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Sustaining coordination mechanisms

Last edited: July 03, 2013

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  • VAWG is a problem that does not end when the emergency phase ends, and in some instances, shifting from emergency to recovery and development phases can herald increased rates of certain types of GBV, especially when emergency-related programming for the most vulnerable is discontinued. In settings where women and girls have lost basic protective mechanisms as a result of the emergency (such as family, livelihoods, etc.), their vulnerability is likely to increase when they can no longer access the benefits of humanitarian aid and must struggle to reintegrate into their communities. As a result, it is crucial that work on GBV –developing programmes, improving systems, changing policy, conducting advocacy, etc.—continues to receive the input of multi-sectoral actors and be well coordinated beyond the emergency phase.
  • Therefore, one of the most critical issues for a GBV coordination mechanism to consider, especially after the initial emergency response has waned, is how to ensure that coordination mechanisms for GBV are continued after the cluster system (or other humanitarian structures) have terminated. When thinking about how to ensure the sustainability of the GBV coordination mechanisms, it is important to consider: 
    • Capacity: Ideally, a permanent VAWG coordination mechanism at the national level should be government-led in order to ensure that VAWG is mainstreamed into national structures. Where government leadership presents political or security problems, other local agencies should be identified. With either option, it is often the case that local actors will not have the experience to coordinate programming for VAWG. Strategies should be developed for building capacity of relevant actors during the emergency by, e.g., having a government representative co- chair the coordination mechanism and, if possible, shadow the Coordinator in order to learn as much as possible about how to lead coordination post-emergency. 


Example:  In post-conflict Liberia, GBV coordination was led by the Ministry of Gender and Development and the GBV Joint Programme Management Team (which includes UN agencies and UNMIL).  An assistant minister was designated as counterpart to the Joint Programme Advisor with a clear TOR. This shared leadership between the UN and the government enhanced monitoring, partnership and transparency and also stimulated government ownership of the coordination process (Ward, 2010).


  • Funding: Securing financial resources for post-emergency coordination efforts is essential for facilitating the transition of the coordination mechanism to a permanent structure. Since this funding cannot be accessed through emergency streams (such as the CAP), the coordination mechanism will have to seek out recovery and development donors in order to design a funding strategy.
  • Advocacy:  The pressure to discontinue humanitarian-led coordination mechanisms will intensify as the crisis shifts into early recovery.  At this stage, the GBV Coordinator and other partners within the GBVcoordination mechanism should be prepared to articulate the need to sustain coordination efforts and should have a plan ready for presentation to the UNCT, IASC, government, etc., about including VAWG in recovery efforts. This kind of advocacy may be done most effectively through a coordination sub-group that is specifically tasked with developing an advocacy platform related to transitioning the coordination mechanism from the emergency phase to recovery/development.
  • Technical resources/tools:  Many of the tools that are developed during an emergency can and should be used for post-emergency work. These might include training curricula, assessment tools, data collection systems, SOPs, etc.  However, they will likely need to be adapted, not only to address the shift in focus from sexual violence during an emergency to broader VAWG issues post-emergency, but also to accommodate the transition from humanitarian actors to development actors. Strategizing during the emergency phase about how to adapt existing resources and develop new tools will facilitate the eventual transition to recovery and development.