Objective 1.4

Analysis and System-Wide learning

  • A global network of policy and research partners established to support OCHA’s identification of humanitarian trends and research gaps.
  • Country strategies sharpened to include improved analysis of OCHA’s presence and humanitarian response capacity.
  • Data component of the project cycle strengthened through a clear analysis of data requirements. This included completing a data audit, drafting and agreeing a concept for a common cluster data repository, and drafting a common request form for cluster information

In 2009, OCHA recognized that it needed a better quality of analysis at country, regional and global levels. Its coordination and advocacy depend heavily on being able to analyse different situations, study trends and learn from experience. This is particularly important for the ERC, whose ability to influence Member States, regional organizations, and current and potential partners requires a sound overview of current trends and likely future developments.

Over the past two years, OCHA has aimed for systemwide learning. Following a survey of country offices, a partner policy conference in December 2011 identified several priorities for OCHA’s future work. These included developing a flagship publication that will improve information management and lead to better-informed decision-making and more relevant policymaking. To support this, OCHA created its first Policy Working Group: a standing partnership with academia and think-tanks to provide high-quality analysis and deliver policy uptake from this analysis.

In 2010, PDSB produced a report titled “Stay and Deliver”, as well as policy briefs on water scarcity and energy. The report has made a considerable impact on the humanitarian system, generating an ongoing debate among cluster leads and humanitarian partners on how to best adapt and adopt its menu of good practices to support operations in hostile environments. The report’s combination of practical recommendations and key advocacy arguments has been incorporated into future workplans.

To address concerns over short- and long-term food-security problems, OCHA began issuing monthly global food-security updates and conducted an analysis of the vulnerability of different countries to international food-price rises. It also developed an Occasional Paper on OCHA’s response to slow-onset emergencies. The humanitarian community is using this as part of its efforts to deal with the current crisis in the Sahel.

The importance of information management to effective decision-making will continue to be viewed as essential. It is now embedded in the IASC’s Transformative Agenda and in OCHA’s collaboration with the broader humanitarian policy community. OCHA is strengthening its information architecture, particularly through the Common Cluster Data Initiative and the project to develop a Humanitarian eXchange Language (HXL), which will facilitate the movement of information between clusters.

In 2011, OCHA reviewed its data-collection procedures and how available data can be used to improve analysis. With support from the Economist Intelligence Unit, a data audit was conducted. It noted that OCHA offices often collect data in an unstructured and ad hoc way, minimizing its accessibility and impact. To start improving this process, OCHA began developing a common request form to use with cluster partners. It will be the basis for developing a common cluster data system in 2012. Although much of the work in 2011 has been investigative and conceptual, it should have highly practical implications, improving data-collection methods and analysis. A pilot of the new request form and the related data system will be carried out in 2012 in a number of country offices, with a view to extending it to all offices in 2013.

Supported by the Inter-Agency Steering Group, OCHA used Inter-Agency Real Time Evaluations (IARTEs) in Pakistan, the Philippines, Kenya and Haiti in 2010 and 2011. The IARTEs proved critical. In terms of work on the ground, they provided rapid feedback on coordination and operational challenges and helped the humanitarian community take corrective action. At the global level, particularly for Pakistan and Haiti, IARTEs informed policy and fed into the IASC’s Transformative Agenda of establishing streamlined coordination systems and making clusters more effective.

The Horn of Africa IARTEs in 2011 and 2012 found that inter-sector coordination systems were adapted to the national contexts and worked well. This could suggest that key lessons from the Pakistan and Haiti IARTEs were applied. The IASC Transformative Agenda endorsed IARTEs as being central to its attempts to inform emergency responses, but has also recommended that evaluations need to be more timely and more tightly focused if they are to be fully effective.

While some progress has been made in systemwide learning, capacity remains a major constraint. To complete the transformation demanded by partner countries and required by the IASC, OCHA must increase its investments in information management, analysis and strong policy planning. OCHA will focus on these priorities during the second half of its Strategic Framework 2010-13.

Performance Framework 2011
OUTPUT OCHA country office strategies underpinned by analysis.

All country and regional office strategies reviewed.


For the first year of country strategies, the process generated considerable engagement and reflection at HQ and field levels. The resulting CS documents are imperfect, but represent a shift towards a more analytic and systematic engagement with issues.

OUTPUT Concept for centralized data repository defined and agreed.

Data audit completed; data requirements defined; analysis priorities defined; data partnerships explored; SMT agreement on concept and plan by Q4.


Data audit and related field surveys have been completed and published. A joint ACE/ISS reporting project to integrate information collection and storage is ongoing. The analytical priorities for situation and regular reporting defined. The ISS project to generate a Humanitarian Extensible Mark-Up Language is well underway. OCHA has begun formal engagement with IATI on how to publish and use data transparently.

OUTPUT Enhanced understanding of appropriate response to acute vulnerability induced by global challenges.

Study to review lessons learned and best practices of current humanitarian response to acute vulnerability conducted and communicated by Q4.


Contracting for study was delayed and only completed in December 2011. The output has been postponed to 2012.

OUTPUT Global network established to identify humanitarian trends and research gaps.

Survey on priority trends by Q2.

Humanitarian trends and gap analysis report completed by Q4.


A staff survey on priority trends was undertaken to gauge internal policy priorities. The findings were complemented by consultation with OCHA’s regional offices.

First OCHA policy conference held in December 2011; follow-up regional meetings already in pipeline for Asia-Pacific and the Middle East. The first OCHA Policy Working Group, representing partnership between OCHA and academia/think-tanks, has been created on information management issues.

OUTPUT Improved monitoring, analysis and reporting informs decision-making on measures to address the protection of civilians (PoC) in armed conflict, including by the Security Council.

Established indicators for monitoring and reporting on risks facing civilian populations and on the impact of humanitarian action to reduce these risks.


The indicators were developed in consultation with UN agencies and NGOs. They will be annexed to the UN Secretary-General’s report on PoC of May 2012.