Assessment on the Afghanistan Kabul based humanitarian coordination mechanisms June-September 2009
The following is a summary of the NGO and Humanitarian Reform Projects cluster coordination open for public dissemination, more in depth analysis on each cluster will be raised in discussion with the respective cluster leadership. The assessment is based on the Humanitarian Reform Officers observation/ participation in the monthly cluster meetings, interviews with the cluster UN leads and deputy leads, discussion sessions with the NGO partnership in the respective cluster, individual discussions with NGOs participating in the clusters during the period from June to September 2009. The assessment is based on where the clusters are in relation to the following simple definition on cluster function.
1) Gather together humanitarian partners working in the same sector. Relevant representation of relevant humanitarian actors.
2) Collect and compile the information available to the partners which will then become the cluster baseline.
3) With the baseline available develop an understanding of the prioritized needs on a country wide basis and a cluster strategy to respond to these needs to ensure that gaps are identified and met and that the cluster partners have the capacity to respond.
4) Use the HAP process as a framework for articulating the sector strategy and developing the response strategy which the request for proposals should embody.
5) Develop a cluster Workplan to guide the cluster in fulfilling its strategy, ensuring funding for the needs identified, ensuring capacity building of the partners to be able to meet the needs and working on advocacy issues that have been identified while developing the strategy, develop tools to measure the impact of the cluster response to the identified needs. The HRP initially commissioned a baseline mapping study of the progress of humanitarian reform in Afghanistan. The commissioned author Antonio Donini had the following to say about the task he was given.
"This report highlights key challenges and dilemmas that the humanitarian community in general, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in particular, are facing in Afghanistan today. The terms of reference (TOR) envisioned that this exercise would provide a baseline against which progress on humanitarian reform could be assessed. However, in Afghanistan humanitarian reform issues pale in comparison to the bigger issues of redressing the credibility of the humanitarian enterprise and addressing the potentially escalating assistance and protection needs of civilians caught up in conflict and crisis."
Hence his report provided an excellent analysis of the humanitarian context in Afghanistan but it did not look closely at the coordination mechanism guiding the overall intervention. Although Humanitarian reform issues indeed do pale in comparison to the overall complexities of the challenges faced here by the humanitarian community and the Afghan population in particular, never the less are they instrumental to the response strategy of the humanitarian community while at the same time the underlying complexities provide some of the answer as to why the humanitarian coordination structure in Afghanistan so far fails to ensure a comprehensive and strategic response to some of the most urgent needs of the population.