What are Cluster Lead Agencies (CLAs) and Cluster Coordinators responsible for?

The chief responsibility of CLAs and Cluster Coordinators is to provide a forum to discuss and coordinate humanitarian action that meets the affected people’s needs and supports other levels of the strategic response.


What does ‘Provider of Last Resort’ mean?

In addition to the six core functions of the cluster the designated Cluster Lead Agency is the Provider of Last Resort (POLR). This means that, where necessary and depending on access, security and availability of funding, the cluster lead, as POLR, must be ready to ensure the provision of services required to fulfil crucial gaps identified by the cluster and reflected in the Humanitarian Response Plan.

What is the difference between Strategic Response Plans and cluster response plans?

The Strategic Response Plan (SRP) contains a country strategy which defines the priorities, strategic objectives and bounds of the response. The country strategy is further elaborated on and to some degree operationalized by the accompanying cluster response plans which directly relate to the strategic objectives of the response. For more information and guidance on how to develop the SRP inclusive of country strategy and cluster response plans please see the Strategic Response Plan guidance.

Are there still clusters in a refugee response?

In a refugee response the lead coordination agency is UNHCR. UNHCR, in consultation with partners, will determine the need for and scope of sectorial coordination.

Sectors are intended to connect to government-led, area-based development mechanisms where possible, and to come together at operational coordination meetings. The number of sectors should be as few as possible and should seek a solutions and self-reliance orientation from inception. There may be different configurations at capital and field levels depending upon the context.

Although the specific context/situation will determine which sectors are established, provision should be made for: Education; WASH; Health/Nutrition; Shelter/NFIs; Food/Food Security and Livelihoods/Self Reliance.  The Refugee Protection Working Group will be established in all situations, led by UNHCR, or co-led with the relevant host government entity, where feasible. The sectors and Refugee Protection Working Group are brought together in a multi-sector approach by the UNHCR Refugee Coordinator, supported by the multi-sector operations team. Regular meetings will be held to ensure that the multi-sector approach is coordinated and delivered smoothly.

Sectors may be coordinated by government ministries when feasible. If the ministry is not the coordinator, UNHCR and partners will coordinate or co-coordinate the sector based on established criteria. Coordination will be decentralized and based in the specific geographic areas where refugees or other persons of concern are residing.

How is it determined if the government is part of the cluster?

The government is the primary responder. They may not, however, have the capacity or human resources to coordinate the broader humanitarian community in-country. Typically the government is part of the cluster either as a partner or part of the leadership.

There are instances where the government is a party to the conflict and/or a combatant. In these circumstances the best mechanism to ensure effective government engagement will need to be considered.

Who can you talk to if a cluster is not working?

Start with the NGO coordinating body; see if there are common concerns shared by others. If you feel that you cannot communicate concerns with the Cluster Coordinator directly then reach out to the Cluster Lead Agency (CLA) Representative. If unsuccessful or if it would not be advantageous to reach out to the CLA Representative then raise concerns with OCHA. If these avenues fail then consider approaching the HC about it directly as well as one of the global NGO consortia, ICVA, InterAction and SCHR who can reach out to the global cluster coordinators.