Uganda: IASC CLUSTER APPROACH EVALUATION, 2ND PHASE COUNTRY STUDY, APRIL 2010
Uganda was a pilot country for the introduction of the cluster approach. Clusters were formally introduced in the country in 2005/06. At that time, very little global guidance existed for the cluster approach. This created a range of particular challenges for its implementation in Uganda. At the same time, the experiences gained in Uganda informed the development of the cluster approach at the global level.
This report assesses the operational effectiveness and main outcomes of the cluster approach in Uganda. It is one of six country case studies conducted for the second phase of the global evaluation of the cluster approach. The evaluation mission was conducted in September 2009, at a time when the clusters in Uganda were planning their phase-out and closure. The evaluation team participated in a large number of cluster meetings at the national and sub-national level and consulted with a broad range of stakeholders, including national and local authorities, UN agencies, OCHA, the Humanitarian Coordinator, NGOs, the International Committee of the Red Cross and groups of affected people in camps for internally displaced persons, as well as return areas.
The main achievements of the cluster approach in Uganda within the context of broader humanitarian reform include:
- The roles and responsibilities of lead agencies became clearer and the exercise of leadership more reliable and predictable.
- Partnership between UN agencies and NGOs strengthened and peer accountability and cohesiveness were enhanced.
- Better information on major gaps became available and duplications could be reduced.
- Coverage improved for the thematic areas of child protection and gender-based violence.
- The response to localized acute emergencies improved.
- The planning process for the Consolidated Appeal Process improved. The cluster approach in Uganda faced the following challenges that can provide valuable lessons for other contexts in which the cluster approach is implemented:
- A lack of clarity about the concept of the cluster approach and how it was to be implemented created considerable confusion and resistance in the early days of its introduction.
- The activation process was top-down, with little consultation and subsequent buy-in of humanitarian actors on the ground and the national government.
- Clusters as coordination fora were introduced parallel to sector meetings, leading to a multiplication of meetings, undermining the effectiveness of sector meetings and weakening ownership.
- Local actors, including the authorities, civil society and affected populations, remained largely excluded from the cluster approach.
- The effective functioning of the cluster approach was hampered by a lack of consideration for cross-cutting issues, as well as insufficient inter-cluster coordination.
The experience with the cluster approach in Uganda and the findings made during the evaluation mission lead to a set of recommendations that can help a more effective implementation of the cluster approach in other areas.