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Support to Aid
Coordination Between Aid Agencies
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The Players in Aid, Relief and Development
Aid efforts rarely happen in a vacuum, and there is rarely just one organization responsible for all aid, relief and development efforts in even one community. There are many players in aid, relief and development: local and national governments, local aid agencies, international NGOs, corporations, universities, even local businesses, the local media and military forces. All of these different players need to know what your organization us doing, to increase trust and credibility for your work and, potentially, to partner with others in such work. It also helps to quickly counter misunderstandings, rumors and competition that inevitably arise in aid and development work.
This AWN advice page is focused specifically on coordinating efforts among national and international NGOs and UN agencies.
As noted on the AWN advice pages regarding government relations, it is vital that the government of the country concerned should coordinate the relief and development activities in its own country. This respects the sovereignty of the government, provided that it is a legitimate government. It is also usually improves the chances of the aid activity to succeed in the long term. It is better to build up the capacity of a government to manage aid, relief and development efforts than to take over part of its coordination functions, even if in the short-term aid agencies might sometimes be able to perform those functions more efficiently
UN humanitarian coordination
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) is responsible for the coordination of the UN's response to humanitarian emergencies..
In any major emergency a UN Humanitarian Coordinator is dispatched. Typically, OCHA will supply staff for a coordination unit reporting to the Humanitarian Coordinator.
There is a growing trend for OCHA to set up a Humanitarian Information Centre (HIC) to gather and disseminate information about a humanitarian emergency. The central website for HICs is www.humanitarianinfo.org.
ReliefWeb (www.reliefweb.int) is the UN internet hub for humanitarian emergencies. Reports from all kinds of aid agencies (UN, NGO, Red Cross/Crescent, donorsand others) are posted on ReliefWeb, providing a valuable collection of reasonably up-to-date information on any major humanitarian crisis.
Make sure that your reports are posted on ReliefWeb by sending them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Maps should be sent to email@example.com. For everything you send, state clearly the date of publication, source of information, contact information and any special instruction you may have.
Some humanitarian organisations make considerable use of AlertNet at www.alertnet.org. It provides news and coordination tools, courtesy of the Reuters Foundation, and is often mentioned in the same context as ReliefWeb.
International NGO coordination bodies
There are many NGO coordination bodies around the world. Here are some examples of international ones:
National NGO coordination bodies
National NGO coordination bodies are sometimes very effective and powerful, and sometimes quite weak. They usually have a great depth of local knowledge, both of humanitarian and development issues in their country and of local relief and development capacities.
Their relationship with governments can sometimes be excellent, and most helpful to international organisations wishing to work in that country. Often, however, the relationship is difficult. In any case they are likely to be a useful (though not infallible) source of advice. They should definitely be informed of all activities being undertaken by international agencies, and ways for their contributions to such should be sought constantly. Invite representatives to observe your staff in action in the field, to your events, even to your debriefing sessions from field staff, as appropriate. You can read much more advice about working with these groups on the AWN advice page for networking locally.
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