Effective mechanisms that manage and support accountable humanitarian coordination leaders
During 2011, the ERC led the IASC in taking robust steps to improve the humanitarian response to large-scale emergencies. Working within the framework of the IASC’s transformative agenda, OCHA has committed to strengthening humanitarian leadership, accountability and coordination. OCHA’s main focus will be on helping Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs) become more effective leaders. OCHA’s approach includes enhancing the identification, selection and development of HCs; strengthening overall support to the HC in key areas such as inter-cluster coordination; and providing carefully targeted support from OCHA headquarters to HCs around the world.
In 2012-2013, OCHA will look to sharpen its recruitment procedures, identifying and screening potential HCs from UN and non-UN organizations. The aim is to access a broader range of high-caliber potential recruits for deployment in crisis situations, helping create a new generation of diverse and dynamic humanitarian leaders. OCHA will establish an internal, dedicated talent-scouting capacity, while liaising with partner organizations to ensure they give OCHA access to their most qualified staff. While expanding the regular HC pool, OCHA will develop a roster of experienced leaders available to deploy within 72 hours of a sudden-onset crisis. OCHA will continue its group trainings for RCs and HCs, but will now provide additional individualized learning support tailored to the specific needs of each leader. Team-building programmes for selected HCTs will also be launched.
OCHA will focus on strengthening accountability where it matters most: at the field level. This will mean OCHA convening annual meetings of IASC members to elicit feedback on RC/HC performance. OCHA will also support RC/HCs in developing strategic framework/compacts, taking into account the different contexts in each country. This will improve accountability for collective results and ensure that clear priorities in humanitarian response are established and followed.
Ensuring strong leadership and accountability in the field requires dedicated support from headquarters. Until now, OCHA’s support to the 30 RC/HCs worldwide has been relatively inconsistent, determined to a large extent by the level of priority given to individual crises. In 2012-2013, OCHA will increase its support, creating a dedicated unit to increase regular contact between OCHA’s Coordination and Response Division (CRD) and each RC/HC. A system for tracking and monitoring each RC/HC’s priorities, achievements and support requirements will be rolled out, forming the basis for monthly follow-up by the CRD Director and Deputy Director.
Better interaction and dialogue between HQ and RC/HCs will be complemented by active backup and guidance on the ground. A principal aim of OCHA’s targeted field missions will be to help OCHA field offices give more support to RC/HCs in key areas, such as inter-cluster coordination. OCHA will also organize and guide inter-cluster field-support missions in collaboration with inter-agency and global cluster partners.
Improving clusters is integral to boosting humanitarian response. OCHA will support the periodic review of clusters, encouraging them to be better streamlined and providing stronger analysis on gaps in humanitarian operations, planning and results.
The most critical support from humanitarian organizations for RC/HCs can often come in the first 72 hours of a sudden-onset crisis. Working in line with the IASC’s transformative agenda, in 2012-2013 OCHA will support the development of inter-agency training targeting senior staff across the IASC system for crisis deployment. The training should help staff from different branches share experience and ideas, with positive implications for all-round coordination.