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close this bookHandbook for Emergencies - Second Edition (UNHCR, 1999, 414 p.)
close this folder7. Coordination and Site Level Organization
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentCoordination
View the documentOrganization at the Site Level
View the documentKey References
View the documentAnnexes


Annex 1 - Elements of a Coordinating Body

Each of the factors listed below would need to be evaluated against the particular context and policy of the host government. At the beginning of the operation UNHCR should secure a suitable meeting room for coordination meetings.


The nature of the coordinating body and its usefulness will be determined partly by its membership.

1. Criteria for participation:

i. Provision of direct services;

ii. Regular attendance at coordination meetings;

iii. Compliance with service guidelines and standards;

iv. Regular financial contributions to coordination mechanism.

2. Other organizations may wish to attend coordination meetings without full participation in the coordination mechanism:

i. Organizations which may choose not to fully participate, e.g. ICRC;

ii. Funding organizations and donor representatives;

iii. Public interest groups;

iv. Military forces.

Functions of the coordination body

1. Meetings.

These may be needed at the central and the site level, and include:

i. Overall coordination meetings, which may be needed daily at the start of an emergency;

ii. Sectoral committee meetings (e.g. health, registration, water);

iii. Conferences.

2. Identification of needed services and soliciting voluntary agencies to assume responsibilities for the provision of these services.

3. Allocation of donated commodities and financial contributions.

4. Guidelines and standards for the provision of services.

5. Orientation of newly arrived agencies.

6. Orientation of incoming staff.

7. Research and documentation.

8. Support for settlement coordination committees.

9. Coordination with agencies outside the country.

10. Information sharing.

11. Fund raising.

Annex 2 - Tips on running a meeting

1. Set clear objectives for the meeting

· Why is the meeting needed and what is the expected outcome? (Communication? Problem-solving? Planning? Decision-making?)

· Who should attend the meeting?

· Should the meeting be formal or informal?

2. Prepare an agenda

· Make a written agenda with clear objectives and approximate timing for each item;

· Ensure that the agenda states why the meeting is needed;

· Make sure the agenda is realistic (not too many items) and sequence the items appropriately;

· Put the difficult, important issues near the beginning (perhaps dealing first with something quick and simple);

· Plan breaks if the meeting is more than 1 hour in length;

· Avoid mixing information sharing and decision-making in the same meeting - hold separate meetings for these functions.

3. Documentation

· Circulate a detailed agenda, list of participants and any background documentation (such as minutes of previous meetings) in advance (but not too far ahead) of the meeting, 2 to 3 days before is best;

· Indicate the time, place and duration of the meeting;

· Prepare audio-visual materials in advance.

4. Seating arrangements

· Choose a circular or rectangular table;

· Avoid a long, narrow table if possible as this makes communication more difficult;

· In an informal setting, a semicircle of chairs facing a flip chart is the best;

· Everyone should be able to see each other;

· Participants should not be too crowded or too far apart.

5. During the meeting

· Start on time;

· Have the participants introduce themselves if they do not know each other;

· Clarify the objective(s) of the meeting and review the agenda and time limits;

· Outline how the meeting will be conducted (methodology);

· Identify the rapporteur or secretary for the meeting;

· Ask the participants if they agree to the agenda and be flexible on minor changes if there is consensus;

· If applicable, review action items of previous meeting(s);

· Make sure you have everyone's attention before opening the meeting.

During the meeting the chairman or facilitator should

· Avoid getting personally involved in the discussions;

· Keep an overall view of the objective(s);

· Do not lose the thread of the argument;

· Stick to the agenda (but be flexible within agenda items);

· Ask for information and opinions;

· Summarize and reformulate key points (have the rapporteur or secretary use the flip chart to record the points as they occur);

· Clarify and elaborate where needed;

· Concentrate on key issues and stop digressions;

· Test for consensus;

· Ensure everyone gets a chance to speak;

· Assign responsibilities and deadlines for agreed tasks (action, responsibility, and date by agenda item);

· Set date, time and place for next meeting;

· Close the meeting on time, on a decided and positive note.

7. After The Meeting

· Keep a record of the meeting. It should include the following basic items:

i. A list of the participants noting those who were invited but did not attend ("apologies" list);

ii. The conclusions, decisions, recommendations and the follow up action required, by agenda item, with the name of the person responsible for action and time frame;

iii. The time, date and place of the next meeting.

Note: working in small groups

Dividing the participants into small groups can be useful in large meetings (more than 12 participants), when discussions are lengthy. Depending on the subject, it can allow in-depth discussion on specific questions and possibly help to solve problems.