What Is Coordination and Why Do We Need It?

Coordination is a process of sharing information and planning together in pursuit of mutual and agreed upon goals. The aim of coordination for a Camp Management Agency is to ensure efficiency and accountability in the provision of assistance and protection to the camp population. Standards of living in the camp must be maintained, as well as full and equal access to basic human rights for the camp population.

Effective coordination can be challenging to achieve on the ground. This is especially true in situations of conflict and disaster, where there is, by definition, chaos and confusion and where different agendas between stakeholders may undermine cooperation.

Coordination also takes place between camps, at regional and national levels. According to the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) guidance document Working with National Authorities; coordination in identification of internal displacement situations should be chaired by the national authorities. If there is a capacity, resource or access problem, the Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator, the Cluster Lead Agencies and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) may be called upon to coordinate aspects of the response to support the national authorities. In refugee contexts, the camp coordinating role falls under the mandate of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).


Gaps and Duplication Improved Through Coordination

“The complexity of crises today – especially those related to armed conflicts and other situations of violence – and the volume of humanitarian needs are increasing our operational challenges. The diversity of humanitarian agencies, together with the mobilization of all their existing resources, can be of benefit to affected populations. Coordination and cooperation, strengthening needs-based partnerships in the field, where it most counts for the men, women and children affected by conflict and disaster, will go some way to avoiding gaps and duplication in the aid effort”.

Vice-President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), addressing the UN General Assembly, November 11, 2008.


Camp Management Agency staff has to keep in mind that success of the coordination process is underpinned by developing and maintaining transparent and effective partnerships with a diversity of stakeholders, including national authorities, the CCCM Cluster/Sector Lead, service providers, the camp population and the host community.