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.

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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 an HCT and a UNCT?

The UNCT comprises all heads of UN agencies and IOM, whereas the HCT includes only relevant heads of UN agencies as well as non-UN humanitarian actors. The HCT addresses strategic issues of the wider humanitarian community whereas the UNCT focuses on UN concerns. The HCT and the UNCT coexist and do not replace each other.

The Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) is a strategic and operational decision-making and oversight body established and led by the HC to lead and coordinate international humanitarian assistance in support of existing national efforts. It is not an inclusive forum but rather includes only operationally relevant agencies, be they UN agencies, funds and programmes, IOM, international and national NGOs, and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Movement. Some HCTs include donors. Agencies that are designated Cluster leads represent both their Cluster and their organization in the HCT.

In the absence of a designated HC, and in case of a humanitarian emergency, the RC is responsible for setting up and regularly convening a HCT, inclusive of all operationally relevant actors, including non-UN organizations.

The UN Country Team (UNCT) is led by the Resident Coordinator and is the principal coordination and decision-making body of UN agencies. The main purpose of the UN Country Team is for individual UN agencies to plan and work together to ensure the delivery of tangible results in support of the development agenda. In countries where there is no on-going humanitarian emergency, the UNCT, under the leadership of the RC, is responsible for preparedness and contingency planning by UN agencies at country level.

In a humanitarian crisis the HCT is the lead strategic and operational decision making body, in close collaboration and consultation with the host government. In the event that a crisis occurs in a country without an HCT then one will be formed. Until it is formed the UNCT will coordinate with the host government.

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.