What is the purpose of sub-national cluster coordination?

Sub-national coordination occurs when national coordination is decentralized and clusters/sectors are established in zones of special operational importance. Structures may be established at more than one administrative level if required (in both provinces and districts, for example, as in Pakistan), though it remains a firm underlying principle that the number of coordination structures should be minimized. Sub-national coordination is critical when responses take place in remote areas (such as parts of Sudan) or extend over a large territory (as in DRC).[1]

Humanitarian operations that employ national and sub-national clusters have been found to be more effective than ones that coordinate through a single national cluster. Though sub-national coordination structures may vary across regions, they should facilitate decentralized decision-making and shorten response time. They are also in a better position to

  • Adapt standards to local circumstances.
  • Work closely with local authorities and international, national and local NGOs.
  • Implement the strategic plan, and cross-cutting and multidimensional issues.
  • Strengthen accountability to affected people.

Assessment and strategic planning start at sub-national level. Different regions may have different needs and therefore different strategic objectives and prioritization.[2]

[1] Reference Module for Cluster Coordination at Country Level, page 13.

[2] IBID


What is inter-cluster coordination?

Inter-cluster coordination is a cooperative effort among sectors/clusters and the HCT to assure coherence in achieving common objectives, avoiding duplication and ensuring areas of need are prioritized.  Inter-cluster coordination takes places at the national and sub-national level to coordinate the implementation of the response through each step of the humanitarian program cycle.[1]

Guided by the HCT, inter-cluster coordination provides a platform for clusters to work together to advance the objective of delivering assistance to affected people effectively and efficiently. It does this by encouraging synergies between sectors, ensuring roles and responsibilities are clearly defined, closing potential gaps and eliminating duplication.  Inter-cluster coordination may also take the form of small groupings of related clusters meeting to address a particular challenge (e.g. a cholera outbreak). Inter-cluster coordination plays a central role in facilitating the development of the Strategic Response Plan (SRP) and assures a coherent and coordinated approach to planning and operationalizing the shared strategic objectives as set out in the SRP.[2]

The RC/HC and HCT, supported by OCHA, determine the shape and functions of inter-cluster coordination during a crisis.

[1] Please see the Reference Module for Cluster Coordination at Country Level page 17.

[2] The strategic objective itself and the humanitarian context will determine which sectors are needed for its achievement.  Some strategic objectives may require contributions from all clusters and others a more limited group and should be determined through inter-cluster discussions with all clusters.  Smaller groups of clusters, potentially supported by members of the HCT, may come together to discuss specific strategies for and periodically for monitoring of their achievement, although all clusters and the HCT need to be aware of progress and challenges to ensure the appropriate overall linkages as necessary