The Humanitarian Country Team for Somalia (HCT)

The stated objective of the HCT is to ensure that the activities of humanitarian organisations are coordinated, and that humanitarian action in Somalia is principled, timely, effective and efficient, and contributes to longer-term recovery.

The HCT advises the HC and is responsible for agreeing on common strategic issues, advising on priorities for humanitarian action, agreeing on policy advice for humanitarian actors, promoting adherence to humanitarian principles (as set out in the IASC guidelines) and overseeing cluster coordination.

The HCT is meant to be a collaborative body that makes decisions based on consensus amongst its members. Where there is no consensus the HC has the final decision, but should take the views of the majority into account.

In Somalia, the HCT, an inclusive mechanism, is complimented by a meeting of the UN Heads of (humanitarian) agencies, a non-inclusive mechanism. The HCT and the UN Country Team work in parallel. See HCT Somalia Terms of Reference


Composition of the HCT

The HCT is made up of 17 members and two standing invitees. The 17 members are made up of the seven UN agencies with humanitarian activities, six NGO representatives selected from within the NGO community (with at least one national and international NGO), the Director of the Somalia NGO Consortium and two standing invitees (one of whom should be the from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement). The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs - Somalia (UNOCHA) is one of the member UN agencies but also provides secretariat support to the HCT and the HC. Since October 2013, three donors (Sweden, ECHO and DFID) have joined the HCT as full members. Any standing invitee can invite other institutions or individuals to participate in HCT meetings, giving prior notice to UN OCHA


Election to the HCT

NGO members of the HCT are elected for one calendar year (currently the NGO Consortium facilitates this election in cooperation with OCHA). At the end of each year new members are selected from within their constituencies. They must have the capacity to attend meeting and must have shown themselves committed to coordination. The NGO election process also strives to ensure diversity of regions and sectors members work in, as well as of nationality. 

For more on NGO representation on the HCT, please click here.

OCHA Somalia

The OCHA Somalia remit is to mobilise and coordinate humanitarian action in partnership with national and international actors. OCHA supports co-ordination through the Cluster system and through other mechanisms. OCHA is made up of five different units: coordination, information management, public information, funding coordination as well as the administration/finance unit.


The Cluster System

Along with other elements of the humanitarian reform structures, clusters were introduced at the global level in 2005 to improve coordination between groups of humanitarian organisations – both UN and non-UN – working in the same thematic area of humanitarian intervention. Later, country level clusters were introduced for countries where the UN had a Humanitarian Mission.

Clusters are groups of humanitarian organisations (both UN and non-UN) working in the main sectors of humanitarian activity (e.g. shelter, nutrition, health etc.). They are created by the UN when; (a) a clear humanitarian need exists within a given sector, (b) there are numerous different organisations working in the same sector, and (c) national authorities need coordination support. For further information, please refer to the IASC Reference Module for Cluster Coordination at the Country Level.

For Somalia, eight country level clusters have been created:

It is the role of the clusters to provide a clear point of contact and coordinate appropriate humanitarian assistance. Cluster coordination should also support national responsibilities and leadership in the respective sectors. Clusters are designed to create partnerships between international humanitarian actors, national and local authorities, and civil society and are led by cluster chairs.

The cluster chairs work on behalf of the cluster as a whole, facilitating all cluster activities and developing and maintaining a strategic vision and operational response plan. Many of the Somalia Clusters are jointly chaired by a UN agency and an NGO. Clusters meet regularly (monthly in most cases).


The Cluster System in Puntland

In 2010 in Puntland the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation (MoPIC) was appointed the key focal minister for humanitarian coordination. Agencies are also asked to coordinate with line ministries of the respective sectors they work in.

In 2011, the Puntland authorities and the humanitarian community agreed to coordinate the humanitarian response through six clusters: (1) Protection & Shelter, (2) Agriculture & Livelihoods / Food Assistance, (3) Education, (4) WASH, (5) Health and (6) Nutrition.


The Cluster System in Somaliland

In Somaliland the UN Hargeisa Team (UNHT) is based in the Somaliland Sub Office. The UNHT is a sub-body of the UN Country Team. Although the UNHT is focused on development activities in Somaliland, the team's meetings include humanitarian updates.

The Somaliland Inter-cluster Working Group meets regularly with seven out of the eight clusters functioning in the area. They operate in parallel to the sectors, which were defined by the Somaliland Government. In general, within Somaliland, if the ministry responsible for working in a given sector (such as shelter or protection) is calling sector meetings, then cluster members will attend these and not call separate cluster meetings.

All international assistance in Somaliland is accountable to the Ministry of Planning and National Development. All NGOs are compelled to share information with the line ministries of the sectors they work in and to report to the Development Assistance Database (DAD).

Somalia - Humanitarian Coordination Mechanisms Infograph