The cluster approach in Mozambique 2007: Is it improving emergency response? An NGO perspective

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
Originally published



This report examines the roll-out of the clusters approach in response to the floods in Mozambique in February 2007, from the perspective of an international non-governmental organisation (NGO).

ActionAid has been following - and participating in - the cluster approach roll-out since it was first set out in the Humanitarian Response Review paper in August 2005. As an executive committee member of the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA), which has representation on the InterAgency Standing Committee (IASC), and through its own country programmes, ActionAid seeks to work in partnership with other humanitarian actors to improve emergency response for the benefit of affected people.

In September 2005 the IASC Principals meeting proposed that 'clusters should be the framework for humanitarian response in major new emergencies'. Less than a month later, on 8 October 2005, the South Asia earthquake struck, and the Humanitarian Coordinator, together with the United Nations Country Team and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination Team (UNDAC) in Pakistan, took the decision to use the cluster approach. Nine clusters were set up within 24 hours. ActionAid undertook a study of that experience, which was presented jointly with ICVA in Geneva in April 2006. (1)

This study, which focuses on the aim of the cluster approach to improve the quality of partnerships, seeks to follow up that earlier research and assess how far the international humanitarian system - led by the United Nations - has come in implementing a more accountable, predictable and coordinated system for emergency response, which truly embraces the concept of partnership. It is ActionAid's contribution to the first phase of the external evaluation of the clusters approach, taking place between June and November 2007.


Preparation for this report included a visit to Mozambique at the end of September 2007 with time spent in Mutarara, ActionAid's base during the February 2007 flood. Interviews were carried out with district and regional government officials, affected communities, community leaders and NGOs operating in the area. In Maputo interviews were held with United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef), World Food Programme (WFP), the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations Resident Coordinator, the European Commission, the World Bank, the Mozambican Red Cross, Save the Children and World Vision International. Subsequent interviews by telephone or in person were held with Concern and with the national director of the INGC, and OCHA staff based in Johannesburg, Geneva and New York. The report was written and researched by Anne Street, ActionAid Policy Analyst, International Emergencies and Conflict.


(1) The evolving UN cluster approach in the aftermath of the Pakistan earthquake: An NGO perspective. ActionAid April 2006.