Frequently Asked Questions
‘Sector’ refers to a discrete technical area of humanitarian action. The implementation of the Cluster approach seeks to formalise the accountabilities and responsibilities of a lead agency for a technical sector. At the country level, the Representative of the Cluster lead agency is accountable to the Humanitarian Coordinator. This accountability is the primary difference between a sector and a cluster. In countries where the Government has the responsibility for coordination, we often refer to sector leads rather than cluster leads.
The HC, in consultation with the HCT, will determine the appropriate coordination structure, that should support national structures where possible. The determination of the cluster lead agency at the country level will depend upon operational relevance, capacity, and willingness of that agency to assume cluster lead tasks. The decision of the HC and HCT should be discussed with Global Cluster Leads and a proposed structure sent to the ERC and IASC for endorsement.
At the global level, cluster leads are responsible for: a) up-to-date assessments of the overall needs for human, financial, and institutional capacity; b) reviews of currently available capacities and means for their utilization; c) links with other clusters, including preparedness measures and long-term planning, standards, best practice, advocacy, and resource mobilization; d) taking action to ensure that required capacities and mechanisms exist, including rosters for surge capacity; and e) training and system development at the local, national, regional, and international levels. Cluster leads at the country level are responsible for: a) predictable action within the cluster for analysis of needs, addressing priorities, and identifying gaps in the cluster area; b) securing and following-up on commitments from the cluster to contribute to responding to needs and filling the gaps; c) ensure that activities within a cluster are
carried out and act as the provider of last resort; d) sustaining mechanisms through which the cluster as a whole assesses its performance. At all levels, cluster leads have mutual obligations to interact with each other, and are accountable to the Emergency Relief Coordinator globally and to Humanitarian Coordinators at the country level.
Within a few days of the disasterthe RC/HC, based on the advice of the HCT should recommend a country-specific decision applying the following criteria:
(a) Trigger event in the form of a new large-scale emergency or sharp deteriorationin an existing humanitarian situation.
(b) Evaluation of national response and coordination capacity to appropriately meet needs.
(c) Where humanitarian needs justify a multi-sectoral approach that the existing coordination and response mechanisms can no longer adequately address.
(d) The size of the operational presence (the number of actors and complexity of response) requires a sector- specific coordination mechanism if this does not already exist.
Towards the end of the emergency phase, the RC/HC will work with the HCT (and, to the extent possible, the host government) to advise on how best to adapt the Cluster approach; whether each Cluster is to continue, be de-activated, or handed over to a government-led sector group, as appropriate.