Reference Module for Cluster Coordination at the Country Level

Following the recommendations of an independent Humanitarian Response Review in 2005, the cluster approach was proposed as one way of addressing gaps and strengthening the effectiveness of humanitarian response through building partnerships. The cluster approach ensures clear leadership, predictability and accountability in international responses to humanitarian emergencies by clarifying the division of labour among organizations and better defining their roles and responsibilities within the different sectors of the response. It aims to make the international humanitarian community better organised and more accountable and professional, so that it can be a better partner for the affected people, host governments, local authorities, local civil society and resourcing partners.
However, the strength of the cluster approach relies on an understanding that this approach is not the only humanitarian coordination solution. In some cases, the cluster approach may co-exist with other “non-cluster” coordination solutions – whether national or international – or an alternative sectoral approach may be preferable. An indiscriminate application of all clusters in every emergency may waste resources and reduce opportunities for governments to exercise their primary responsibility to provide humanitarian assistance to people in need.