As the Humanitarian Reform process evolves, there is much debate and uncertainty about the role of a cluster lead agency. There is an emerging consensus that being a cluster lead does not mean being ‘the cluster provider’ but, instead, means coordinating support and working with various stakeholders to improve humanitarian response for displaced people. However, in the case of the CCCM cluster, there is an emerging trend expecting UNHCR to be more than a coordinator. In several conflict situations it is uncertain where funding for the management of camps is to come from. If NGO partners and host governments continue to be unable to access funding, there are serious doubts about the sustainability of the cluster’s partnership approach.
The main focus of the CCCM cluster is improvement of the lives of IDPs living in camps. Since its inception the cluster has identified three distinct but related areas of camp response – camp administration, camp coordination and camp management. The three components are complementary but require three different actors: camp administrator (the national government), camp coordinator (the lead agency) and camp manager (an NGO). These three actors form a triangular CCCM partnership. None of the three components can stand on its own without the other two.
National governments are responsible for ensuring systems are in place for designation of camps or sites to host IDPs, oversight and supervision of all relief efforts, provision of security, registration and issue of civil documentation to camp residents on an equal basis as other non-displaced national citizens, and clarification of land tenure issues for the designated sites. In discharging its responsibilities, the government is expected to designate a camp administrator for each camp to take charge of these functions and create the necessary interface and linkage with the other CCCM actors.
UNHCR is lead agency for camp coordination in conflict-induced displacement, IOM in displacement resulting from natural disasters. Other agencies may be designated as a lead for a particular operation – such as in Darfur where OCHA has played the role of cluster lead/camp coordinator since 2004. In its camp coordination role, the lead agency is responsible for all camps in which IDPs are hosted. Its main functions are to support the authorities, ensure humanitarian space is kept open and international standards observed, designate camp management organisations for each camp, set up information management systems and work with partners to collate and share information on humanitarian services and gaps in camps.
In a few cases, organised groups of camp residents have assumed the role of camp management. Much more commonly, however, this function is carried out by NGOs. It is important to have a single designated entity to act as the focal point within a camp and to ensure that all humanitarian activities are based on IDP participation, coordination and consistent information sharing on protection and assistance needs, provision and gaps.
CCCM partnership in practice
Although as a new sector the CCCM is yet to be fully understood by all practitioners, there is increasing awareness that it is contributing to better coordination. It has added momentum to initiatives to build capacity of field practitioners and broaden awareness of the new sector and its role in improving the humanitarian situation in IDP camps.
There is greater evidence of collaboration between the lead agency and NGOs than there is between them and local government authorities. While partnerships at field level vary from one operation to another, coordination by a lead agency and management by NGOs shows more consistency while administration by local authorities has tended to be more ad hoc.
Responsibility for mobilising resources for CCCM activities is more and more falling on UNHCR. In the cluster roll-out in Uganda and Liberia, UNHCR assumed the lead role for camp coordination and devoted resources to this function but the international NGO partners on the ground lacked the necessary resources for camp management activities. In eastern Chad, UNHCR has recently funded two international NGOs to implement camp management in IDP camps. CCCM implementation crucially hinges on the ability of NGOs to mobilise additional funding:
- Donors must ensure that resources available for CCCM are disbursed on an equal basis to the cluster lead as well as NGO partners.
- NGOs involved in camp management need to reach out to new funding sources.
- UNHCR and its co-cluster lead, IOM, need to urge donors to provide timely funding for NGO partners.
Jane Wanjiru Muigai (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Senior Policy Officer in the Division of Operational Services at UNHCR HQ charged with support of the global CCCM cluster. For more information, see: http://ocha.unog.ch/humanitarianreform/Default.aspx?tabid=78