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Cablegate: Somalia Dart Situation Report 15 - the Cluster

VZCZCXRO2781
RR RUEHDE RUEHROV RUEHTRO
DE RUEHNR #0828/01 0520753
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 210753Z FEB 07
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 7611
INFO RUCNSOM/SOMALIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0098
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHMFIUU/CJTF HOA
RHMFIUU/CDR USCENTCOM MACDILL AFB FL
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 05 NAIROBI 000828

SIPDIS

AIDAC

USAID/DCHA FOR MHESS, WGARVELINK, LROGERS
DCHA/OFDA FOR KLUU, GGOTTLIEB, AFERRARA, ACONVERY,
MLUTZ, KCHANNELL
DCHA/FFP FOR WHAMMINK, JDWORKEN
AFR/AFR/EA FOR JBORNS
STATE FOR AF/E, AF/F AND PRM
STATE/AF/E FOR NGARY
STATE/F FOR ASISSON
STATE/PRM FOR AWENDT, MMCKELVEY
NSC FOR TSHORTLEY
USUN FOR TMALY
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH
USMISSION UN ROME FOR RNEWBERG

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAID PHUM PREL SO

SUBJECT: SOMALIA DART SITUATION REPORT 15 - THE CLUSTER
APPROACH IN SOMALIA

NAIROBI 00000828 001.2 OF 005


SUMMARY

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian
Affairs (OCHA) conducted a self-assessment of Somalia's
pilot cluster system in October 2006. OCHA noted
significant improvement in coordination among UN
agencies, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and
international organizations (IOs), with reductions in
program overlaps. However, OCHA also discovered
weaknesses in cluster leadership, funding mechanisms,
and Nairobi-field communications. The USG Disaster
Assistance Response Team (DART) has received mixed
reviews of the cluster approach in Somalia, yet notes
significant improvements in gap analysis and strategic
planning. End summary.

BACKGROUND

1. OCHA and UN Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC)
principals endorsed a cluster approach to international
responses to humanitarian crises in 2005. The UN
cluster system was designed as a global mechanism to
address and identify gaps in response efforts and
enhance the quality of humanitarian action. The
central coordination approach aims to improve the
effectiveness of humanitarian response by ensuring
greater predictability and accountability while at the
same time strengthening partnerships between NGOs, IOs,
and UN agencies.

2. At the country level, this approach aims to better
prioritize available humanitarian resources by
clarifying the division of labor among organizations,
better define roles and responsibilities of
humanitarian organizations, and provide a point of
contact and a provider of last resort in all key
sectors or areas of activity.

3. The UN cluster system comprises nine groups defined
by technical and cross-cutting themes along common
service areas. The formal clusters and lead agencies
are provided below:

-- nutrition: the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF);

-- health: the UN World Health Organization (WHO);

-- water and sanitation: UNICEF;

-- emergency shelter for internally displaced persons
(IDPs): the Office of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees (UNHCR), and the International Federation of
the Red Cross (IFRC) as the convening agency;

-- camp coordination and management for IDPs: UNHCR and
the International Organization for Migration (IOM);

-- protection: UNHCR and UNICEF;

-- early recovery: the UN Development Program (UNDP);

-- logistics: the UN World Food Program (WFP);

-- emergency telecommunications: OCHA, UNICEF, and WFP.

4. Formal clusters have not been designated for
sectors where the leadership and accountability is

NAIROBI 00000828 002.2 OF 005


clear, such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organization
(FAO) leadership for agriculture, UNICEF coordination
of education, and WFP coordination of food assistance.

5. Not all humanitarian emergencies will require all
nine formal sectors at the country level and the system
allows for clusters to be merged, such as health,
nutrition, and food and agriculture. Additional
issues, such as early recovery planning, may be
integrated into existing clusters.

6. According to OCHA, country level clusters should
adhere to norms, policies, and internationally
recognized standards. Cluster leads are expected to
report to the UN country Humanitarian Coordinator while
at the same time report through their agency specific
hierarchy. Lead agencies may appoint full-time staff
to work as dedicated cluster chairs if warranted by the
scope of the emergency.

SOMALIA'S CLUSTER SYSTEM

7. The Somalia IASC requested that a pilot cluster
system be adopted in Somalia, and in January 2006, OCHA
identified and rolled out eight clusters: food led by
WFP, agriculture and livelihoods led by FAO, health led
by WHO, nutrition led by UNICEF, water and sanitation
led by UNICEF, education led by UNICEF, protection led
by UNHCR, and logistics led by WFP. There is no formal
UN cluster for education in Somalia.

8. OCHA has identified early recovery as a cross
cutting theme for each cluster, hence it has not been
given formal cluster status. An early recovery working
group was established under UNDP in late 2006 and will
link with the Somalia Reconstruction and Development
Plan (RDP) that UNDP is spearheading.

9. While cluster meetings are held in Nairobi,
coordination meetings in regional hubs inside Somalia,
such as Wajid and Bossaso, bring NGOs together with
local counterparts and provide information to Nairobi-
based staff.

10. Somalia's cluster system has faced resistance over
the past year. The Somalia Support Secretariat (SSS),
formerly the Somalia Aid Coordination Body (SACB), had
been facilitating sector coordination among
international and local NGOs, UN agencies, and IOs
since the early 1990s. Health, as the largest sector,
has a dedicated chairperson to facilitate meetings,
ensure information flow between stakeholders, prepare
contingency plans, and act as the focal person for
emergency planning and response. The introduction of
UN clusters, which initially paralleled SACB
activities, created frustration and stress due to
duplicative meetings, repetitive agendas, and the
perceived lack of capacity among some lead agencies and
cluster chairpersons.

11. Some of the clusters immediately incorporated
existing working groups, such as the nutrition and
water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) clusters both led
by UNICEF. Following an initial cumbersome separation
of emergent WASH issues from recovery and development
focused activities, one integrated group now addresses
the full spectrum of water, sanitation, and hygiene

NAIROBI 00000828 003.2 OF 005


needs and responses. The WASH cluster was very
effective during the 2005-2006 drought period,
outlining coherent response plans at that critical
time.

12. The nutrition cluster has strengthened early
warning mechanisms with the aid of a former FAO Food
Security Analysis Unit (FSAU) nutrition surveillance
officer seconded as cluster chair to UNICEF. The
cluster has standardized protocols in malnutrition
management and nutrition survey procedures, increased
the number of supplemental and therapeutic feeding
programs throughout Somalia, and continues to map
nutrition focused interventions and analyze gaps in
coverage.

13. The livelihoods cluster has integrated the
existing SSS food security working group to address
agriculture, livestock, and fishery issues. While the
livelihoods cluster had developed and facilitated an
emergency response plan for drought-affected regions of
Somalia, they have been much slower to respond to Rift
Valley fever in recent weeks. The cluster adequately
shared information on the situation, but FAO, as the
cluster lead, has been slow to operationalize
significant responses.

14. The protection cluster, led by UNHCR, has
successfully raised the profile of protection issues
within the humanitarian community. Initiatives include
a protection monitoring network, population movement
tracking, and a focus on IDPs including an IDP
profiling exercise. While the protection cluster has
focused on gap analysis and coordination, operational
response efforts have been minimal. However, the
heightened profile of IDPs has resulted in
prioritization of IDP needs in the 2007 UN Consolidated
Appeals Process (CAP).

15. The health cluster is probably the weakest and
least effective cluster in Somalia. WHO, the health
cluster lead, has limited technical expertise to
address, coordinate, and implement health-related
activities beyond polio eradication and health
information systems. Additionally, high turnover of
cluster chairpersons has resulted in poor continuity of
leadership.

16. NGOs have been critical of WHO's decision not to
integrate the health cluster into the existing SSS
health sector committee. WHO has instead maintained
parallel meetings that duplicate SSS health committee
meeting agendas. Attendance at WHO cluster meetings
tapered significantly after the first few months and
the two entities eventually merged in late 2006 under
the direction of an SSS health chairperson. While WHO
is still the cluster lead agency, in reality the SSS
health sector chairperson leads the health cluster, and
WHO has minimal representation in this forum.

OCHA ASSESSMENT OF THE CLUSTER SYSTEM IN SOMALIA

17. OCHA Somalia conducted an in-country self
assessment of the cluster system in October 2006 and
noted wide variation in cluster performance. Most
clusters have avoided duplicating drought-focused
relief efforts through mapping agency activities,

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capacities, and geographic areas of coverage. OCHA
concluded that significant overlaps in coverage have
been reduced due to greater prioritization of
activities.

18. OCHA Somalia cited weak leadership and poor
dissemination of cluster lead roles and
responsibilities. OCHA also stated that a proper
analysis of prior coordination mechanisms should have
preceded adoption of the new cluster approach.
Recommendations following the assessment call for
clusters to be led by persons of high caliber, with
emergency coordination experience, who can draw in a
wide variety of actors and provide a vision of
consultative strategies, workplans, and agreed-upon
indicators and targets.

19. OCHA Somalia also highlighted the sometimes
antagonistic relationship between NGOs and UN agencies.
Some UN agencies have adopted patronizing positions,
viewing NGOs as the implementers, thereby compromising
the spirit of partnership. Also, NGOs often prefer not
to be closely associated with the UN to avoid blurring
the distinction between political and humanitarian
agendas. OCHA Somalia noted a need to address the
roles of UN and local and international NGOs, while
maintaining equity and respect for the autonomy of
individual agencies.

20. Local and international NGOs can include emergency
projects for funding through the CAP process; they can
also apply for project funding through the OCHA
Humanitarian Response Fund (HRF). The cluster lead
agencies are requesting that NGOs channel not only CAP
and HRF projects for review and endorsement, but also
NGO projects that receive direct donor support outside
the CAP and HRF process. For some NGOs there is little
advantage in accessing funding through the cluster
system, especially if they are able to secure funds
directly from donors. In addition, NGOs have strong
feelings of neutrality and independence that cannot be
overshadowed by participation in the UN cluster system
or accessing funds through the UN system.

21. According to OCHA Somalia, direct donor funding to
NGOs without endorsement of NGO proposals from the
relevant cluster signals less than full donor support
for the cluster mechanism. OCHA Somalia recommends
evaluating the role of donors and funding mechanisms to
identify a solution that is acceptable to all parties.

22. Lastly, the assessment reviewed field-level
coordination. OCHA Somalia observed that despite
improvements in field-level coordination with the
cluster approach, a disconnect still exists between
Nairobi and the field. OCHA Somalia noted that
insecurity and poor access to certain locations in
Somalia contribute to this issue. Because of years of
insecurity in Somalia, the substantial humanitarian
community serving Somalis is largely based in Nairobi.

23. OCHA Somalia determined that the cluster system is
viable, but that it is too early in the ongoing
learning process to make final conclusions regarding
overall effectiveness.

CONCLUSIONS

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24. The cluster approach in Somalia has received mixed
reviews, as identified by OCHA's assessment, USAID's
Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)
discussions with NGO partners, and direct observations
by USAID officers. OCHA highlighted significant areas
of concern, however, some of the critical issues could
be resolved if recommendations highlighted in the OCHA
self-assessment are adopted.

25. OFDA has seen significant improvement in multi-
sector coordination, the formation of strategic plans,
and gap analysis, with greater NGO involvement from
Nairobi and the field since the inception of the
cluster system. The nutrition and WASH clusters, and
to some extent the livelihoods cluster, have had a
significant positive impact on information sharing,
coordination, planning, and initiating appropriate
responses during the 2006 drought and recent flood
crisis. However, the health and livelihoods clusters'
response to Rift Valley fever in southern Somalia has
been less impressive, in part due to ongoing insecurity
in affected areas, but also due to insufficient
contingency planning by cluster leads.

26. OFDA's greatest concern relating to the cluster
system is WHO's ability to lead the health cluster, as
its ability to perform this task at the Somalia country
level is questionable. Unless WHO expands its in-
country technical capacity to coordinate at the field
level, strengthens disease surveillance, and recruits a
cluster chairperson to facilitate a strategic plan with
indicators and benchmarks, health sector coordination
should be managed by the SSS. UNICEF, with greater
operational capacity and historically a leader in
health sector coordination, could provide additional
input and support.

27. Donor support for the cluster approach needs to be
addressed by the wider UN and donor community. It is
not feasible to mandate that donors only fund
implementing partners through the cluster system, as
not all clusters have the technical or programmatic
expertise to provide objective feedback and funding
recommendations. There is also a clear risk of
conflict of interest, with UN agencies acting as
cluster lead, program implementer, and donor, for the
UN cluster leads to process international NGO funding
proposals.

28. The role of OCHA as monitor for cluster
performance is of concern, and OFDA recommends that
OCHA implement a mechanism to address non-performing
cluster leads. The DART will continue to participate
in key cluster meetings and facilitate the flow of
information on critical issues as they arise, and
continue to provide feedback to OCHA on cluster
performance issues.

RANNEBERGER

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