Building a more effective humanitarian coordination system
While OCHA adapts to evolving global conditions and working with a more diverse group of partners, our core brief remains the same: providing effective coordination services for the humanitarian community in emergencies. Humanitarian leadership remains critical, with the Humanitarian Coordinator (HC) the pivotal figure.
Getting the right candidates for HC posts is crucial. With the pressure of working in increasingly complex environments and the need to always be ready for the unexpected, HCs have to be dynamic humanitarian leaders who can take charge in any crisis situation. In 2012 and 2013, OCHA will double its efforts to expand the HC pool by identifying and recruiting potential HCs from UN and non-UN organizations. This will require a dedicated capacity within OCHA and engagement with partner organizations and donors to encourage them to make available their most qualified staff. In addition to the expansion of the regular HC pool, OCHA will develop a roster of experienced leaders available to deploy within 72 hours of a sudden-onset crisis.
Once in situ, HCs must have the necessary structures and support in place to enable them to provide effective leadership. Over the next two years we will increase our efforts to provide this. Solid support for RCs/HCs on the ground in the event of a sudden-onset crisis is crucial, particularly in the first 72 hours. In 2012 and 2013, OCHA will support the development of inter-agency training aimed at senior staff identified across the IASC system, preparing them for rapid deployment in crisis situations.
To improve communications between headquarters and HCs in the field, OCHA will develop a system for tracking and monitoring each HC’s priorities, achievements and support requirements. OCHA’s operational arm (CRD) will provide direct follow-up.
On the ground, OCHA will continue to make our field offices stronger, more versatile and more directly useful to HCs, particularly in areas such as inter-cluster coordination and information management. Working with our partners, we will also organize inter-cluster missions to the field, ensuring HCs benefit from tighter coordination at local level.
Bringing more accountability into the system, OCHA will convene annual meetings of IASC members to get feedback on HC performance. OCHA will also support HCs and HCTs in developing a strategic framework for each country where we work, outlining humanitarian response priorities and expected results. Conscious of the dangers of permanent “clusterization”, OCHA will support the periodic review of clusters and ensure that HCs and HCTs have adequate guidance on how to scale down and phase out clusters.
Evidence and analysis
Over the past two years, OCHA has made significant advances in information management (IM), and the systems and tools used by HCs, HCTs and clusters. OCHA is now committed to creating a new IM system, drawing on relevant elements of the existing system. It will offer comprehensive humanitarian data for all stages of the humanitarian programme cycle, from needs assessments through planning and implementation to evaluation.
Needs assessments are becoming more sophisticated and systematic, using a coordinated approach in OCHA country offices that focuses on capacity-building, preparedness and surge capacity in responding to sudden-onset disasters. The availability of more comprehensive information will lead to more focused and cost-efficient joint planning and resource allocation, benefiting CAPs and the pooled-fund systems.
At the other end of the cycle, new and improved mechanisms will look to provide fuller situation and performance monitoring. OCHA will ensure robust information flow on humanitarian needs and response. It will use standard indicators to draw comparisons over time and between different crises, and provide the basis for thorough evaluation of impact and effectiveness. OCHA will continue to ensure that specific gender-related needs are addressed in humanitarian work with use of the gender marker in CAPs and pooled funds. This will include analysis of change over time to reach a target of 15 per cent of projects that significantly address gender equality. Among other improvements planned for 2012 and 2013, OCHA headquarters’ units will work together to give coherent coaching to country offices on how to exercise coordination systematically around the programme cycle, and how to train OCHA and agency field staff to effectively perform their functions for each element of the cycle.