The Humanitarian Reform Support Unit (HRSU) was established in July 2006 to support OCHA – in particular the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), Deputy ERC and Assistant ERC (as Chair of the IASC Working Group) – in driving forward the humanitarian reform process. The HRSU works to ensure a common understanding of the reform (and stakeholders’ respective roles and responsibilities within it) across OCHA and among cluster leads including NGOs, the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, donors and members of the IASC – to enhance accountability, predictability and partnership for a more effective humanitarian response.




  •                  Build consensus on key humanitarian reform issues and ensure clarity on agreed IASC and policies related to the reform.
  •                  Communicate IASC policies related to the reform to all stakeholders, ensuring consistency of approach and successful implementation of humanitarian reform.
  •                  Support the implementation of reform at both headquarters and field levels.


          Activities and Accomplishments


  •                  Consensus was reached on key reform issues through HRSU’s support for the development, revision and endorsement of the IASC Guidance Note on Using the Cluster Approach to Strengthen Humanitarian Response. In collaboration with OCHA’s Evaluation and Studies Section, HRSU also supported the IASC Interim Self-Assessment of the Implementation of the Cluster Approach in the field. This reviewed progress made in the field and provided a realistic background against which the Guidance Note was considered at the IASC working group in November.
  •                  Further consensus-building was undertaken, with HRSU providing support to the Global Humanitarian Platform. This dialogue between the United Nations and non-United Nations communities formulated the principles of partnerships and more equitable representation of the non-United Nations community in decision-making forums at the field level.
  •                  In consultation with global cluster leads, the HRSU compiled the 2006 Global Cluster Appeal for Improving Global Humanitarian Response Capacity, which consolidated the budgets for each of the nine clusters’ global-level capacity-building requirements and field-level costs. It requested more than US$ 38 million, of which US$ 25 million (65 per cent) was contributed for the period 1 April 2006 to 31 April 2007.
  •                  HRSU spearheaded an IASC process to develop a humanitarian reform website that would serve as a common information platform and central repository to provide guidance and operational support on reform to the global humanitarian community. HRSU also provided and disseminated information products, including a newsletter and regular updates, and key messages were disseminated by email and through OCHA.
  •                  HRSU supported the implementation of the cluster approach in five ongoing emergencies ( Uganda , Somalia , Liberia , the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Colombia ) as well as in new emergencies (including Lebanon and the Philippines , and the earthquake in Yogyakarta , Indonesia ) through support missions and regular dialogue. HRSU deployed a staff member to act as deputy HC at the outset of the Lebanon crisis.
  •                  HRSU held Humanitarian Reform Workshops in OCHA’s regional offices in Panama (Latin America and the Caribbean), Dakar (West Africa) and Nairobi (Central and East Africa ), reaching around 170 stakeholders in the humanitarian community at the country level. Workshop participants were provided with advocacy materials and tools for the continued implementation of humanitarian reform in their daily work.
  •                  Additional capacity-building was undertaken by developing an IASC training strategy to build up a pool of cluster leads. The strategy was informed by a thorough needs assessment, which included consultation with more than 60 IASC partners. Existing trainings, such as those run by UNDAC and the Emergency Team Leadership Programme, benefited from HRSU’s guidance on bringing the programmes in line with humanitarian reform.
  •                  Building on work undertaken to empower the field, HRSU supported the first briefing of the HC pool as part of the broader objective of developing, delivering and assessing a system of learning for a total of 14 HCs (including those from non-United Nations organizations) – contributing sound leadership to the international humanitarian community’s response to emergencies.


          Performance Evaluation


  •                  HRSU’s support and promotion of the humanitarian reform agenda, positively assessed in user surveys conducted during the regional Humanitarian Reform Workshops, demonstrated that the key functions of the HRSU remain important to OCHA in moving the humanitarian reform agenda forward.
  •                  A heightened awareness of humanitarian reform initiatives being undertaken at headquarters and in the field resulted in a number of new partnerships being established within the humanitarian community, and more stakeholder participation in these initiatives. For example, cluster working groups reported improved partnerships at the field level and improved communication between national, United Nations and non-United Nations humanitarian actors. The health cluster listed approximately 29 partners working on improving the global humanitarian response capacity.
  •                  The field remains reliant upon the capacity and willingness of stakeholders to support country-level actors – equipping them with tools and resources (guidelines, standard operating procedures, trainings) for a more effective humanitarian response. HRSU’s role in developing operational guidance and training programmes was welcomed by IASC members.
  •                  Much progress has been made in mainstreaming humanitarian reform throughout OCHA through internal briefings and trainings, but further improvements in mainstreaming will depend on the engagement of all branches, sections and units, and of all field and regional offices.