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Early Recovery Workshop Report 2012


Early Recovery Workshop

I. Background

Early Recovery cluster, along with other seven clusters, was established following approval of the humanitarian coordination architecture on 24th January, 2012, by the LCG Sub-Group on Disaster and Emergency Response (LCG-DER). The humanitarian coordination architecture aims to strengthen the collective capacity of the Government, national and international actors to ensure effective humanitarian preparedness for, response to, and recovery from the impacts of, disaster in Bangladesh.  

The roll-out of “cluster approach” reflects global best practice, but in Bangladesh it is adapted to the local context considering existing structures and leadership of the Government as outlined in the Standing Orders on Disasters (SOD). The SOD outlines the way the Government will respond to large scale disasters. This reformed humanitarian architecture with the eight clusters established early 2012, aims to ensure that the efforts of the international humanitarian community and non-government actors are coordinated within themselves as well as with government efforts, not only during an emergency phase but also before and after for better preparedness and coordinated recovery. 

Since its establishment in January 2012 the Early Recovery cluster, with UNDP as Lead Agency, has actively contributed to the work of the humanitarian community in Bangladesh through participation in inter-cluster meetings; development of Phase III needs assessment methodology (in collaboration with WASH and Shelter Cluster); development of early recovery intervention strategy following flood in the south-east; etc.

The Early Recovery workshop was organized on 22nd November 2012, to take stock of the past lessons learned, and to define concept of Early Recovery in the context of Bangladesh. These lessons would also help to initiate formulation of Early Recovery Guidelines for Bangladesh. The workshop was participated by over 40 members representing government agencies, UN agencies, national and international NGOs, Red Cross/Red Crescent Organizations, and Donors representatives (please refer to Annex for list of participants). The proceeding of the workshop and the outcome is given below.


II. Workshop Proceedings

Session:   Workshop Inauguration  

Mr. Robert Juhkam, Deputy Country Director, UNDP, welcomed participants and updated on the progress of the humanitarian coordination reform in Bangladesh, including the LCG-DER, a key national forum that brings together the Government, NGOs, donors and the UN Agencies. He also re-affirmed UNDP’s leadership and commitment to leading and advocating Early Recovery in Bangladesh.  

Mr. MA Wazed, Director General, Department of Disaster Management, provided an overview of the recently approved 2012 Disaster Management Act. He stated that the DM Act places equal emphasis on DRR and emergency response management with greater emphasis on equitable and sustainable development; and that the coordinated early recovery efforts of all the stakeholders (both State and non-State) was extremely important. Mr. MA Wazed inaugurated the workshop by congratulating the Early Recovery Cluster for organizing such a learning event after almost one year of launching of the humanitarian coordination structure in Bangladesh.  





Mr. Robert Juhkam, Deputy Country Director, UNDP Bangladesh, and Mr. Mohammad Abdul Wazed, Director General, Department of Disaster Management Inaugurate Early Recovery Workshop

Following the opening remarks from the Chair (Mr. MA Wazed) and Co-Chair (Mr. Robert Juhkam), the workshop began with rest of the proceedings with self-introduction by the participants.

Session: Panel Presentations on Early Recovery Lessons Learned

Three presentations were delivered on lessons learned – from the Government presented by the Department of Disaster Management; international humanitarian organizations representing national and international NGOs and Red Cross/Red Crescent organizations; and the UN Agencies.

Key lessons included:

  • SOS Form and D-Form are the main Government tools for assessment of loss and damage following disasters. Department of Disaster Management is the custodian of the SOS-Form and D-Form data;
  • Substantial resources for relief are allocated annually by the Government (for detail information please refer to the attached presentation from the Government)
  • Both initiation as well as duration of recovery programmes varied based on the type of disaster and its impact (eg. after cyclone Aila the recovery programme was delayed and duration prolonged up to 40 months)
  • Early recovery intervention strategy are mainly comprised of : CFW, CFT, livelihood support, unconditional cash grant, water and sanitation, shelter, and micro-credit
  • For NGOs - consortium approach in project implementation adopted after cyclone Aila helped avoid duplication of efforts and standardized interventions. 
  • International assistance available for recovery support inadequate in most cases; recovery support covered only 7-10% of the total requirement; broader strategy and partnerships to be sought in the recovery planning
  • Capacity of local and international organizations limited in terms of early recovery concept, expertise and knowledge
  • Risk reduction measures in both humanitarian assistance and development interventions should take climate change adaptation into consideration
  • In-depth understanding of HH and local economy is paramount for livelihood recovery and development program design to be effective
  • Impact of recovery interventions was greater where:
    • Support matched with HH’s economic need
    • IGA matches with local condition
    • HH ability to cover expenses of IGA
    • Synergy between humanitarian assistances
  • Differential vulnerability caused by inequality should be systematically included in the needs assessment, planning and recovery implementation
  • Out-migration a common coping mechanism for those who have lost land and livelihood 

Session: Understanding Early Recovery

Presentation was made on cluster system and Early Recovery cluster; aims and principles of Early Recovery. Main messages are summarized below:





Holistic Approach in Early Recovery

  • Recovery must be holistic – enabling Household to recover; creating enabling environment such as Local Economy and Infrastructure; and, Governance to facilitate early recovery (please refer diagram above)
  • Early recovery is not a separate phase in the relief-development continuum, but an effort to strengthen linkages. The sooner work on recovery begins, the sooner the affected areas are stabilized, and the shorter and more effective the recovery process is likely to be.
  • It is “early” because the need to look beyond relief is immediate; it is “recovery” because its minimum objective is to try, and ensure that people are less vulnerable than they were before the crisis.
  • Key principles of early recovery:
    • Promote national ownership
    • Pursue community-centered approach
    • Include risk reduction and build back better
    • Ensure integration of cross cutting issues
    • Promote gender equality
    • Establish convergence with other development programmes
    • Set standards for transparency and accountability

Session: Reconciling local practice and global concept of Early Recovery

Different stakeholders interpret early recovery differently and after almost one year of establishment of the reformed humanitarian coordination architecture in Bangladesh,





Group work & discussion

it was felt necessary to reconcile local practices with global concept and define what early recovery means for Bangladesh. This clarity was achieved through group discussion followed by plenary presentation on four important thematic area: i) Early Recovery timeline, processes, and tools; ii) Subject area/mandate of Early Recovery cluster; iii) Key actors in Early Recovery; and iv) Resources and capacity. Outcome from the group discussion is given below.

Theme 1:  What are the Early Recovery Timeline, Processes, and Tools?


  • Experiences showed that early recovery starts immediately after the crisis is stabilized and life-saving needs are met. 
  • The timeline varies considering disaster context and scale as well as on geographical location of the disaster.  Declaration or non-declaration of “emergency” influenced greatly resource mobilization and timeline for launch of early recovery programmes.
  • With the establishment of the humanitarian structure, early this year, the trigger mechanism for launching relief and recovery could be streamlined.


  • Early recovery is triggered by sudden events or slow onset adverse developments towards crisis;
  • Early recovery interventions are initiated through the national early recovery frame-work and its coordination mechanisms, in Bangladesh the LCG and the HCCT, mandated through DER group;
  • The recently enacted Disaster Management Act further articulates initiation of early recovery, and the role of District authorities;
  • Usually, early recovery starts with Needs Assessment, including government and other national and international humanitarian actors;
  • Early recovery procedure comprise of: coordination among relevant stakeholders; early recovery needs assessment; strategic framework development; and Early Recovery planning and implementation;
  • Apart from needs assessment, secondary sources, such as data from meteorological office, FFWC (Flood Forecasting and Warning Centre), BBS (Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics), existing CRA (Community Risk Assessment) reports, SOS / D-Form and media represent important sources of relevant information.


  • Government SOS Form and D-Form are the main source of quantitative data on loss and damage; however, these tools need to be used and completed  accurately; Officials who complete the SOS and D-Form have to be trained adequately;
  • LCG-DER has approved use of Joint Needs Assessment for Phase I and Phase II. These have to be adhered to by all stakeholders.
  • Union Factsheet and the Community Risk Assessment (CRA) developed by CDMP can serve as a useful source of baseline information
  • IASC guidelines and assessment formats
  • Capacity mapping for early recovery should be updated on a regular basis
  • Other useful tools are:  i) UNDP Policy on Early Recovery (2008); ii) Joint Lessons Learned and Good Practice Toolkit: Transitioning humanitarian coordination mechanisms to support longer term recovery and development (UNDP, OCHA, DOCO, 2012)

Theme 2: Subject Area/Mandate of Early Recovery cluster

Based on the past early recovery experiences and lessons, the participants identified the following subject area as mandate of the Early Recovery Cluster in Bangladesh:

  1. Livelihoods & Economic Recovery:  Rapid resumption of livelihoods is essential for disaster affected families to get back to their normal life. Emergency employment through cash for work; cash and in-kind programmes;  to generate income sources are tested interventions in Bangladesh.
  2. Community Infrastructure Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation of community infrastructure to improve access to basic services as well as revitalize the local economy following disaster event.
  3. Local Governance Support: Support to local authorities for relief and recovery planning, coordination, and implementation. This point was strongly emphasized by the Government representatives that coordination of emergency response and recovery interventions is essential not only for avoiding duplication of resources but also to ensure accountability towards the planned results.
  4. Advocacy for ‘durable solutions’ and longer-term recovery: This was identified as a major gap within the disaster response domain in Bangladesh (some cases discussed included - prolonged water logging situation in the south-west region; long-term impact of Aila, etc. ).  Early Recovery cluster should advocate for durable solutions and longer-term recovery by engaging key development actors/institutions for holistic support to recovery.

Theme 3: Who are the key actors of Early Recovery?


  • As ER is a national concern, the government, represented by the respective line ministries are the main actors in ER;
  • Government efforts are complemented by the UN Agencies and other humanitarian actors;
  • In Bangladesh, the LCG-DER, HCTT, and the Early Recovery cluster are the coordinating bodies for early recovery
  • The Early Recovery cluster consists of members from agencies/organizations whose mandates and services are pertinent to recovery tasks. This includes UN Agencies, Government agencies, international organizations, Red Cross/Red Crescent organizations, national and international NGOs and donors.
  • The Early Recovery Network is composed of focal points from each of the clusters.

Specific roles:

National government / line ministries:

  • Policy framework, legal setup, rules, regulations and procedures to enact and implement ER,
  • Relief interventions at national level, in respect of impartiality
  • Collation, analysis and dissemination of relevant information

District Administration:

  • Enforcement of national policies, legal framework, rules, regulations,
  • Coordinated relief delivery at district level, in respect of impartiality
  • Collate, systemize and share relevant information,

Upazila/union/village level:

  • Form and support local livelihood groups
  • Initiate and support community efforts for early recovery and restoration of livelihoods
  • Coordinated relief delivery at local level, in respect of impartiality
  • Collate, systemize and share relevant information

UN Agencies:

  • Support and complement national and local government in ER planning, coordination and delivery,
  • Complement relief efforts of national government and administration,
  • In cooperation with government, ensure linkage between ER and national development programmes

Humanitarian actors:

  • Complement relief efforts of national government and administration on all levels,
  • Promote early recovery and development within the organizations specific mandate, on all levels.


  • Initiate spontaneous community based recovery efforts,
  • Supported by national administration, agencies and humanitarian actors, develop local coping schemes to strengthen community resilience and to foster development guided by initiatives of affected populations

UNDP as lead agency for the Early Recovery cluster is responsible for:

  • Early initiation of recovery planning and key programming to minimize the gap between relief and longer-term recovery,
  • To facilitate a smooth transition from early rescue and relief to longer term sustainable recovery and reconstruction and reduce vulnerabilities of the affected communities, and
  • To act as provider of last resort to meet agreed priority needs.

Theme 4: Resources and capacity

  • Early Recovery cluster to develop and maintain updated information on available and required resources, capacity and competencies, as "contingency planning" in view of possible events; relevant information to be collated in view of capacity planning and pre-positioning.
  • ER Network to interact on both technical and non-technical levels, through assigned focal persons from each cluster (ToR needed). Special importance to be given to interact with government entities through focal persons / focal departments.
  • Ensure continuous and precise orientation on Early Recovery concept across the clusters, with and within government entities
  • Develop standard curriculum package for Early Recovery orientation and capacity building of stakeholders
  • Ensure continuous exchange of knowledge and information among the ER actors, e.g. through clusters, HCTT, LCG-DER


Concluding Session and Remarks from the UN Resident Coordinator

A synthesis of the workshop deliberation was made by the facilitator, Mr. Khurshid Alam. Mr. Neal Walker, UN Resident Coordinator, in his closing remarks urged workshop participants to direct efforts to develop a guideline for ER based on inputs emerging from the workshop discussion as well as the lessons documented and presented during the workshop.





He called upon UN agencies, donor community, INGOs/NGOs to and other humanitarian actors to work together with the Government for early recovery of affected communities following disaster.  Early Recovery as a “principle” should form an integral part of all the clusters.


III. Outcome of the Workshop – Indigenizing Early Recovery in Bangladesh

The workshop was able to promote shared understanding among the stakeholders the concept of Early Recovery in the context of Bangladesh. This was done by reconciling the global approach and practical local experiences from Bangladesh.  The two key questions the workshop participants sought to answer were:

Early Recovery – WHAT IS IT?

Early Recovery – HOW TO PERSUE?

The workshop participants confirmed that the objectives of EARLY RECOVERY are different from humanitarian activities. Its objectives are to augment ongoing emergency assistance operations; support spontaneous recovery initiatives by affected communities; and establish the foundations for longer-term recovery. 

Early Recovery should adopt the following measures to fully realize these objectives: 

  1. as an “approach” or “principle” inherent in the mandate of every cluster. This is to be pursued through the Early Recovery Network under the auspices of the UN RC Office; and,
  2. as a set of recovery-related specific sectors/activities that are important, cannot wait, and are foundational in nature, and cannot be accommodated in the existing cluster’s portfolios. These set of recovery-related specific sectors/activities were identified as: a) livelihoods and economic recovery; b) community infrastructure; c) local governance support; d) advocacy for ‘durable solutions’ and longer-term recovery. This is to be pursued by the Early Recovery Cluster.

Other recommendations from the workshop included:

  • Key action points that emerged from each of the thematic discussions (please refer above: session - Reconciling practice & concept of Early Recovery in Bangladesh)  to be taken forward by the Early Recovery Cluster in the first quarter of 2013. This will lead towards developing a set of guidelines for early recovery in Bangladesh.
  • Cross-cutting issues such as gender, protection, disability, environment, disaster risk reduction/climate change adaptation etc. to be integrated across all the Clusters.
  • ,TOR of the Early Recovery Cluster to be revisited in the light of the workshop recommendations.


Annex A: Workshop Objectives, Facilitator and Agenda

Workshop Objectives

  • To enhance understanding among stakeholders the concept of Early Recovery; and,
  • Share lessons learned from the past early recovery interventions which will feed into formulation of the Early Recovery Guidelines for Bangladesh


Mr. Khurshid Alam, Disaster and Climate Change Specialist, Think Ahead Ltd.

Workshop Agenda and Schedule









Operation(s)/ Webspace(s): 
United Nations Development Programme
Global Cluster(s): 
Early Recovery
Original Publication Date: 
13 Dec 2013
Document type: 
Workshop Report
Early Recovery