4.4 The importance of coordination and advocacy

Coordination is essential both at a global level and on the ground during an emergency to ensure that agencies work together to achieve a more ‘predictable, effective, timely and coherent WASH humanitarian response’. CARE is an active participant in the Global WASH cluster led by UNICEF, and maintains an approach to emergency response consistent with the practices adopted by the cluster.

For in-country emergencies, the WASH cluster provides support in coordinating W3 information—who, what, where—as well as coordinating overall strategy, to ensure interventions amongst the humanitarian community are effective and adequate. In large-scale emergencies, technical guidance may be coordinated through separate Technical Working Groups (TWG), and overall response strategy may be coordinated through a Strategic Advisory Group (SAG). It is sometimes possible to access WASH-related non-food relief items (NFI) such as hygiene kits and water storage tanks through the WASH cluster, and donors often make active participation in the cluster a requirement for funding. CARE staff on the ground should actively participate in the cluster and maintain close contact with UNICEF to understand what can be accessed by members of the cluster.

One of the most important reasons for CARE to participate in coordination mechanisms is to advocate for solutions in meeting implementation challenges and barriers. It is essential that challenges are represented with other NGOs’ concerns to the higher level, i.e. to governments, to donors and to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator. The WASH cluster is an important forum for CARE and other NGOs to voice concerns and push for effective solutions. In many cases, concerns are jointly raised with other clusters, particularly shelter or the Camp Coordination and Camp Management Cluster (CCCM). Some examples of advocacy points include:

  • to remove barriers or restrictions for WASH-related supplies to be imported into the country
  • the right for IDPs to be provided with transitional solutions, or to return to their original locations
  • for more adequately sized lands to be designated for displaced people to remain
  • for displaced people to have access to adequate services.

UNICEF is responsible for providing leadership of the cluster on the ground during an emergency. If they are not present, it is appropriate for NGOs such as CARE to provide any necessary leadership around WASH coordination—even in small emergencies—to ensure there is effective coordination between humanitarian agencies, government and other local stakeholders. In a large emergency, it is likely that a dedicated Cluster Coordinator will be present either with or without a team of coordination staff. In these emergencies, there are many opportunities for NGOs to lead in either sub-national coordination or in the TWGs. For example, in the Haiti earthquake response, each municipality within Port au Prince had its own WASH cluster meeting, and some of these were led by NGOs. If CARE has the capacity to take leadership in any sub-clusters, this is encouraged.