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close this bookCoordinating Among International Organizations in Complex Emergencies (Draft 1st Edition) (Complex Emergency Training Initiative - Disaster Management Training Programme, 77 p.)
close this folderPart 1 - Coordination: objectives and best practices for complex emergencies
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentDefinition of terms
View the documentObjectives of coordination
View the documentSome arguments against coordination
View the documentPreconditions to coordination
View the documentCoordination variables in complex emergencies
Open this folder and view contentsThe spectrum of coordination activities
View the documentCoordination techniques
View the documentOvercoming barriers to inter-organizational coordination


This part of the module is designed to help you understand:

the objectives of coordination

preconditions to coordination

activities that can be enhanced through coordination

techniques that facilitate coordination

barriers to coordination and how to overcome them


An emergency situation is characterized by overwhelming needs; competing priorities; destroyed or damaged communication and transportation infrastructure; a rapid influx of providers of humanitarian assistance coupled with an outburst of mutual aid from local citizens; and highly stressed local governmental and non-governmental institutions.

The scenarios leading to complex emergencies usually also lead to an even more complicated response from a wider range of actors, sometimes involving military forces and typically demanding enormous resources. These situations heighten the need for concerted action and require coordination in order to meet the needs of the affected population.

While coordination may not be easily defined, its absence is characterized by gaps in service to affected populations; duplication of effort; inappropriate assistance; inefficient use of resources; bottlenecks, impediments, and slow reaction to changing conditions; and frustration of relief providers, officials, and survivors.

Coordination is a result of intentional actions to harmonize individual responses to maximize impact and achieve synergy - a situation where the overall effect is greater than the sum of the parts. At its best, coordination results in humane, neutral, and impartial assistance; in increased management effectiveness; a shared vision of the best possible outcomes from a given situation; a seamless approach to service delivery; and donor confidence resulting in sufficient resources to achieve the desired outcomes.