Key Issues

Recruiting, Training and Supervising Staff


Camp Management Agency Staff

A Camp Management Agency can only take on the above listed responsibilities if the right staff are on board. It is thus vital to pay attention to the recruitment process, and invest in staff training. Each camp setting will require a different staff composition or organisational structure. An agency’s core staff and their capacity will determine much of the effectiveness of daily operations. In most settings there will be a diversity of tasks and a variety of professional backgrounds required. Expertise in information management, construction, water and sanitation, community mobilisation or training may all be required. It is important to ensure that the gender balance within the team broadly reflects the ratio of men and women within the camp population, and that marginalised groups are represented in the team, if possible. It is also vital to employ staff with sufficient maturity and experience to manage challenging situations and confidential information with sensitivity and sound judgement.

Key Staff Proficiencies Include:

  • willingness and ability to assume responsibility
  • an open and inclusive approach
  • an ability to prioritise and plan
  • communication and coordination aptitudes
  • the ability to manage conflict and reach and build consensus
  • innovation, flexibility and a solution-oriented approach
  • a positive and proactive approach to community mobilisation and participation
  • the ability to rapidly adapt and deal with unpredictable challenges in a perpetually changing environment.

Staff of a Camp Management Agency may, depending on the specific context, also have a deeper technical understanding of different sectors of a camp, such as water and sanitation (WASH), education or others. This will also depend on the specifics on the availability, quality and ­capacity of the ­service providers.


Respect Is Key to Successful Relationships

All staff working in a camp must strive to establish good and respectful relationships with the camp population. This is done by listening and responding to people’s needs for assistance and protection in a dignified, impartial and transparent manner.



The staff of a Camp Management Agency must know how the roles and responsibilities of the agency are exercised as well as the values and principles associated with the role. Neutrality, impartiality, transparency, confidentiality and humanity are of utmost importance. Staff must be carefully selected as according to both qualifications and their affiliations with people in the camp.

Generally, there are three different groups a Camp Management Agency can recruit staff from, other than project management staff: the host community, other nationals including people from neighbouring countries and the camp population. Whoever is selected a Camp Management Agency should always evaluate the impact of recruitment on the camp population. It might be easier to find qualified staff in urban settings than in remote rural places.


Training should be on-going process and can be undertaken both formally and informally. The Camp Management Agency is responsible for increasing the capacity of camp management staff to perform specific job functions. If needed, the Camp Management Agency can seek support in training of staff from the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency. In addition to issues directly related to camp management dealt with in this Toolkit, camp management staff should also receive training in:

  • coordination and meeting management
  • conflict mediation
  • mandatory codes of conduct
  • interviewing and observation techniques
  • monitoring, reporting and documentation (based on standards such as Sphere or such best practice guidelines as the Camp Management Toolkit)
  • vulnerability categories and persons with specific needs (noting any special assistance that these individuals may qualify for)
  • protection, human rights and gender awareness
  • confidentiality and transparency
  • community mobilisation and participation methods
  • mainstreaming cross-cutting issues.


In order to be able to manage a camp, the staff of a Camp Management Agency must be both appropriately trained and supervised. In addition to knowing their roles and responsibilities and the rights of the displaced population, staff members also have to communicate and practice sound attitudes, referred to as key staff proficiencies above, and knowledge about how to perform its tasks.

Clear terms of references and work plans for all positions must be established, and mutual expectations between supervisor and staff should be clarified, also when working with camp volunteers. Supervision can happen in several ways including, but not limited to:

  • demonstration through ‘on the job’ training
  • mentoring (working in pairs of experienced and new staff)
  • regular team meetings
  • regular individual feedback sessions on a specific issue
  • periodic performance appraisals
  • written reports.

The purpose of supervision is to ensure that the roles and responsibilities of a Camp Management Agency are performed in such a way that the needs and rights of the displaced population always are responded to and protected.

Codes of Conduct

Codes of conduct can be agency-specific, be developed specifically for one camp or the agency may refer to the Code of Conduct of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement and NGOs in Disaster Response. This sets out standards for ethical behaviour among camp staff and seeks to promote greater accountability and transparency for all agencies working in a camp setting. Each staff member and volunteer should have the applicable code of conduct explained to them and be required to sign a copy upon commencement of employment. It is essential that both training and codes of conduct are translated as appropriate, and are available in the language(s) that camp management staff as well as the camp population can easily understand. Where a translator is used, it is important to make sure that the translation is accurate, communicated and understood. 

To encourage proper treatment of refugees and IDPs, training or camp-wide sensitisation on the Camp Management Agency’s code of conduct should minimally cover:

  • humanitarian principles
  • confidential reporting procedures
  • complaints and investigative mechanisms
  • actions that will be taken if any member of staff violates the code.

Each camp will require an appropriate reporting structure and procedures which include clear focal points to refer to if needed.

Measures to ensure confidentiality of reports need to be balanced with encouraging camp residents to come forward and report abusive behaviour by community leaders or Camp Management Agency staff.


Stop Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Our Own Staff!

In 2011, the Inter-Agency Standing Committee’s Task Force on Protection from Sexual Exploitation and Abuse by Our Own Staff (PSEA) set up a website to explore this subject more in depth: Available in English, French, Arabic, and Spanish, it provides staff with relevant information to inform them of their obligations and responsibilities with regard to protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. The site also provides PSEA focal points with a checklist and key documents to assist them in carrying out their responsibilities.


Coordinating and Monitoring Assistance and Service Provision

The Camp Management Agency, in close collaboration with camp residents, the Camp Administration, the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency and service providers, is in charge of making sure that efficient coordination mechanisms and monitoring systems are in place, both for the whole camp and different sectors or working groups. This is essential to:

  • ensure gaps in assistance are filled
  • avoid duplication of activities
  • ensure equitable provision and access to services
  • ensure that agreed upon standards are respected by all service providers.


Coordination of Meetings

The main responsibility of a Camp Management Agency is to organise, chair and follow up on camp coordination meetings. In emergency situations it might be necessary to hold a brief coordination meeting every day. In more stable settings once a week or biweekly will often be enough. In addition to the regular weekly/biweekly coordination meetings in the camp chaired by the Camp Management Agency, there should be regular sector specific meetings chaired by sector specific agencies. The purpose of the sector specific meetings is to deal with issues that are too detailed and specialised for the general coordination meeting and to feed upwards information and decisions of importance for the general coordination of the camp.


The capacity of the camp management staff to facilitate these types of meetings is crucial to ensure effective coordination. To facilitate meetings staff need to be able to clearly communicate, encourage participation, stick to the agenda, seek commitments, close discussions, respect everyone’s opinion, listen actively, summarise the meeting and follow up on action points.

To ensure good working relationships amid a stressful and uncertain climate often characterised by differences of opinion between agencies, it is important that the Camp Management Agency liaises with all other agencies working in the camp and establishes and maintains harmonious relations. A Camp Management Agency should always take an inclusive approach and see their role as a trust-builder.

At the same time it should hold agencies accountable for programmes, including the failure to show up for coordination meetings or declining to share essential information which may impact other’s programmes in the camp. This is important to gain legitimacy with the camp population and to protect their rights.


Communicate Clearly Who Is Doing What?

An organisation in charge of camp management might also be in charge of service provision in sectors such as shelter, WASH or education. To ensure that camp residents are aware of who is in charge of what within the organisation, it is necessary that this is clearly communicated, for example on a camp notice board.


☞ For more information on coordination and information management, see Chapter 4, Coordination and Chapter 5, Information Management.

Monitoring and coordination aim to uphold standards and hold agencies accountable for provision of services and assistance. Where performance levels are poor, and quality or quantity is inadequate, the Camp Management Agency, with the support of the Sector/Cluster Lead Agency as appropriate, has a duty to advocate strongly for conformity to agreed standards and guaranteed delivery of minimal levels of assistance.

Monitoring of all sectors operating within the camp should take place continuously. The Camp Management Agency’s monitoring of services provided by other agencies should not detract from their own responsibilities to monitor how people can access their projects and the progress and efficiency of their services. By carrying out monitoring across sectors, the Camp Management Agency is able to get an overview of the standards in the camp, a holistic understanding of daily life and awareness of the provision of assistance and protection. This is especially important as camp services and assistance programmes do not operate in isolation.

Often projects impact directly and indirectly on each other, often with positive consequences, but sometimes with unintended or negative results. Working to raise the standard of living in the camp necessitates an overarching understanding of the overall quality of life for the camp population. It is part of a Camp Management Agency’s responsibility to understand the impact that projects have, not only in themselves, but as part of a whole camp response.

Monitoring Improves Service Delivery

Monitoring is essential to support any individual’s protection. All camp residents should benefit, most crucially those with specific needs, who are often the first to be deprived of access to goods and services in times when these are scarce.


Recruitment of Monitors

Monitoring work in a camp may sometimes require a significant number of monitors. Monitors can be recruited and trained from among the displaced community and the host community, if the situation permits. Considerations about confidentiality and impartiality must be weighed against the advantages of recruiting people from the camp population and surroundings who know locally used languages, the population, and who live close to the workplace.


Formalising Roles and Responsibilities With Service Providing Agencies

Identifying and formalising roles and responsibilities between agencies providing services in the camp is crucial to addressing gaps and to avoiding misunderstandings and duplication. If a Camp Management Agency takes the lead in clarifying roles and responsibilities it will very likely also enhance its legitimacy. Formalised written agreements on who does what, when, where and how, even simply stated, will improve coordination and serve as an advocacy tool when services are below standard. Camp Management Agencies should have copies of agency agreements and work plans for all partners operating in the camp. Drawing up a simple inter-agency agreement or Memorandum of Understanding can also assist in formalising the sharing of resources and stipulating entitlement to services provided by programmes within the camp.

Reporting to and Coordinating With Cluster/ Sector Lead Agency

A Camp Management Agency needs to coordinate very closely with the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency. In general, as stated in Chapter 1, the CCCM Cluster/Sector Lead seeks to ensure humanitarian space necessary for the effective delivery of protection and assistance to the displaced populations. This role further entails:

  • coordinating between camps and with partners at a regional/ national level
  • applying international humanitarian standards in camp management
  • monitoring and reporting on the impact of all the displacement in the region
  • advocating for resource mobilisation to the Humanitarian Coordinator and participate in national humanitarian funding appeals
  • training and building capacity of national and regional actors including the Camp Management Agency
  • coordinating the development of the overarching regional/ national camp strategy and contingency planning.


Vertical and Horizontal Accountability

During humanitarian emergencies and following recovery there may be a lack of accountability. This stems from lack of communication or lack of information at various levels such as between the humanitarian community and donors, between clusters, between national and provincial level actors or between service providers and displaced or host communities.

A two way relationship is important vertically between the humanitarian community at the strategic level (i.e. donors, inter-cluster forum and the national authorities) and between the Camp Management Agency, displaced and host communities, service providers, field level clusters and relevant authorities at operational level. Key horizontal relationships between the camp stakeholders at this level are important to ensure that the flow of information and feedback is bi-directional.

The Camp Management Agency has a crucial role ensuring that information from the strategic level can shed light on what assistance is available (when, where and in what quantity) and what are the long term plans at the camp level. It can also advocate that feedback from the operational level should address information gaps, the legitimate concerns of affected populations while ensuring the accountability of aid providers and empowering camp populations.


Working With Integrated Missions

Increasingly, United Nations (UN) peacekeeping and peace-building missions are deployed to areas of on-going conflicts and to post-conflict settings. In an integrated mission a Special Representative of the Secretary-General has responsibility for all the elements of the mission – political, military and humanitarian. Mandates for integrated missions can range from immediate stabilisation, protection of civilians and support for humanitarian assistance, to assisting in the development of new political structures and disarming, demobilising and reintegrating former combatants. The integrated mission approach seeks to bring together the individual components of the UN system so as to cohesively achieve political stabilisation and promote recovery.

What Is UN-CMCoord?

“United Nations Humanitarian Civil-Military Coordination (UN-CMCoord) facilitates dialogue and interaction between civilian and military actors, essential to protect and promote humanitarian principles, avoid competition, minimise inconsistency and, when appropriate, pursue common goals.

UN-CMCoord is a framework that enhances a broad understanding of humanitarian action and guides political and military actors on how best to support that action.”



“Civil-Military Coordination (CIMIC) provides the interface between the military component of a peace operation and the political, humanitarian, developmental, human rights and rule-of-law dimensions of the same operation, as well as others in the larger peace-building system. It is a crucial function of any complex peace operation because it is central to the mission achieving a system-wide impact on the conflict it is attempting to transform.”

UN Civil-Military-Cooperation, Peace Operations Training Institute, 2012.


While the integrated mission approach is a constructive attempt to address shortcomings in UN interventions, it may pose ethical and/or operational challenges for a Camp Management Agency or other humanitarian agencies. When the mission includes military forces from the UN or international bodies – such as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) or the African Union – the array of objectives pursued by integrated missions can lead to confusion and, at times, contradiction between the actions of agencies.

Arrangements between the military and humanitarian elements of an integrated mission may mean that the impartiality of humanitarian assistance is sometimes viewed as tainted because of the support given to one particular ethnic group or political fraction. The issue is then one of ensuring humanitarian space that allows non-military, apolitical actors to reach and assist displaced populations.

Integrated missions can offer some advantages for Camp Management Agencies. UN missions usually have considerable monetary and logistical resources that can be mobilised to address specific needs within camps. Access to these, however, often requires many administrative formalities.


Voice From the Field - Integrated Mission Support in Post-conflict Liberia

In July 2003, after the former president's departure from Liberia the UN became comprehensively engaged. Two agencies initiated a programme to phase out the camps in the capital, Monrovia, in which an estimated 310,000 IDPs were living. The 2004–2005 Camp Phase Down strategy was closely linked to an organised and spontaneous return process. Return policy and operations were organised by a joint planning team for IDP return which was initially led by a third agency managing the return process. The United Nations Integrated Mission provided political support for the camp phase-out and return process, but offered little in terms of material or operational support.

Given the scale of displacement and the numbers of IDPs requiring return assistance, the return process was significantly under-funded. Despite having the logistical capacity to provide trucks, and despite repeated requests, the integrated mission did not provide vehicles. This forced the agencies supporting return to make other inadequate arrangements. Despite the availability of vast resources, there was a lack of political will to deploy resources for humanitarian operations.

By contrast, however, the integrated mission greatly assisted camp management and camp phase-out efforts. The mission used its network of radio stations and print media outlets to assist with an information campaign on camp closure and return plans. This assistance proved invaluable. Without the integrated mission approach agencies working on return and registration and their partners would not have been able to inform IDPs.


A Collective Centre Management Model

  Actor Tasks Pros Cons
Enhanced Scope Mobile Collective Centre Management Team Collective Centre Manager forms mobile teams that cover a number of collective centres in a specified area and perform all relevant tasks through regular visits (one per week, minimum)

Small number of Collective Centre Managers 

Can use experienced Collective Centre Managers


Lacks sustainability

Decentralisation Local government structures Depending on the specific national context, decentralised or centralised government structures may assume the role of Collective Centre Manager

Key duty bearer in charge 

Local knowledge 


Risk of lack of capacity and commitment
Displaced population associations Especially in medium- and long-term displacement situations, displaced population associations or collective centre residents themselves may form a unit that assumes the role of Collective Centre Manager

Strong ownership



Risk of lack of capacity 

Outreach maybe limited

Local NGO or community based organisation In areas with a concentration of collective centers, a local NGO or community-based organisation may assume the role of Collective Centre Manager

Local knowledge 


Risk of lack of capacity 

Risk of lack of sustainability 

Numerous actors

Self-organisation Collective centre residents form a unit which is able to perform key tasks of Collective Center Manager

Strong ownership 


Risk of lack of capacity 

Numerous actors

Source: Collective Centre Guidelines, UNHCR/IOM 2011


Setting Up Governance and Community Participation Mechanisms

Participation of Camp Populations

Experience has shown that creating a well-functioning camp environment depends on the participation of the camp population. A commitment to participation, a belief in its value and a resourceful and positive approach are important for Camp Management Agency staff. Participation and mobilisation can take many forms. Some ways of engaging the camp population include:

  • holding leadership elections to elect camp leaders and representatives 
  • ensuring the representation and involvement of groups with specific needs and those at heightened risk 
  • having formal meetings and dialogue with both traditional and/or religious and elected leaders 
  • establishing informal contacts within the camp 
  • developing camp committees whose members are representative of the camp population, with a specific technical or cross-cutting sector focus: these may include a WASH committee or those representing older people and women 
  • engaging members of the camp population as volunteers in specific tasks/projects which use and/or develop their skills 
  •  ensuring that feedback procedures and referral and complaints mechanisms are in place 
  • encouraging initiatives that empower camp populations to make changes within their environment 
  • ensuring the organisation of forums where camp populations receive information and are listened to 
  • offering employment to camp residents, such as cash-for-work initiatives 
  • encouraging community participation through such groups as neighbourhood watch schemes, care groups for persons with specific needs and recreation groups.

☞ For more information on participation of the camp population, see Chapter 3, Community Participation.

☞ For more information on working with persons with specific needs, see Chapter 11, Protection of Persons with Specific Needs.

Community Leaders and Representatives

In some cases, it may require a special effort by the Camp Management Agency to find a balance between respecting traditional or self-organised leadership structure, and ensuring equitable representation of all groups within the camp.

Firstly, it is important to recognise how leaders have been identified:

  • Did the population maintain their traditional leadership structures? 
  • Is the population now self-organising? 
  • How is it promoting certain people as leaders? 
  • Are those with apparent power simply presenting themselves to the communities and camp agencies as leaders? 
  • Is the leadership militarised?

Secondly, the Camp Management Agency has to determine the extent to which the leadership structure is representative and working in the interests of the whole camp population.
This requires speaking with different members of the community as much as possible and trying to get a holistic picture of intentions, capacities and gaps.

Unless there is no structure at all or deep dissatisfaction with the leadership by the community, it is generally advisable to assist the community to self-organise or work with whatever structures are in place. Gaps with regards to representation and equitability in the system should be addressed through complementary mechanisms, not by ignoring or bypassing the existing one. For example, if the Camp Management Agency finds women's representation to be lacking it may be able to encourage a male and female leader for each constituency or area. However, care must be taken that this would not be just a hollow exercise in which the women still have no real voice. A more effective method may be to support a network of women's groups which then have a single voice at the highest levels. Minority groups should also be assured equal representation.

In working with the community to design and set up camp governance structures, the Camp Management Agency needs to be aware of how leaders are selected; and not advocate for artificial or culturally inappropriate procedures. Equally, community leaders and representatives need to be given clear functions and written, agreed terms of reference. Humanitarian workers should respect and act on any fears the community may have of corruption and clientelism. They should ensure transparency and openness in all processes to avoid suspicions and temptations to abuse positions. Codes of conduct for leaders and group members should be agreed. Transparent terms of reference, confidential complaints mechanisms, removal procedures and mechanisms to ensure rotations of membership, are all issues to be considered in order to establish effective governance and participation.


Under stable camp conditions, establishing guidelines governing the use of public facilities can be one method to discourage the misuse of common camp facilities and prevent possible tensions. Such guidelines should be the result of genuine cooperation between all stakeholders, especially involving the camp population.


Voice From the Field - Camp Committees and Politics in Iraq

In the initial phase of our camp management intervention, we noted there were several active political factions in the camp. Therefore, community mobilisation has at times been met with suspicion and concern that empowering communities through committee formations could lead to political leverage by different political parties operating in the camp. This is something that the government, for security reasons, hoped to avoid. In response, we entered into vigorous dialogue with both the government and community to ensure the intentions of community mobilisation were clarified. This was a long process, during which we concentrated our community mobilisation activities on working with what we call Community Protection Committees (CPCs). Their work was a critical part of having communities identify and address their own needs. They provided capacity for the refugee community to more effectively advocate for improvements in the protective nature of the camp. The engagement of the refugee community in a meaningful way was a fundamental aspect of our protection strategy.


Ensuring the Care and Maintenance of Infrastructure

Maintenance of Camp Infrastructure

Ensuring the maintenance of camp infrastructure such as roads and distribution sites is typically the responsibility of the Camp Management Agency. The Camp Management Agency may undertake the work themselves, or coordinate it with other service providers, depending on factors including budgets and capacity. Where there are temporary emergency facilities on site, for example while families are constructing their houses, the upkeep of latrines and bathing facilities can fall to a Camp Management Agency. Community systems for garbage and waste treatment and removal can be shared with the WASH Cluster Lead Agency, while in urban settings the local authorities may be responsible.

Creative ideas for maintaining camp facilities, such as latrines located at clinic, schools and market places, can be initiated by special camp committees.


Voice From the Field - Collaborating With a Local Council

In post-tsunami Sri Lanka, there was a project to work with local authorities to upgrade latrines in transitional sites. It was a challenge to ensure latrines were regularly emptied, a task for which the municipal council had limited capacity. The solution was a joint venture whereby the Camp Management Agency funded a private gully sucker – a vehicle equipped with a pump – to promptly clear a backlog while simultaneously advocating for government support. With the most urgent needs attended to through a private contractor, the local council was able to gradually take over and make longer-term and more sustainable arrangements.


Environmental Protection

Environmental concerns are a feature of every camp and need to be taken into account from the moment a site is being selected to after it has been responsibly closed. Early preparation, sound planning and good coordination between all stakeholders, from the affected communities to national authorities, should start at the very beginning of camp operations. Soil erosion and the loss of natural vegetation cover are some of the most common and visible environmental impacts. Others, such as ground water pollution and soil contamination, might be less visible but are equally important. The nature and scale of these concerns will vary according to the physical location and nature of the operation.

Environment protection issues within and around the camp should be coordinated with the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency, national authorities and the host community.


Close Collaboration With Camp Population

An environmental management plan made together with camp population/committees (or, where available, village-based environmental groups), can identify priority areas to be addressed.


☞ For more information on the environment, see Chapter 6, Environment.


Managing Information


In most contexts the management of information is closely linked to the registration of a camp population. Registration allows a Camp Management Agency to obtain baseline information on the characteristics of a population. This can inform the quality and effectiveness of protection and assistance programmes. Depending on the context, what is registered may include name, age, gender, family size, vulnerability, place of origin, ethnicity, language skills and education.

Registration, when followed up by sensible use of data, tailored programmes responses and implementation can:

  • reduce vulnerability and risks of exploitation 
  • ensure all camp residents’ access to basic rights and services while lessening risks of duplication 
  • identify which groups and individuals in the camp population are in need of special assistance or protection 
  • enable humanitarian agencies to monitor the movement of the displaced population, both those leaving the camp and new arrivals.

Registering people, including women, unaccompanied and separated children can reduce vulnerability, increase access to assistance and diminish incidents of exploitation. While registration in IDP camps will often be done by the Camp Management Agency, in refugee camps it falls to UNHCR.

☞ For specific guidance on setting up registration systems, see Chapter 9, Registration and Profiling.


One Single Registration System

In order to avoid multiple registrations a single registration system should be established and agreed by all actors. Sector-specific lists and figures kept by service providers should be harmonised into a central camp database.


Other Information

In addition to information collected through registration, information is also collected through the different agencies’ programme specific assessments. These may include multi-sectoral assessments by multiple partners such as the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR’s Age, Gender, Diversity Mainstreaming (AGDM) approach. Also important are programme specific surveys and general observations by staff working in camps.

All information should be shared with stakeholders in the weekly/biweekly coordination meetings and in sector specific meetings, when timely and relevant, to ensure that agreements and decisions are based on recent and up-to-date information from the camp.

Identification of Persons With Specific Needs

Displaced populations rarely constitute homogeneous groups. Variations in gender, ethnic origin, physical ability, political affiliations, religion and age can all affect vulnerability and coping strategies during displacement. Properly identifying the needs and impact of the disadvantages faced by groups with specific needs and those at heightened risk, is a major challenge for a Camp Management Agency in order to prevent their situation from deteriorating even further.


Higher Risks for Persons With Specific Needs

Women and children are at higher risk of sexual violence and exploitation and often face more difficulties than others when traditional ways of living and support systems are disrupted. People living with HIV/AIDS may be stigmatised, leading to even greater disadvantages in a camp setting.


The list of individuals or groups with specific needs and those at heightened risks are context specific, but common categories are:

  • unaccompanied and separated children 
  • orphans 
  • children formerly associated with armed forces or groups 
  • children heads of household 
  • out-of-school and unemployed youth 
  • youth formerly associated with armed forces or groups 
  • women heads of households, including widows 
  • women without male support 
  • women formerly associated with armed forces or groups 
  • women survivors of gender-based violence (GBV) 
  • older persons without family or community support 
  • grandparent-headed households 
  • sick persons without family or community support 
  • persons with physical disabilities 
  • persons with mental disabilities 
  • persons living with, or at risk of HIV/AIDS 
  • survivors of torture 
  • ethnic and national minorities 
  • religious minorities 
  • linguistic minorities 
  • nomadic/pastoralist groups 
  • lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex individuals 
  • disenfranchised youth/men 
  • male survivors of sexual violence.

☞ For information on persons with specific needs, see Chapter 11, Protection of Persons with Specific Needs.


The confidentiality of the camp population’s private information must be respected. Routines for systematically backing up and protecting the sensitive data obtained must be in place prior to gathering information. Data security is of particular importance in conflict situations when rival ethnic groups or authorities may have a vested interest in obtaining lists of who has been received into a camp. The sensitive nature of the camp population’s data extends to information on human rights violations, which may be also detectable from registration information. Information on GBV survivors, or on children, who have been separated from their parents or carers should also be treated with great sensitivity.

☞ For information on registration and information management, see Chapter 9, Registration and Profiling and Chapter 5, Information Management.

Protection Monitoring and Reporting Critical Incidents

The task of managing information can also be associated with tracking protection-related incidents. This is an extremely sensitive task that must always be accompanied by extensive staff training from a specialised protection agency. Protection information can be used to improve either the humanitarian or security situation. The impact and effectiveness of protection monitoring in camps is dependent, to a large degree, on the availability of response capacities within the local society and administration or among the humanitarian community. Responding to protection incidents falls to the mandated protection agencies. In refugee settings this responsibility is always led by the UN Refugee Agency.

When a Camp Management Agency undertakes protection monitoring work there must be both clarity and capacity to ensure that the task is undertaken responsibly. This involves clear understanding of:

  • the agency’s mandate 
  • the role of the government in protection monitoring 
  • the specific situation, the actors involved and their protection related agendas and capacities 
  • the sensitivity of the information and the harm that can potentially be done 
  • what data/information is specifically required and why 
  • the need to train staff 
  • the accountability to the camp population in terms of response capacity: what feedback can they expect? 
  • the mechanism that refer cases identified during the protection monitoring to specialised actors 
  • the reporting and information that will be shared with relevant stakeholders 
  • the possible consequences of collecting data on the abuse of human rights and other protection issues 
  • the possible consequences of not collecting data on these issues.

This will enable a Camp Management Agency to carry out protection monitoring work, knowing why it is being done, what response capacity is in place, what the camp population can expect and should be informed about, and what security and confidentiality procedures must be followed to ensure compliance with Do No Harm principle.

Do No Harm

The Camp Management Agency and other actors working in the camp should carefully consider whether any assistance programme or advocacy activity can put the camp and host populations or others at risk of security threats, deprivation of basic services and/or compromise their dignity and integrity. The protection, dignity and integrity of displaced persons should be at the centre of all assistance programmes.


Consequences of Humanitarian Interventions

The Do No Harm principle requires humanitarian agencies to reflect upon the consequences, both intended and unintended, of their interventions. It seeks to identify the ways in which international humanitarian and/or development assistance given in conflict and disaster settings may, rather than worsening conflict and divisions, help those involved to disengage from fighting and develop systems for settling the issues which underpin conflict. The project urges humanitarian workers to address the complexities of providing assistance in conflict situations – to achieve clarity and minimise the risk of harm for the societies where assistance is provided. The Do No Harm principle can assist the Camp Management Agency and the other stakeholders working in the camp to understand the complex relationship between conflict, the camp and the humanitarian assistance being offered.


Building Trust

Obtaining accurate information on what are often personal and highly sensitive, or culturally taboo, protection issues can be very challenging. Not least it involves the establishment of trust between Camp Management Agency staff and the population. For example, when interviewing women, the use of well-trained female staff and small, confidential and consistent focus groups, might be required to build trust over time and to yield accurate information.


☞ For more information on focus groups, see Chapter 3, Community Participation.


Voice From the Field - Camp Monitoring in a Sudanese IDP Camp

Camp management staff collecting information had been trained, were well-known to residents and were regularly seen moving about the camp. The topics about which they gathered information changed, often as a result of seasonal changes. In the rainy season they collected information on cholera and flooding of shelters when it was important to quickly contact relevant agencies to fix a broken water pump, register new arrivals or distribute sand to an area that was flooded. They helped to defuse seemingly small local issues which could have rapidly escalated and had camp-wide security and well-being implications.


☞ For more information on protection, see Chapter 8, Protection.


Disseminating Information

Access to information is a basic human right. Everyone needs and wants to feel they are informed about the situations surrounding their lives, be they security issues, the whereabouts of family or friends, current debates and opinions, prospects for the future or opportunities for making choices or decisions. In situations where a crisis has interrupted the lives of the displaced population, an information vacuum often develops. Unfortunately, in the absence of information it is common to find rumours or deliberate spread of misinformation.


Information Can Save Life

“People need information as much as water, food, medicine or shelter. Information can save lives, livelihoods and resources. Information bestows power". Secretary General of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), World Disaster Report, 2005.

Information Is Power

“In practical terms information is power – and the more information is shared with refugees about issues of concern to them, the more involved, engaged and empowered they will be. Accurate up-todate information will assist them to make informed choices and decisions. Sharing information with the refugee community demonstrates trust, openness and respect for them and their ability to make sound decisions on the basis of the information presented. ” UNHCR, Operational Protection in Camps and ­Settlements, Specific Protection Issues.


To ensure that information is received and understood by women, men, girls and boys a variety of strategies need to be used. It is important to:

  • field test information before it is widely circulated in order to understand how to present key messages 
  • realise that use of certain words and body language, can have different impacts on different target groups 
  • utilise a variety of techniques to share key information both formal and informal: holding meetings – which may include house-to-house visits for populations that are not mobile; radio or newspaper announcements; information boards; formal addresses from key persons in the community; employing educated and respected members such as heads of religious communities or teachers as community mobilisers or to hold discussion groups 
  • follow up to ensure messages have been understood and acted upon. This often overlooked step provides an important option

not only to clarify that messages have been understood but also to receive important information around issues under discussion.

☞ For more information on information management, see Chapter 5, Information Management.

The following table gives a good overview of the communication strategies used to disseminate information:

Activity Strengths Challenges
Notice (Bulletin) Boards
  • details of announcements can be listed and referred to
  • information is standard and uniform for all camp residents
  • not everyone who needs to know the information may pass by the notice board or be able to read
Story Boards
  • good with non-literate populations
  • suggestive way of recalling information
Community Meetings
  • simple way to announce and extend question and answer time to all
  • not all members of the camp may be able, welcomed or feel comfortable to come
House Visits
  • able to reach house bound persons
  • time consuming for staff
  • may open up questions that the staff may not be able to answer
  • creative, widely enjoyed
  • can be easily remembered
  • dramatic presentations may lead to misinformation with no opportunity to correct or clarify
Key Leaders
  • likely to be respected
  • may have their own political agenda in sharing the information
Adapting Traditional Stories
  • could be familiar and well loved
  • original conclusion of story may be remembered, rather than the new message
  • easy to remember and entertaining
  • may not be suitable for all subjects (content) 
  • may be too short a method for a long message
Camp Parade/ Rally
  • great at raising awareness of people who may not be immediately interested in town meetings or religious events
  • celebratory in nature
  • no opportunity for questions and answers
Radio Public Service Announcements
  • large outreach capacity
  • accessible by male and female target population
  • cost 
  • need to set up feedback mechanism
Mobile SMS
  • reaches a large group of people
  • inexpensive
  • requires mobile network 
  • only the wealthy may have a phone 
  • literacy rates may not allow for this 
  • phones may be uncharged 
  • need to have a phone number for target audience


Participating in Strategic Planning With Camp Coordination and Camp Administration

Though the focus is on managing a camp a Camp Management Agency and their staff are required to develop an understanding of the broader context of displacement beyond the boundaries and the lifetime of the entity they are in charge of. Together with the Cluster/Sector Lead Agency as well as the Camp Administration/national authorities, the Camp Management Agency should contribute to:

  • contingency planning, including camp evacuation plans, in case of a further worsening of the general crisis 
  • national/regional camp response strategies 
  • exit strategies and camp closure planning should be considered as early in the process as possible 
  • enabling the camp population to find a durable solution after displacement since camps can provide shelter and safety for a limited time and should only be used as a last resort.