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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2013 Global: Evaluation of UNICEF’s Cluster Lead Agency Role in Humanitarian Action (CLARE)

Executive summary

"With the aim to continuously improve transparency and use of evaluation, UNICEF Evaluation Office manages the "Global Evaluation Reports Oversight System". Within this system, an external independent company reviews and rates all evaluation reports. Please ensure that you check the quality of this evaluation report, whether it is “Outstanding, Best Practice”, “Highly Satisfactory”, “Mostly Satisfactory” or “Unsatisfactory” before using it. You will find the link to the quality rating below, labelled as ‘Part 6’ of the report."


Under the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) cluster approach, UNICEF is the global lead agency for nutrition and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), and with Save the Children, co-lead agency for education. UNICEF is also the focal point agency for the child protection area of responsibility, and with UNFPA, the co-focal point agency for the gender-based violence area of responsibility.

Launched in 2005, the cluster approach aims to address gaps in emergency response and to improve the quality of humanitarian assistance through greater predictability and accountability, and stronger partnership among humanitarian actors.

In emergencies where the cluster approach is applied, UNICEF is requested to lead coordination efforts in certain sectors or areas of responsibility (AORs). At the global level, UNICEF has the responsibility for establishing broad partnerships, and thereby promoting greater accountability for cluster results.


The objective of the evaluation was to assess, as systematically and objectively as possible, the performance of UNICEF as a Cluster Lead Agency (CLA) and AOR focal point at global and country levels.


The evaluation followed a rigorous methodology to collect and analyse data. Questions were designed to assess criteria related to relevance and appropriateness, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence, coverage and sustainability. Eight country case studies were selected to cover a diversity of capacity levels and operating contexts including: Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Haiti, Nepal, the Philippines, South Sudan, the State of Palestine and Tajikistan. The findings and recommendations seek to enhance learning by drawing lessons, identifying opportunities and providing information for UNICEF to improve its capacities, systems and approaches for exercising its CLA role at the country and global levels.

Findings and Conclusions:

Overall, the evaluation found evidence that UNICEF has invested significantly in implementing its CLA role since the IASC cluster system was set up and is increasingly implementing its CLA roles well.

The evaluation concluded, however, that UNICEF’s ability to carry out its CLA role well is limited because it is undertaking its activities in more situations and over a prolonged period of time above and beyond the role that activated clusters are designed to play. This cluster “mission creep” stretches resources by spreading efforts and resources over more countries; there are no clear, established priorities that are based on risk; and this limits the ability of global clusters to provide high-quality support.

This cluster “mission creep” is driven by internal and external stakeholders, including donors and national governments, with competing interests, and contextual factors such as gaps in non-cluster systems for preparedness and sectoral development coordination. While a significant amount of cluster “mission creep” is linked to how the overarching system has employed clusters, UNICEF’s own lack of consistency in advocating for cluster rationalization at country level is also a factor.


R1: Develop a “cluster-ready” initiative to increase country office preparedness for cluster activation in high-risk countries.
R2: Strengthen UNICEF-wide management systems to support the CLA role, including strengthening the role of regional offices and better connecting country representatives to a global CLA strategic management structure.
R3: Develop an integrated strategy for human resources surge capacity and UNICEF coordination staff development.
R4: Increase coherence (interpretation and articulation) and then fidelity (understanding and consistent application) through UNICEF CLA policy and practice.
R5: Mitigate the use of clusters in inappropriate scenarios by developing models and tools for non-cluster coordination, including transition points for country offices, and establish clarity on the role of clusters, if any, for national capacity-building to ensure efficient and fit-for-purpose coordination approaches.

You will find the CLARE report below labeled as follows, and herewith is the Evaluation Brief:

  • Full Report - "Report"
  • Executive Summary [English] - "Part 2"
  • Executive Summary [French] - "Part 3"
  • Executive Summary [Spanish] - "Part 4"
  • Annexes - "Part 5"
  • GEROS quality review - "Part 6"

Full report in PDF

PDF files require Acrobat Reader.



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