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During and immediately after a crisis, urgent action is required to save lives. At the same time, from the start of humanitarian response, time critical interventions which lay the foundations for sustainable recovery and a speedy return to longer term development are also imperative.

Early Recovery (ER) is an approach that addresses recovery needs that arise during the humanitarian phase of an emergency; using humanitarian mechanisms that align with development principles. It enables people to use the benefits of humanitarian action to seize development opportunities, build resilience, and establish a sustainable process of recovery from crisis.

Early Recovery is both an approach to humanitarian response which, through enhanced coordination, focuses on strengthening resilience, re-building or strengthening capacity, and contributing to solving rather than exacerbating long standing problems which have contributed to a crisis; and also a set of specific programmatic actions to help people to move from dependence on humanitarian relief towards development.

Early Recovery is never just a ‘phase’. It is a multidimensional process of recovery that begins in the early days of a humanitarian response. An Early Recovery approach means focusing on local ownership and strengthening capacities; basing interventions on a thorough understanding of the context to address root causes and vulnerabilities as well as immediate results of crisis; reducing risk, promoting equality and preventing discrimination through adherence to development principles that seek to build on humanitarian programmes and catalyse sustainable development opportunities. It aims to generate self-sustaining, nationally owned, resilient processes for post crisis recovery and to put in place preparedness measures to mitigate the impact of future crises.



In 2013, the IASC Principals have requested all clusters (with the exception of ETC and Logistics) to integrate early recovery into all the different phases of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle as the foundation for strengthening resilience in a crisis or post-crisis context.

The Global Cluster for Early Recovery (GCER), is chaired by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and comprises 31 UN and non-UN active global partners from the humanitarian and development communities,including representatives of NGO consortia and cross-cutting issue Focal Points.  The Global Cluster for Early Recovery Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) is the principal advisory body for the GCER. The SAG is composed of ActionAid, FAO, IOM, MSB, OCHA, UNDP (chair), UNICEF, and WFP.  

The GCER leads global and interagency efforts to establish and maintain standards and policy, build response capacity and provide operational support.



  1. Strategic support and policy guidance
  2. Cluster coordination
  3. Tools and technical support
  4. Resource mobilization and partnerships
  5. Policy and tools development
  6. Monitoring and evaluation



The recognition of early recovery by the IASC Principals as an essential part of humanitarian action in 2013 has allowed to better integrate early recovery in the response and on ensuring it happens on the ground. Drawing on more than 55 consultations with inter-agency actors this revised Guidance Note on Early Recovery has been prepared to provide clear and accessible suggestions and good practice to promote and enable more systematic and strategic integration of Early Recovery across all sectors of international humanitarian response. Early Recovery coordination seeks to improve the humanitarian response with the integration of early recovery by generating a decision-making process that is inclusive, transparent, consultative, guided by objectives, and evidence-based. A key aim is to engage operational actors and partners in the planning process in a manner that enables them to influence the direction of the response, and to negotiate priorities and resources in a rational and cooperative manner.

Early recovery is a vital element of an effective humanitarian response. It is an integrated, inclusive and coordinated approach to gradually turn the dividends of humanitarian action into sustainable crisis recovery, resilience building and development opportunities. The IASC Principals requested UNDP, as Chair of the Global Cluster for Early Recovery, to identify recommendations to strengthen early recovery as an integral part of humanitarian response. The recommendations included in this document were endorsed by the IASC Principals in 2013 after a broad consultation process.

This Guide has been developed in accordance with the Secretary-General Policy Committee Decision: to design guidance for field-based practitioners on how to develop a strategy for supporting durable solutions for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees returning to their country of origin. The Guide is thus limited to situations where there are internally displaced persons and where refugees have returned to their countries of origin or habitual residence, if not to their regions of origin. While the SG Decision explicitly refers to “ending displacement in the aftermath of conflict” it is relevant to other displacement situations. Disasters, generalized violence, human rights violations and development related displacement similarly require a rights-based approach and a collective, coherent and coordinated response. In reality, displacement can arise in contexts characterized by a complex mix of conflict, disasters and environmental degradation.

The Strategic Plan 2015-2017 provides an overview of the vision and goals of the Global Cluster for Early Recovery. It also provides a focused and accountable overarching framework for collective action by organizations involved in Early Recovery. It is designed with specific outcomes in mind reflecting priority initiatives and areas of our work. It is is supported by the “how to” Guidance Note on Inter-Cluster Early Recovery to assist in integration and implementation of Early Recovery. This plan is aligned with the current humanitarian architecture and reflects the existing institutional commitments and IASC Principals Recommendations on Strengthening Early Recovery. It aims to contribute to smarter humanitarian action leading the humanitarian and development actors into a complementary foundation for successful transition and recovery from crisis.

Requirements & Mid-Year Funding Analysis (2016) In 2015, the Global Cluster for Early Recovery sought to measure how well early recovery was integrated into each cluster, and in parallel to advance understanding of the relative importance of early recovery principles and practice in humanitarian crisis overall. The Overview highlights several trends based on Inter-Cluster Early Recovery projects across 2015. All analysed country response plans proposed a significant number of early recovery focused projects. 47% of all projects analysed relate to early recovery. The proportion of these projects ranged from 15% in Mauritania to 65% in Nigeria. The proportion of ER funding requested across 9 clusters was, on average, 35% - ranging from 18% for CCCM to 48% for Education (not including the Early Recovery Cluster 100%).