb)