In January 2007, UNHCR issued a document titled 'Policy Framework and implementation Strategy: UNHCR's role in support of an enhanced humanitarian response to situations of internal displacement'. The primary purpose of this document was to set out the key principles and objectives guiding UNHCR's engagement with internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the context of the UN's humanitarian reform process, and in particular, within the new institutional arrangements known as “the Cluster Approach”.
This real-time evaluation (RTE) report is one in a series which seeks to analyze and assess UNHCR's initial experience in the implementation of the Cluster Approach, with the aim of identifying lessons learned and effective practices which may be drawn upon as that approach is rolled out to other ongoing humanitarian emergencies. The evaluation process also provided an early opportunity to review field operations in the light of the IDP Policy Framework referred to above, together with UNHCR's policy paper on "The Protection of IDPs and the Role of UNHCR", issued in February 2007. The countries selected for evaluation are those in which the Cluster Approach was first activated (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Liberia, Uganda and Somalia), together with Chad where a cluster-like arrangement was in place at the time when the first RTE was undertaken.
This evaluation report is based on a mission to Somalia that was undertaken from 2 - 10 July 2007. The evaluation team consisted of three UNHCR staff members: Neill Wright (Senior Coordinator for IDP Operations), Enda Savage (IDP Advisory Team) and Esther Kiragu (Senior Policy Officer, Policy Development and Evaluation Service). The team visited IDP locations and held discussions with beneficiaries in several sites in Baidoa, (Hanana 1, Kormara, Bonkay), Garowe, (Camp 4), Galkayo (Bulo Baley), and Bosasso (Tawal).
A half-day workshop on humanitarian reform was conducted for UNHCR BO Somalia staff based in Nairobi. Extensive briefing sessions were held with the Representative and key staff both in BO Somalia as well as field locations visited by the RTE team. Meetings were also held with the UN Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, and other representatives of the Inter- Agency Standing Committee for the Country Team of Somalia, (hereinafter referred to as the IASC CT), (UNOCHA, UNICEF, HABITAT, ICRC and UNDP). The team also met with government officials in all locations, including the Governor of Baidoa, Director-General Ministry of Interior in Puntland, Minister for Planning in Puntland, District Commissioner Galkayo, the Police Commissioner Galkayo and Clan Elders/ traditional and religious leaders of South Galkayo. The mission held extensive discussions with both local and international NGOs partners in the Cluster Approach such as the Danish Refugee Council (DRC) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC).
The initial findings and key recommendations of the evaluation were presented to UNHCR staff in BO Somalia, IASC CT representatives, and other stakeholders prior to the mission's departure from Nairobi. Similarly, and in a series of presentations, key findings were shared with UNHCR headquarter staff in Geneva after the mission.
Key findings and recommendations
This real time evaluation mission followed an earlier mission by the UNHCR Assistant High Commissioner (Operations) that was conducted between 30 April and 5 May 2007. Most of the findings and conclusions of that high-level mission in so far as they relate to the implementation of the Cluster Approach are also elaborated on in this report. The RTE mission concentrated on UNHCR's experience in the implementation of the Cluster Approach, especially in addressing the latest humanitarian emergency in the light of ongoing fighting in and around Mogadishu and other parts of South-Central Somalia, and the thousands displaced as a result. While most were displaced to the Shabelle Region, tens of thousands have also been displaced further north in the Bay Region and southern areas of Puntland.
Despite the formal adoption of the Cluster Approach in July 2006, its operational implementation in Somalia did not commence in areas other than Bosasso and Somaliland until early 2007. As explained, this was partly because of problems of access and increasing insecurity in parts of the country; the unpredictability of the situation with all the programming/planning challenges that this entails; and insufficient and inconsistent field staff presence in southern Puntland and South- Central Somalia limiting the overall capacity to effectively implement the Cluster Approach in these areas.
While remote management of operations from Nairobi seems likely to continue given the current security situation in Somalia, increased implementation of the Cluster Approach urgently requires a new common strategic framework for humanitarian intervention for IDPs and others of concern.
The evaluation team found that agencies and NGOs are largely operating according to their separate mandates, with limited coordination; with minimal common needs assessment or mutually agreed priorities, varying target regions, and multiple beneficiaries. A Joint Action Plan establishing agreed target beneficiaries, as well as priorities for protection, humanitarian relief and early recovery activities could significantly strengthen the impact of programme implementation. The UN and nongovernmental partners in the Cluster Approach are also, as a result of their bilateral activity, exposed to risks associated with manipulation by other stakeholders (beneficiaries and local authorities included), duplication of efforts, and dissipation of impact. In a vast country with needs as enormous as Somalia, the implementation of the Cluster Approach demands a united approach in which all partners speak with one voice, in order to enhance the predictability, coordination, accountability and partnership foreseen by the IASC in its guidance on implementing the Cluster Approach.
The following are the general recommendations arising from the consultations with stakeholders during the mission. They are divided in two sets, but are mutually reinforcing. The first set is UNHCR-specific, and the second is systemic - addressing the overall implementation of the Cluster Approach in Somalia.
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