At the country level, UNICEF's role in sector/cluster leadership is guided by the revised Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action (the CCCs), and the Generic Terms of Reference for Sector/Cluster Leads at country level. Under the CCCs, UNICEF is committed to ensuring there is an effective coordination mechanism operational for WASH, nutrition, health, education, child protection, gender-based violence (GBV) and mental health and psycho-social support (MHPSS). In countries where clusters have been activated, UNICEF will usually lead or co-lead the clusters/AoRs for which it is Cluster Lead Agency at the global level to ensure predictable leadership. At the sub-national level, partners also often take cluster/sector coordination responsibilites. As a guiding principle, country-specific arrangements should be determined based on the operational capacity of UNICEF in a given country/context and contextual factors.
What is the role of the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency at the country level?
The role of the cluster/sector lead agencies at the country level is to facilitate a process aimed at ensuring well-coordinated and effective humanitarian responses in the sector or area of activity concerned. Specific responsibilities of cluster/sector leads at the country level include ensuring that (see Terms of Reference for Cluster/Sector Lead at Country Level for a more detailed description):
- effective and inclusive coordination mechanisms are established, involving key humanitarian partners, national/local authorities, and other relevant actors;
- timely assessments, planning and monitoring of the humantiarian situation and response are carried out, with clear identification of gaps
- emergency preparedness is undertaken for future emergency situations;
- an effective and appropriate response is implemented to agreed standards, including - if required - the provision of assistance or services as a last resort; and
- evidence-based advocacy and resource mobilization is implemented in collaboration and with the support of the global cluster lead agencies.
The sector/cluster lead for any given sector is an agency; for that reason, the UNICEF head of agency -the Representative- is accountable to the Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator for those sectors/cluster for which UNICEF has accepted the cluster coordination responsibility. The Representative will delegate the day-to-day cluster coordination responsibilties to a cluster coordinator (CC). The cluster coordinator should ideally be dedicated to this particular role, however where this is not possible, staff may be required to 'double-hat' (i.e. perform both cluster coordination and programme management functions).
See Q&A on cluster management at the country level for more information.