|© UNICEF/HQ01-0253/Justin Leighton|
|Two children slap hands in a 'high-five' in support of 'Say Yes for Children', following the international launch of the campaign at St. Marylebone School in London, U.K.|
Emergencies, by nature, are unpredictable. A crucial aspect of the international response, therefore, is how well multiple partners are able to prioritize and coordinate their actions to save lives and alleviate suffering when time is of the essence.
As part of a larger UN reform effort to improve the effectiveness of humanitarian relief, a ‘cluster approach’ was adopted in 2005 to enhance coordination in nine key sectors: nutrition, health, water and sanitation, emergency shelter, camp coordination and management, protection, early recovery, logistics, telecommunications. The Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) for humanitarian assistance appointed individual agencies to lead the clusters. Their task is to clarify the roles, responsibilities and accountability of UN and non-UN partners responding to specific emergencies and to streamline communication with the host government.
In early 2007, an education cluster was endorsed by the IASC, with UNICEF and the Save the Children Alliance appointed as co-lead agencies. A global advisory group includes the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the World Food Programme, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Rescue Committee, the Christian Children’s Fund, and the Inter-Agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE). At the country level, the main cluster partners are the INEE and the respective countries’ ministries of education.
One of the cluster’s first activities is identifying gaps in the global response to education in emergencies in terms of human and financial resources and technical capacity. For example, an acknowledged weakness is the lack of standards in areas that are increasingly recognized as important when launching education programmes in emergencies, such as psychosocial support for children, gender analysis and the physical reconstruction of schools. The education cluster will therefore: