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De-centralizing clusters

Sub-national coordination means de-centralizing coordination from the national level by establishing sub-clusters/sectors in zones of particular operational importance. National level coordination mechanisms (the HCT, inter-cluster coordination fora and clusters) should be careful to ensure that resources - including resources for coordination - are directed towards the areas and people most affected by the emergency and that strategic and operational.

What should be put in place is dependent upon the specific country or disaster context.

  • As with national-level clusters, sub-national clusters should only be established on the basis of operational needs and should be de-activated as soon as those needs are met or there is local capacity to coordinate the response in that area.
  • Sub-national structures should fulfill the same core functions as national clusters, while being streamlined and tailored to the local operational realities.  They do not have to have the same lead/membership as at national level and depend on the country context.
  • Within the limits of available resources and operational context, sub-national clusters should have dedicated or part-time Cluster Coordinators. Sub-national clusters offer ideal opportunities for UN agencies, international and national NGOs as well as national authorities to share cluster leadership; coordination leadership arrangements do not need to mirror those at the national level.
  • One particular advantage sub-national clusters often have over national clusters is that they are better placed to maintain close cooperation with national and local NGOs and authorities.  They also have greater opportunities to ensure community involvement and participation, and to put mechanisms in place to enhance accountability to affected populations.

The national level clusters should provide support and strategic direction to sub-national clusters, with sub-national clusters informing the formulation of that strategy.  The working methods of sub-national clusters must be light and focused on service delivery and operational activities and promote the involvement of the affected populations in cluster activities to ensure that humanitarian actors respond adequately to their actual needs.

Sub-national coordination is particularly crucial where the response take places in remote areas (e.g. in Sudan) or over a large amount of territory (e.g. in the DRC).  Sub-national clusters and inter-cluster fora may be established at more than one administrative level if required (e.g. provinces and districts in Pakistan), although the underlying principle of minimizing structures remains firmly in place.