|Coordinating Among International Organizations in Complex Emergencies (Draft 1st Edition) (Complex Emergency Training Initiative - Disaster Management Training Programme, 77 p.)|
|Part 1 - Coordination: objectives and best practices for complex emergencies|
The central questions for implementation of a coordinated response are:
1. What is the coordination mechanism?
2. Who will facilitate the coordination and what roles, responsibilities and resources will be brought to bear on a complex emergency.
The choice of mechanism and roles, etc., will depend on the variables and conditions of the emergency. A review of case studies of recent complex emergencies illustrates that each one is very different in some major respects from all others. Some of the variables that influence the design of a coordination mechanism are:
¨ The geopolitical situation of the emergency
Some countries, even when affected by emergencies, are regarded as low priority by the international community and are largely left to their own resources.
The international community responds very differently to emergencies in different parts of the world. For example, emergencies in the republics of the former Soviet Union, are regarded very differently than emergencies in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America. Similarly, some countries, even when affected by emergencies, are regarded as low priority by the international community and are largely left to their own resources.
¨ International relations with host government
The relationship between the host government, local authorities, and international organizations can range from supportive to antagonistic. Where the relations are antagonistic, the coordination mechanism may be limited to participation only of the host government and those organizations held in favor by the host government. Organizations out of favor would likely require a parallel mechanism.
¨ The capability of the host government and local population
The greater the resources and management capability of the host government, the lesser is the dependency on outside assistance. (Nevertheless, there are examples of middle income countries receiving enormous amounts of international assistance when the geopolitical factors favored them.)
¨ Influx of international assistance agencies
Some emergencies, especially large-scale and politically popular ones, attract a huge contingent of relief agencies.
Some emergencies, especially large-scale and politically popular ones, attract a huge contingent of relief agencies. This increases the demands on the host government and may require additional assistance to manage and coordinate the activities of the multitude of agencies.
¨ Presence of NGOs and international organizations
While an influx of many new agencies can exacerbate coordination problems, the long-term presence of NGOs and international organizations prior to the emergency may assist the process of coordination. Indeed, the existence of consortia, networks and other prior relationships may pre-determine what coordination mechanism will be utilized.
¨ Presence of a military force
With increasing frequency military forces are employed in complex emergencies, whether for peacemaking, peacekeeping, or for logistics support. When present, a military force requires a coordination mechanism that accommodates the respective needs of the military and the humanitarian assistance agencies.
¨ Size of the complex emergency
One variable that affects the structure of a coordination mechanism is the size of the emergency. There is often a direct correlation between the total population affected and the number of organizations/complexity of the operation. This is especially true when the affected population is in extremely dire straits such as the one million Rwandan refugees that fled to Zaire in 1994 within a period of a few days and located on sites with very little local resources to sustain them.
These variables all become determinants when answering the questions: who coordinates and how is it done?