As part of the Transformative Agenda (ITA), and as chair of the Programme Cycle Steering Group, OCHA played a key role in establishing inter-agency agreements on elements of the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC) and developing the associated guidance. Detailed guidance on each element is expected to be completed in early 2013. OCHA initiated the development of an HPC training package to support the field-level implementation of this guidance.
Ensuring appropriate information management for the HPC is a priority. In 2012, the Programme Services Branch (PSB) and the Information Services Branch collaborated on areas to strengthen Information Management (IM) capacities and systems within OCHA and the IASC. The two branches have initiated a process to map and review existing systems and processes that support the HPC. Allocating the required resources to make the required changes will remain a priority in 2013.
- OCHA created PSB in 2012 to strengthen its support for implementing the HPC at the field level through a more coherent and holistic approach to normative guidance, training and technical support. Strengthened collaboration between sections focusing on different HPC elements has resulted in more effective HQ support, including by establishing new processes to diagnose the overall status of the HPC country by country, and to provide coordinated and focused technical support to strengthen the cycle.
Year In Review
A well-coordinated and managed HPC is the basis of OCHA’s work at the country level. In 2012, through the ITA, the humanitarian community committed to strengthening the application of the HPC in Level 3 emergencies and non-L3 emergencies. To develop the normative guidance relating to the HPC, OCHA chaired the Programme Cycle Steering Group. This completed the overall HPC guidance in November 2012 and is overseeing the work to develop individual reference modules for each element of the cycle by early 2013. Progress has been accompanied by two validation missions to Chad and South Sudan, with field implementation continuing to be the focus in 2013.
The creation of PSB has consolidated much of OCHA’s work on the different elements of the programme cycle into one branch. This allows for a more coherent and seamless approach to helping the field implement the HPC. The new branch brought together the key elements of the cycle already existing in different parts of the organization – preparedness, needs assessment and analysis, strategic planning and monitoring, resource mobilization, and the coordination mechanisms that underpin the cycle. Since PSB’s creation, attention has focused on reinforcing links between the different elements of the cycle, as well as strengthening interaction and coordination with relevant OCHA branches. This has had a positive effect in creating new processes to collaboratively diagnose the status of the HPC at country level, and to better focus and coordinate OCHA’s support around the HPC.
The individual elements of the cycle were also strengthened in 2012. The adaption and implementation of the MIRA approach and other relevant elements of the coordinated assessment package has taken place in Yemen, Pakistan, Chad and South Sudan. Trainings, workshops and orientations were conducted in 14 countries and regional offices, reaching more than 500 international and national actors. In 2013, attention will focus on developing guidance to support harmonized needs assessments and analysis to strengthen the evidence base for strategic planning. Similarly, re-focused approaches in Afghanistan and other country operations have led to a simplified consolidated appeal process, with a strengthened strategic planning component separate from resource mobilization. Preliminary results from a review of the strategic qualities of 2011 and 2012 CAPs have fed into the revised CAP guidance for 2013. A similar review of 2013 CAPs will inform the next revision. Under the leadership of the Programme Cycle Steering Group, a strategic-level monitoring framework is in the final stages of development and is expected to be field tested in early 2013.
To translate these developments into field realities, OCHA needs to reinforce its support to OCHA field offices and partners to implement the HPC. In addition to providing appropriate HQ technical support, both remotely and through coordinated missions, OCHA and IASC staff must be trained on managing the cycle and on implementing its individual elements. The development of an HPC training package, which was initiated in the second half of 2012, will need to be finalized and rolled out to target audiences in the field.
Effective IM is central to the interconnectedness of the HPC. 2012 saw advances in some of these key areas. First, launched in 2012, the humanitarianresponse.info web platform enables the sharing of operational information among humanitarian actors. Ten OCHA country offices launched HR.info sites, with a further 10 planned in 2013. Secondly, the development and piloting of the Common Request Format (CRF) is streamlining field-level information gathering and management by simplifying the requesting and sharing of information with clusters. Once fully implemented, the CRF will link with the Humanitarian Dashboard, the situation report and operational presence. Finally, to strengthen and ensure the appropriateness of the IM tools that underpin the HPC, a review of existing IM systems is in progress. The mapping and final recommendations are yet to be completed, but a fundamental principle is to define data standards that OCHA should apply more consistently across the different HPC systems. Reviewing and adapting the existing tools to current realities will require continued focus and resources in 2013.
The fourth annual Pooled Fund Management Workshop, held in 2012, brought together OCHA headquarters and field representatives involved in country-based pooled funds (CHF and ERF), including fund managers and UNDP as the CHF administrative agents. Outcomes included the finalization of the Global ERF Guidelines, which was endorsed and implemented as normative standards of ERF management for OCHA country offices in the fourth quarter. The workshop initiated the development of the Global CHF Guidelines and the implementation of country-specific plans within the CHF Monitoring and Reporting (M&R) framework. All CHF teams recognized the need to hire specialized M&R staff. By the end of the year, all CHFs but one had M&R dedicated staff within the Humanitarian Financing Units. The Global ERF Evaluation was concluded and culminated in 15 recommendations. Four were considered critical for OCHA, including the issue of the mechanisms being “fit for purpose”. The evaluation will feed into the revision of the Global ERF Guidelines for improvement in the management of the funds. The Syria ERF was created during this period to address critical humanitarian needs arising from the conflict. For systematic and high-quality reporting to stakeholders, standard products and tools were developed including a dedicated pooled funds page on the Financial Tracking Service (FTS), public information products (funding updates and info graphics) and the issuance of ERF and CHF annual reports.
The Gender Marker is now fully integrated into the CAP and Global ERF Guidelines, with gender-sensitive programming implemented across all funds. OCHA supported the implementation of the Gender Marker in 16 CAPs and five pooled funds during the 2013 CAP season, both through GenCAP advisory support (10 countries) and remote support (six countries). To strengthen implementation and address remaining concerns in 2013, the Gender Marker and gender-equality programming should be clearly standardized within the CAP guidelines, needs assessment, CHAP and cluster response plans, while the CAP timeline should include a dedicated window for Gender Marker project review.
 All CAPs were assessed along four criteria: (1) depth of situational and needs analysis, (2) quality and logic of planning processes according to SMART, (3) coherence between strategy and cluster/sector response plans, and (4) monitoring frameworks and reporting tools of the response plan.
- Objective 1.1 - Member States and Regional Organizations
- Objective 1.2 - Operational Partners
- Objective 1.3 - Preparedness
- Objective 1.4 - Analysis and System-Wide Learning
- Objective 2.1 - Accountable Humanitarian Coordination Leaders
- Objective 2.2 - Scaling Up and Drawing Down Operations
- Objective 2.3 - Tools and Services
- Objective 2.4 - The Humanitarian Programme Cycle
- Objective 3.1 - Funding and Financial Management
- Objective 3.2 - Surge and Staffing Solutions
- Objective 3.3 - Organizational Learning for Results