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15 Feb, 2016
Recently, ADHOC-CC participated in a unique initiative organised by UNICEF in Geneva.  The consultation drew the participation of over 100 representatives from UNICEF field offices, head-quarters in New York, and international and national NGOs from across the globe to discuss the ways in which already existing partnerships could be enhanced in order to realize children’s rights in emergencies. It was the first UNICEF consultation with NGOs that focused on this critical topic.

Featured Project
Face-ts presents the more complex reality of life as a refugee, through a series of portraits and inspiring stories from refugees

African NGOs Speak Their Voice at UNHCR’s Annual Meeting
ADHOC CONTRACT COMMITTEE recently attended the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees' 58th Executive Committee in Geneva, where it presented a well-received brief representing the thoughts of many African NGOs working with the UN agency.

ADHOC-CC supports the strengthening of southern capacity in the IASC Global Health Cluster

27 Nov, 2015
On Wednesday 14th November 2015, President and CEO of ADHOC CONTRACT COMMITTEE, shared his thoughts on the subject of the ‘engagement of southern partners in the cluster approach’, with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC), Global Health Cluster.
Good Morning,

When I agreed to come to this meeting last week, I was unaware that I was expected to give a statement on such an important agenda item. Thus I will be brief, but that is not in any way to undermine the importance of the critical issue of; ‘Engagement of southern partners in the cluster approach’.

That the topic is included at all, suggests that there is some sort of a problem.

Just look around this gathering and you will see that there are not many southern participants. Apart from the UN system and donor agencies, the largest presence is from northern institutions and northern NGOs. Does this not strike you as strange, considering that the majority of humanitarian action takes place in the south?

ADHOC CONTRACT COMMITTEE (ADHOC-CC), has over recent years, repeatedly rallied on the issue of African NGO involvement in humanitarian action; their plight, the limitations they operate under, the opportunities that exist and the great need to ‘build their capacity’ (for lack of a better term), in order to best serve the affected populations whom we seek to assist. Further information on this is available on our website, www.africahumanitarian.org, and so I will not dwell on it here.

On the topic of southern partners in the Cluster Leadership Approach, I will limit myself to discussing just four pertinent issues, after which I welcome your questions and discussion.

The first issue to consider is the extent to which the cluster approach includes and accepts southern partners (governmental and humanitarian actors), in order to ensure that they become at least part owners of the process.

The idea is to better coordinate and streamline humanitarian response, to eradicate the too often competing forces of the UN and donor agencies, in order to respond better to emergencies. As humanitarian actors have finally come together to address the situation, it is only appropriate that southern counterparts be included in the process as equal partners and for it to be acceptable that they become so. Such action is a necessity and will prevent this approach being yet another lip-service to the process. If not then it will be bound to fail, as we have seen for example with the United Nations Disaster Relief Organisation in the sixties and seventies and with the UN Department for Humanitarian Affairs in the eighties.

Maybe we are experiencing similar hurdles with the cluster approach, as I do not see major international emergency health actors such as MSF and ICRC here with us today. Similarly nor are southern actors adequately represented; despite the fact that we are here and now deliberating the lives of their immediate populations.

Therefore the issues of inclusiveness and acceptability are key. If the global cluster is to have any relevance at all, it has to include and deliberate with actors both on a global and on a country level; with the added value of creating political awareness, advocacy and acceptability at regional and country levels.

As we learnt from the informative presentations given yesterday, governments, even the weak ones, rightly and legitimately feel that it is their duty and prerogative to coordinate and manage such processes. However, those with the resources may think otherwise and therein lays the problem of acceptability. This has also been our experience with the Humanitarian Relief Coordination approach by Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

Is the cluster approach another imposition? Yet another layer on an over burdened southern bureaucracy? This will have to be explained clearly.

In fact, at this stage it would not be an exaggeration to state that not much is known and understood of the cluster leadership approach in the south. There are not many in southern governments, civil society and NGO community who have even heard of the cluster approach. Further, little is known by state actors and much less by local NGOs. Therefore there lays ahead a major task; to educate and orient Southern partners on the cluster approach, in order to make steps towards its acceptability. This is imperative as the Cluster Approach is here to stay - as part of the UN humanitarian reforms. Thus, let us demystify it and build up trust for a cluster process which is acceptable to and manageable by local actors.

This brings me to the second issue, that of affording opportunity by way of sharing knowledge and capacity with southern partners. Again a lot has been written on this. If the cluster approach is to make advances, southern partners have to be given appropriate and tailor-made tools to enable it to happen. The opportunity to participate is just not enough and southern actors also need to be given the necessary authority and the corresponding resources.

The third issue is that of accountability. The cluster comprises a diverse collective, so where does accountability fall?

• With international institutions?
• With donors?
• With international NGOs?
• With southern NGOs?
• With southern governments? Often disabled & dysfunctional in complex emergencies.

There is but one appropriate response; ALL parties have to buy into collective accountability, coming together to act in unison. I am certain that there is no room for a weak link in this process and thus we return to the necessity of building southern capacity.

Fourth and finally a quick reality check. For all of the sophisticated modules, tools and products that we keep churning out – what will really count in making a difference to improve the delivery and sustainability of humanitarian aid is increasing southern capacity, taking a realistic approach to aid and ensuring essential local participation. Not, as we heard yesterday, IT tools which are supposed to be used in areas that lack reliable power, internet connection and/or even adequate materials.

In a final analysis; we have to ensure that our efforts bring added value – after all what counts the most is that people survive and remain alive and well.