The humanitarian operation in South Sudan brings together representatives of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), UN agencies, non-governmental and international organizations and humanitarian donors. Mechanisms operate at both the national level and throughout the 10 states of South Sudan. The following coordination structures have been established to support humanitarian work in the country:
The Humanitarian Coordination Forum operates as the main interface between the GoSS Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, humanitarian agencies and donors. The forum analyses the root causes of the humanitarian situation, develops strategic policy and identifies joint priorities for action.
The Humanitarian Country Team provides strategic direction for the overall humanitarian operation in South Sudan. It is comprised of the heads of UN agencies, non-governmental and international organizations and donors, with a number of humanitarian organizations participating as observers (ICRC and MSF). The Humanitarian Country Team ensures, where appropriate, linkages with recovery and development planning.
The Inter-Cluster Working Group is the technical team which supports the Humanitarian Country Team and advises on operational priorities, concerns and gaps in humanitarian operations. The Inter-Cluster Working Group consists of cluster leads from UN and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) heading the nine clusters (food security and livelihoods; health; logistics; non-food items and emergency shelter; nutrition; protection; water, sanitation and hygiene; education and emergency telecommunications).
Cluster Working Groups formulate cluster strategy and response plans. The clusters coordinate their response at central and state levels. Clusters have dedicated coordinators that ensure technical information from the field is shared in a timely and efficient manner.
State coordination structures exist throughout South Sudan, reflecting the core coordination structures at the central level. State Coordination Teams, under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator’s Office, meet regularly in each of the 10 states. OCHA (in states with an OCHA presence) facilitates inter-cluster coordination and co-chairs the State Humanitarian Coordination Forum with the Government’s South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission. In 2010, OCHA re-established its presence in six of the most vulnerable states in southern Sudan in response to a deteriorating humanitarian situation. OCHA is in the process of establishing a presence in an additional two states.
Humanitarian coordination framework
In 2009 the humanitarian situation in southern Sudan deteriorated rapidly, mainly due to increased inter-communal fighting, and efforts were made to scale-up and reinvigorate humanitarian coordination. In late 2009 and throughout 2010, positive progress was made in establishing coherent humanitarian coordination structures in southern Sudan. Faced with a mounting humanitarian crisis, these efforts were accelerated in January 2010 including the establishment of the Humanitarian Country Team Juba satellite which has since transitioned into a Humanitarian Country Team. The aim is to strengthen the humanitarian response, so that it is more coherent, principled, timely and effective, and to ensure a more unified approach at all decision-making levels.
The humanitarian coordination framework was further streamlined in April 2010 with the activation of the cluster system. This had two main aims: first, to improve the response to the humanitarian situation through a more accountable structure; and second, to strengthen the humanitarian community’s preparedness to respond to a possible deterioration of the humanitarian situation. The cluster approach was rolled out in eight key emergency sectors: food security and livelihoods; health; logistics; non-food items and emergency shelter; nutrition; protection; water, sanitation and hygiene; and education. A ninth cluster, emergency telecommunications, was added in 2011.
The formalization of the cluster approach aimed to strengthen cooperation with the Government, while also ensuring the inclusion of non-governmental organizations and civil society. Each cluster now has a designated NGO co-lead. The clusters further support and strengthen the Government emergency response capacity, and work in partnership with the Government to ensure its work is aligned with the ongoing recovery and rehabilitation work done through the Government Budget Sector Working Groups. The medium- to long-term planning done through the Budget Sector Working Groups has continued and these remain the fora with which the clusters agree priorities and strategies for the short term/emergency response.