Cluster Coordination for Early Recovery

Early Recovery provides a unique opportunity for humanitarian and development actors to work together as early as possible in support of nationally - led recovery efforts.


Early Recovery coordination can be seen as an interface between the two communities, addressing the humanitarian-development divide by bridging the gap between humanitarian intervention and longer-term recovery.


Depending on the scale and complexity of the early recovery situation, an Early Recovery Cluster Coordinator can be deployed to support the facilitation of a cluster covering the areas of early recovery not covered by the other clusters. The key role of the CCfER is to ensure coordination and focus on areas where early recovery interventions can help build the basis for longer-term recovery. It is intended to serve the following purposes:

  • Ensure accountability, leadership and clearly defined roles and responsibilities
  • Coordinate effective early recovery planning on behalf of the Humanitarian Country Team, in close consultation with national counterparts;
  • Strengthen the coordination framework and response capacity by mobilizing response in specific areas of activity;
  • Fill identified recovery gaps in the humanitarian phase (possibly through the establishment of a designated cluster or network for early recovery);
  • Strengthen the involvement of national and local institutions;
  • Ensure that humanitarian responses consider recovery issues and do no harm to longer-term recovery opportunities. To fulfill these aims, the following practical tasks should be carried out:
  • Assess and analyze sectoral needs, using appropriate methodology;
  • Assess international and national capacities and capacity-building priorities for recovery;
  • Contribute to the design of a strategic framework for early recovery, contextualizing the early recovery needs and setting out the key priority focus areas for a comprehensive approach to early recovery;
  • Develop an early recovery response plan, detailing the implementation of early recovery interventions;
  • Identify capacities of cluster participants and other relevant actors and strengthen them where necessary;
  • Ensure appropriate delegation and follow-up on commitments from cluster participants;
  • Interact with other cluster leaders to ensure synergies on Early Recovery and the integration of crosscutting issues;
  • Work with the national authorities, the Humanitarian Country Team and donors to mobilize the necessary resources for an adequate and appropriate response to early recovery needs;
  • Sustain mechanisms for assessment of cluster performance;
  • Derive lessons learned from review of activities, and revise strategies and action plans accordingly; and
  • Ensure that hand-over/exit strategies are developed and implemented.  


What is the difference between an Early Recovery Advisor and a Cluster Coordinator?


It is important to distinguish the role of the ERA and CCfER. ERAs are the representation of the GCER in crisisaffected countries and are the backbone of the work related to coordination support, providing advisory services to the HC, development of durable solutions strategies as required, managing and creating an evidence-base of information for decision-making, supporting the humanitarian-development nexus, and much more. In addition to the advisory support provided by an ERA to the HC/ RC and the humanitarian system, the HC/RC may require additional coordination support for issues not covered by any of the other clusters that have been activated in-country. A separate cluster may be established by the Humanitarian Country Team in a country affected by a crisis, which is related to early recovery. The CCfER establishes and maintains an effective cluster coordination mechanism, ensures the members of the cluster engage with national authorities and government counterparts and leads the cluster members in inter-agency processes. 


Early Recovery Advisor

The key role of the Early Recovery Advisor (ERA) is to ensure that an early recovery approach is integrated into the humanitarian response. The main mechanism for this is the “advice” that is provided to the HC/RC in their lead role in coordinating the inter-agency early recovery work across all clusters. The ERA typically is based in the UNDP country/field office in-country but reports to the HC/RC. The ERA will work across the entire humanitarian community, which will include engaging with all clusters (or as many as possible) as well as building alliances to support early recovery. This is in close collaboration and consultation with the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG).


The ERA needs to be engaged with all clusters and as many humanitarian actors as possible to encourage their individual activities to include early recovery.


In most contexts the ERA will also be required to leverage the potential for development actors and private sector to contribute to addressing a crisis. This means the humanitarian response should take into consideration the longer term objectives of a country that has been affected by a crisis and is receiving international humanitarian assistance.


The ERA is astutely aware of the following four core knowledge competencies and their respective programmes in implementing his/her work:


  1. People Centered Approach
  2. Humanitarian Response
  3. Recovery Programming
  4. Transition Planning


Cluster Coordinator for Early Recovery

The key role of the Cluster Coordinator for Early Recovery (CCfER) is to “enable” cluster partners to be more effective by working together in accordance with the principles of partnership than they could be individually. The CCfER provides accountable leadership and works on behalf of the cluster as a whole, facilitating all cluster activities and maintaining a strategic vision. He/she also ensures coordination regarding the areas covered, e.g. governance, infrastructure and livelihoods, with other clusters in relation to inter-cluster activities and crosscutting (People Centered approach) issues. The CCfER is based in the UNDP country/field office in-country and reports to the Country Director/Resident Representative or their Deputy (Programme).

The CCfER also has a duty, to all partners within the Clusters, to act as a representative of the cluster as a whole rather than solely as a representative of UNDP. The CCfER is responsible for the development of the Cluster’s action plans and monitoring their implementation. The CCfER ensures that the action plans are coherent with the priorities outlined in the overall early recovery strategic framework developed by the ER network with the support of the Early Recovery Advisor. The CCfER is astutely aware of the following four core knowledge competencies and their respective programmes in implementing his/her work; Livelihoods, Governance, Basic Infrastructure Repairs and Rehabilitation, Capacity-Building – Investing in People. 

Photo Credit : Philippines skills training

Comparative roles: ERAs and CCfERs