Guide to NGO Coordination in Rapid Onset Emergencies

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Key Points for NGOs and NGO Coordination Bodies to Consider

  • Identify and link to existing, established coordination mechanisms in place. 
  • Is government capacity strong and are they leading humanitarian response and coordination? What can be done to better support or encourage government coordination?
  • If there is country-level coordination that is non-humanitarian, then determine if this will be transformed, or if separate humanitarian coordination architecture will be established
  • International Inter-agency Humanitarian Coordination Architecture (IASC or UNHCR-led approaches) may have been triggered or may be triggered depending on the size of the emergency, existing capacity, and whether the government requests international assistance[link to the International Inter-agency Humanitarian Coordination Architecture section of website].  If it has been triggered then NGOs must determine how best to work beside and within these structures
  • If the size of the emergency does not trigger the IASC or UNHCR-led approaches, then will there be any changes to existing coordination structures?
  • If formal NGO humanitarian coordination does not exist (or is development-focused only), then NGOs will need to re-organise themselves to find a place in the new context.


Quick Checklist for NGOs to Organise Themselves


  • Do NGOs have a place in current country coordination structures, humanitarian or otherwise?
  • Is this an effective role and representation?
  • Is there agreement on NGO representation?
  • Do NGO structures need to adapt?
  • What changes to the current coordination model are needed?
  • Do NGO coordination governance arrangements need to change?
  • Should membership of the NGO coordination structure be widened?
  • Should people in leadership positions change if new NGO leaders, or new NGOs, come in for the emergency?
  • Are NNGO/INGO links working effectively and should they change for this emergency?
  • Should new/alternate funding sources for the coordination structure be located?
  • Are new capacity-building/training initiatives needed for the NGO community?
  • What roles will NGOs now take on in any newly established working groups for the broader architecture? Will any NGOs lead or co-lead clusters?
  • What about establishing specific working groups for NGO collaboration for the new context—security, advocacy, HR, logistics, etc.?
  • Do NGOs and their partners understand the broader humanitarian coordination mechanisms? Should a briefing for NGOs on this be held?
  • Does an NGO briefing pack need to be developed for new NGOs?
  • Should regular briefings on NGO and broader humanitarian coordination structures need to be held?
  • Does a briefing about the NGO community need to be developed for other stakeholders?
  • Are information-sharing mechanisms adequate or do they need to change?
  • Is an NGO security coordination structure needed and who would lead this? Link to the security coordination page


Quick Use Tools/Links to Launch NGO Coordination

A good place to start is through this website as it includes examples of the following tools and information, or links to relevant resources:

Sample ToR for NGO Coordination body including aims/objectives, etc.

List of possible NGO coordination activities

Sample blank contact list for NGO coordination body

Sample communications tree for NGO coordination body

Review the NGO Coordination Bodies Profiles to discover if there is already an NGO coordination body (with INGOs/NNGOs) in that country

Cluster coordination—infographic of clusters, guidance on cluster coordination

Sample blank 3W: please here or here