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What are UN clusters?

In international responses to humanitarian crises, some sectors have in the past benefited from having clearly mandated lead agencies. Accordingly, the lack of a lead agency has repeatedly led to ad hoc, unpredictable humanitarian responses, with inevitable capacity and response gaps in some areas . In response to this, the UN has introduced nine thematic clusters for coordination at both the field and global levels, with each field-level cluster led by a UN agency functioning as “provider of last resort” and which is accountable to the UN Humanitarian Coordinator. The nine clusters, together with their lead agencies, are:

  • Nutrition (UNICEF)
  • Health (WHO)
  • Water/Sanitation (UNICEF)
  • Emergency Shelter (UNHCR/IFRC)
  • Camp Coordination/Management (UNHCR/IOM)
  • Protection (UNHCR/OHCHR/UNICEF)
  • Early Recovery (UNDP)
  • Logistics (WFP)
  • Emergency Telecommunications (OCHA/UNICEF/WFP).

Clusters can be activated in response to both sudden emergencies as well as ongoing emergencies. If you are not sure how to relate to the UN clusters, simply propose your idea for partnership outlining your interests, and it will be directed to the appropriate UN organisations which will get back to you. You can find a fuller explanation on clusters here.