The Inter-Agency Standing Committee has just released the IASC Guidance on Strengthening Participation, Representation and Leadership of Local and National Actors in IASC Humanitarian Coordination Mechanisms
aimed for HCs, HCTs, Cluster and Inter-Cluster Coordination Groups, and other Related Task Forces and Working Groups.
This guidance note has been developed to support efforts to strengthen the meaningful participation, representation, and leadership of local and national humanitarian actors (L/NAs) within IASC humanitarian coordination structures. It draws on over 100 pieces of research and good practice to provide recommendations on how L/NAs can be an integral part of humanitarian coordination structures. It provides guidance for Humanitarian Coordinators, Humanitarian Country Teams, Cluster and Inter-Cluster Coordination Groups, and other related Task Forces and Working Groups.
The guidance contained in this note should be considered with due regard to existing national structures and contextual dynamics. International actors must be sensitive about the potential risks that representatives of local and national organizations might face in taking part in international coordination structures. International actors should seek to accompany and support national and local efforts, rather than impose structures. In line with the UN Guidance note on the Protection and Promotion of Civic Space, international actors should focus on the participation of L/NAs in IASC processes, the promotion of civic space and most importantly, the protection of civil society actors. Finally, international actors must be cognizant of existing contextual dynamics and the varied levels of engagement from L/NAs who may have different expectations and motives in joining coordination mechanisms. Equally, it must be made clear that participation in humanitarian coordination by all actors is contingent on respect for humanitarian principles.
PURPOSE AND CONTEXT
Engaging L/NAs is critical to the success of humanitarian action. L/NAs are often the first responders and are at the heart of humanitarian response. They provide an invaluable understanding of local challenges and potential solutions, are able to mobilize local networks and offer greater access to affected populations, hence contributing to a more effective, efficient, and sustainable humanitarian response with an enhanced accountability to affected populations. They are also often adept at working across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus to support affected communities in preparedness, response, recovery and after international actors withdraw.
Yet the international humanitarian system has made limited progress in increasing funding, capacity development, equitable and meaningful partnerships and the participation of L/NAs in their coordination structures, which has overall remained relatively limited over the past years – particularly in terms of risk-sharing, leadership and decision-making.
An explicit priority for the humanitarian sector since the 2016 World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) and the establishment of the Grand Bargain has been to increase support to local actors and communities, including through a specific commitment to strengthen leadership and decision making by local actors. The COVID-19 pandemic further accentuated the need to strengthen the role of L/NAs within humanitarian coordination structures.
The Global WASH Cluster would like to engage all National Humanitarian WASH Coordination Platforms, partners, humanitarian WASH practitioners and broader WASH colleagues to take some time to read and apply this important guidance to your contexts and which will hopefully contribute to shaping the future of our responses.
CAST (Cluster Advocacy and Support Team)