Global Nutrition Cluster

The cluster approach


The cluster approach was designed to strengthen partnerships to ensure predictability, response capacity, coordination and accountability in key sectors of humanitarian response. Eleven clusters have been identified, including Nutrition Cluster among them.

The clusters are active both at a global level and at country level. The aim of global clusters is to strengthen system-wide preparedness and technical capacity to respond to humanitarian emergencies, through predictable leadership (Cluster Lead Agencies) and accountability in all the main sectors of activity.

At a country level, the aim is to ensure a more coherent and effective response by mobilising groups of agencies to respond in a strategic manner across all key sectors, each sector having a clearly designated lead. Where possible, this should be in line with the lead agency arrangements at the global level.

Guidance Note on Using the Cluster Approach to Strengthen Humanitarian Response [zip file]
This IASC operational guidance includes the actual guidance note on the Cluster Approach, in English, French and Arabic, as well as guidance for new or ongoing emergencies in both English and French.

Operational Guidance on the Concept of 'Provider of Last Resort' [pdf]
This IASC document explains what is meant in the above Guidance Note on the Cluster Approach by term 'Provider of Last Resort' in order to ensure that the humanitarian response is predictable.

Operational Guidance for Cluster Lead Agencies on Working with National Authorities 
This IASC guidance outlines the responsibilities of national authorities during emergencies, coordination mechanisms, principles for coordinating the response and strengthening national response capacities to do so.

Transformative agenda

IASC Principals Transformative Agenda

In 2010, the international humanitarian community reflected upon both the progress made since the introduction of the "humanitarian reform process" in 2005-2006 and the real challenges seen in responding to the Haiti earthquake. Through these discussions, the IASC Principals agreed to an ambitious plan, known as the Transformative Agenda, to address gaps in leadership, coordination and accountability through concrete commitments and measures. Five protocols have now been officially shared in a joint letter by all the Principals relating to Leadership and what Leadership means in practice, system-wide activation, cluster coordination and the Humanitarian Programme Cycle. Guidance on the Inter-Agency Rapid Response Mechanism, the common framework for preparedness and the operational framework for accountability to affected populations are still in development. In their letter, the Principals state that the roll-out of the Transformative Agenda to all relevant field locations will be accelerated in 2013. The IASC website has a section dedicated to the Transformative Agenda with key documents and guidance.

IASC is currently (as of June 2013) revising transformatiove agenda related protocols and documents.

  • A draft revision of the Cluster Coordination Reference Module (significant changes in several of the chapters since the 2012 version) [doc].
  • A draft Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC) Reference Module [doc].

Both of these documents have been developed under the direction of the IASC working groups with input from Global Clusters, and both of the Modules are currently being ‘tested’ by participants in an IASC Integrated L3 Simulation. Further refinements will be made based on the experience of utilization during this simulation . Core Partners and NCCS are also invited to give feedback on the modules.

Below is the current status of each Transformative agenda protocols (as of May 2013).



  • Concept Paper on ‘Empowered Leadership’  [pdf] and What ‘Empowered Leadership’ looks like in practice [pdf];

Endorsed but adjustments to language requested to better reflect the role of the national government.

  • Humanitarian System-Wide Emergency Activation: definition and procedures [pdf];



Endorsed - under revision.

  • Responding to Level 3 Emergencies: The Humanitarian Programme Cycle (Concept) [pdf];
  • Reference Module for Cluster Coordination at the Country Level [pdf]*.

First version endorsed. New revision/update process in progress. See more information below.



  • Reference Module The Humanitarian Programme Cycle

In progress - under revision.

  • Common Framework for Capacity Development for Emergency Preparedness

In progress 

  • Operational Framework for Accountability to Affected Populations

In progress


  • Concept paper on the Inter-Agency Rapid Response Mechanism;

Draft is complete.  Waiting endorsement.

*IASC Cluster Coordination Reference Module
This Module was prepared  by the IASC Sub-Working Group (SWG) on the Cluster Approach - with support from the Global Clusters.  It is composed of nine sections  focused on response to both L3 and non L3 emergencies, covering the critical areas of cluster activation and deactivation; cluster functions and management; minimum commitment for participation in clusters; sub-national and inter-cluster coordination; sharing leadership within the cluster approach; and, monitoring cluster performance.  The module has been produced in response to requests from the field for such guidance.  
This module ia available in English and French.  It will be circulated to the field to all HC countries for a piloting/testing period until December 2012.  In 2013, the Module will be updated based on experience and use of country teams.

The Cluster Approach - How did you make it work?
Workshop report [PDF], Nairobi, Kenya, June 2008

Why Humanitarian reform?



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